Hi all, it was 2 months (since December 5!) before we could dredge again. Water levels, weather and schedules just didn’t align for any dredging until early February, when we managed to add about 4 hours to Cell 3. This has been a really wet winter, which is great for the marsh but not so great for dredging with the system we have.
However, that doesn’t mean that nothing is happening out there! The vegetation is taking off wherever the fill has come close to marsh level, and it seems the marsh hay cordgrass (Spartina patens) spreads best in cooler weather. The 2 month rest has allowed the fill to consolidate, and the drying and wetting is causing mudcracks that further firm up the mud, and allows germination of seed. The consolidation, of course has lowered the substrate, but it will also help us retain the sediment when we do start dredging in earnest.
I had an opportunity last week to fly with a couple of photographers to act as guide. Although I could not direct the plane’s path and did not have an open window to shoot through, I manage to grab one shot of the study site.
Using that image, I updated my status map, and was excited by what it showed! Cell 5 has had a full year of natural vegetative growth and looks to be half vegetated. Cell 4 was filled only up to marsh level, has compacted, but has vigorous growth around the perimeter. Cell 3 is already being colonized along the south marsh edge that was brought to marsh level in November. Obviously, new sediment is encouraging marsh productivity.
Every day I visit the site, I see wildlife or the evidence of them using the mudflats or new vegetation. Its amazing what a little dirt can do! If only I had a river to divert!