The summer of 2012, so far, has been good and bad. Anyone that has driven through the Area in late June is well aware of the bad part of this summer. The incredibly hot, windy and dry weather has taken what little water we had and sent it into the atmosphere. The dead and dying fish, wandering turtles and muskrats and other resident wildlife are suffering. Prospects for the upcoming waterfowl season are not to great right now, but can change in one night.
Some of the good aspects of this dry period are often overlooked or at least not noticed by the casual drive through visitor. We have burned and disked several hundred acres of cattail in Pool 2. The perimeter areas of this pool had become filled with cattail and last year we kept the pool dry to begin this work effort. A dry 2012 summer has allowed us to continue this work. In addition, we have had the opportunity to seed several hundred acres of Japanese millet in Pools 2, 3 and 4, as well as in the Mitigation Marsh. Should we get some late summer rains that allows these pools to have a bit of water, this effort should help hold some ducks on the Area.
We have also been able to address the Phragmites problem in all the pools. This plant continues to persist. Last years use of a helicopter to help spray the plants has proven to have been effective. Almost every patch sprayed last year is dead, but new clumps are showing up in all the pools, but are fewer in number and smaller in size than the ones we dealt with last year.
We have begun scraping some ‘potholes’ in the perimeter grassland areas to construct additional wetland acres needed to mitigate for the inlet canal work we are planning. Changing the open canal at Dundee to a buried pipe system required us to mitigate for those lost wetland acres. This pipe project will stop water seepage from that portion of the inlet system.
One of the more obvious and heavily observed positives resulting from this dry weather has been the extensive shorebird habitat that was present for all of the spring and early summer migration. We have had good numbers of wading birds, and even some shorebirds on the Area throughout the spring and summer. The bulk of their activity was along the main dike in Pools 1B and 1C where viewing opportunities abounded.
We are keeping busy, and taking advantage of the dry conditions. We plan our activities, as best we can, to accomplish tasks in the areas prone to staying wet longer first working in the drier sites later. This will mean that our ability to continue our projects will not be slowed by the rains we are going to get later this summer. Think positive.