October 19, 2012
Summary of accomplishments:
- Cut new trail from Cell 3 to the canal; moved dredge hose off of the boardwalk
- Dredged 3.5 hours into Cell 3 this week
- Total time pumped directly into Cell 3 (.366 acres) = 40.5 hours
- Total time in study cells = 187 hours
Two weeks ago, the dredge had reached the limit of the hose again. There are no spare sections to add, so the entire hose configuration needed to be moved from the boardwalk to the northeast side of the pond.
Signs of fall continue: marsh hawks have returned as well as merlins, kestrels, phoebes and white pelicans. White shrimp and juvenile mullet, white trout, speckled trout and menhaden are leaving the marsh.
This report can be downloaded in PDF file format by clicking the Dredge and Rainey Report, Moved Hose Off Boardwalk hyperlink.
Tuesday, October 16
Karen made it to the Intracoastal City public boat landing towing the 17-ft boat, the Avocet, at 8:00am. Timmy was out patrolling the south part of the Refuge when I made it to headquarters and unloaded my gear. Timmy came in soon after.
Since I couldn’t dredge until we move the hose and I need Timmy’s help to do that, I went with him to clear brush on some of the water control structures. We got to the Goose Pond at 10 am and were impressed with the number of birds covering the shallow water.
We made a new opening through the brush on the levee to tie up and access the Goose Pond overlook, that was a little less steep when the water is low. I used a cane knife and Timmy wielded the weed-eater to clear grass and brush from the top of the levee and around the flapgate crossing. I was thankful it was a cool day. We tried to do the same for the structure across from the Goose Pond, but there was too much brush and poison ivy. Timmy decided to come back when he had the brush cutting blade on the weed-eater.
Next, we went to the Pig Trap and unloaded the mower. Timmy mowed while I searched for remnants of the old fence line. I removed what I could and tied survey tape around those I couldn’t so that Timmy wouldn’t hit them with the mower. We also re-staked the tie downs for the old helicopter landing pad. Feral hogs are numerous in this area, had made some huge wallows and rubbed against anything vertical that wouldn’t push over. These are extremely destructive animals, causing damage to extensive tracts of habitat, and we have got to find some way to eliminate them.
Timmy finished mowing around 11:30 and we headed back for lunch. The cruise back to the house was an opportunity to observe more fall migrants, returning winter residents and prove the success of this year’s breeding season with a number of juvenile representatives.
After lunch around 2:30, we went to dredge pond. We have reached the limit of the length of hose that we have to move mud from the canal to the pond, and need to move it for a more direct path. We identified a tree to use as a marker from both sides of the levee and started cutting a new trail for the new hose route. I started in the marsh on the pond side to bushwack a direct path through the reeds and tall cane from pond to the marker tree. For most of the way, I could use my body to push the reeds side to side and step down on them to open a path, but as I approached the dry levee I needed the cane knife to cut my way through briars and bushes. Timmy used the brush cutter to make an access trail for the mower perpendicular to my path. When he intersected my path, I was happy to get out of the way. A chainsaw was needed as well when we encountered stumps and deadfall along the top of the levee. Our trail ended and opened out on the canal adjacent to the dredge, just as we had planned. We’re good!
While Timmy was widening and finishing the trail, I started disconnecting the hose across the levee in sections made up of 3 segments each and pulled them toward the canal. By 4:30, we were both tired and decided to call it a day.
Wednesday, October 17
Timmy left at 7:00 to pick up a high school student that was to shadow him today for class credit. Little did he know what he was in for! I loaded the flat boat and headed to the dredge at 7:45.
My first task was to move the hose in the canal out of the way for the planned boat maneuvers. I pulled the flat boat to shore where the hose entered the canal. Using a hammer, I pried open the cam-locks and knocked the connection loose. I inserted the hose plug hoping to keep the end of the hose buoyant for the move.
The hose was then tied to the front of the boat with two ropes to keep the end up where I could control it. I had to pull the submerged part of the hose back and forth across the sticky mud bottom of the canal until I could loop it into a position close to the dredge. With a little difficulty, I finally managed to get close enough to tie the boat up and not get pulled overboard. By 8:30 I had tugged and pulled the hose onto the deck of the dredge far enough to keep it from pulling itself off, and tied it securely to a cleat.
I moved the flat over to the former position of the hose to be out of the way of the landing for the Goose when Timmy returned. As I was catching my breath, Timmy arrived with the student, John McClean, to catch me “doing nothing.” Right.
With the timely addition of another set of hands and a young back, the three of us moved the land hose. The first section of hose was plugged so it would float, and Timmy pulled it over to the new landing at the dredge with the flat boat. At trailside, John and I pulled it ashore and across the trail to the marsh. Timmy tied up the boat and caught up with us, and the 3 of us pulled it across the marsh to the pond edge (Well, I helped until I tripped and fell in the marsh and then couldn’t catch up!).
With one section moved, us panting, and several more to go, Timmy decided to try using the 4-wheeler instead of hauling them around by boat and muscle. That was successful, faster, and much easier, so the next sections were pulled into place. As each piece was connected, the vehicle had less marsh to cross, so its impact was minimal.
The sections on the boardwalk were then disconnected, tied to the 4-wheeler, and pulled off with some assistance to keep it from hanging up on the boards and posts. John helped by lifting it over the last turn. As I was working on the last connection for the hose still on the boardwalk, I noticed we had visitors. McIlhenny personnel, Took Osborn and Kevin Horton, came to see what we were up to, so we took a break to visit.
After that much needed break, I started trying to move the last part of the hose on the boardwalk that was still connected to the length in the pond. I managed to get it off the boardwalk, moved it across the first hump of marsh, attached a rope and walked the other end of the rope around to the 4-wheeler. Before Timmy tied it to the 4-wheeler, John picked up the end of the hose, and with his long legs, calmly stepped over the marsh grass and carried it into place. I started trying to figure out how to keep John around!
Timmy and John connected the pond-hose to the land-hose, and we pulled the outfall end to aim under the dock where we have had some sediment escape. We headed back to the canal for the last connection. They dropped me at the dredge and I untied the hose. We transferred it to the flat boat for the short transport to shore. The two men made quick work of connecting the canal-hose to the land-hose, and once again the dredge was connected to the pond. Surprisingly, there were no extra sections. But by straightening the hose corridor, we provided the dredge with a good 60 feet of slack.
By this time, it was 11:30, so we took a lunch break and headed back to the house. There was a lot that Timmy wanted to show John for his school credit, so we parted ways. They went about Rainey business and I headed back to the dredge.
The dredge was prepped and ready to go by 2:00. I dredged for about half an hour before I had to stop to move the right anchor to be able to reach north end. After another hour, I stopped at the south end to move left cable. I lowered the pump twice before I realized it wasn’t pumping properly. I pulled pump up onto the deck and washed it off, and used the winch and tractor drive to lean it over to reach the impeller. It was clear. Hmmm. I engaged pump, and could see it trying to spin unsuccessfully. So I checked inside body and found several shells jammed against the casing. I couldn’t pull them out by hand, so used a hammer to break them up and removed the pieces. When I lowered the pump into the water this time, it worked fine, so I continued dredging for another lap – another hour and 40 minutes.
At 4:30, I shut the dredge off and washed everything down. I headed to the pond for my usual end-of-the-day assessment as storm clouds were moving in. The water level was right at marsh level, and the 3.5 hours of pumping made a nice size delta against the marsh under the boardwalk. Before I had a chance to do any more assessment, raindrops the size of marbles started plopping all around me and I had to make a run for shelter.
Thursday, October 18
A front had come through before dawn, dropping about a half an inch of rain in a short amount of time. The system stalled just off the coast, providing an interesting horizon for sunrise and a backdrop for the early movement of various flocks.
We cruised back to the south end of the property to see if we could find the wild hogs, but found more beautiful scenery and large alligators instead.
I owed Timmy some time for all of his help with the dredge, so helped clean up the workshop for a few hours. When the tide was appropriate, we took a trip to the weir to collect supper. It’s always a good sign when wading birds scatter on our approach. Timmy threw the cast net, then we collected the shrimp and dumped the by-catch as quickly as we could to keep the fish alive.