I realize there haven't been any recent updates on Duck Creek and wanted to give folks an idea of what has happened this summer, how things are shaping up for this fall, and what is in the works for next year.
This spring and early summer Duck Creek received 20 inches of rain. For a place that is already inherently wet, this additional moisture postponed the use of any equipment in the field until everything had a good amount of time to dry out. Staff manage to scatter a food plots in between deluges of rain, but these crops didn't weather the extra damp soil conditions.
The moist soil plants did respond well in various locations and recently the staff have been able to get out and disk openings in the thick summer growth so that spots will show water early this fall. This management also helps set back succession where undesirable plants were becoming established and will prep the soil for next year's food production. Flooded conditions exist in parts of Units A and B (14, 54, and the distribution channel) along the sloughs, disked flats, and summer growth to provide habitat for early fall migrants. Hurricane Irma caused overcast conditions and some scattered showers, but nothing too significant. As the fall progresses water levels will continue to provide additional habitat in correspondence with migration, waterfowl season, and habitat type.
In the next week some necessary dirt work along the boatlanes in Pools 2 and 3 will be addressed. Spoil piles occur up and down the boatlanes that cut into the interior of these pools. You may not have ever noticed these lumpy linear dirt mounds, but over the years they have blocked water from draining parts of the flooded timber and have had some negative consequences. In certain locations pin oaks have died back and more water tolerant maples have started to spring up. This change in forest composition actually helped identify our biggest problem areas, but we'd like to do something about it. Now that we know where to focus our efforts, we plan to alleviate these ponding problems and remove these selected spoil piles. This should help with the interior hydrology as well as the long-term health and composition of the forest within these units.
Other renovation work focused on Duck Creek will not affect public use this fall and will be centered in the office in preparation for the next construction season. Engineering plans are being drawn up to address several infrastructure needs along the perimeter of pools. This includes several water control structures in Pool 2 and 3 that need to be replaced. The integration of water control structures and levee fortification will also allow water to be managed more efficiently in Pool 2 and the forested section of the Grim tract to the south. Replacing the footbridges that allow access to Pool 8 will round out the final punch list. These plans will be let out in a future contract for the 2018 construction season. This last contract should tie up the loose ends and wrap up the renovation work on Duck Creek.
That is quick and dirty synopsis of what is going on. With each cool front more birds should begin to move south, the leaves will begin to change, and the next waterfowl season will be getting ever closer. We hope to see you this fall at Duck Creek. Thanks for your interest, understanding, and support.