July 11, 2013 – C3 full and AC in Guesthouse

Dredge and Rainey Report
Cell 3 full and AC in the Guesthouse

July 11, 2013

Summary of accomplishments:

  • Cell 3 is at marsh level or above
  • Total pump time this week = 4:10 hours
  • Total time pumped directly into Cell 3 (.366 acres) = 85 hours
  • Total Time in Study Cells = 231.5 hours
  • Installed an AC/heat unit in the guesthouse

Impediments: hot temperatures

Summary:  Finally, C3 is full!

This report can be downloaded in PDF file format by clicking the Dredge and Rainey Report, Cell 3 Full and AC in the Guesthouse hyperlink.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Rather than towing the Avocet down, Karen met Timmy at the public boat launch at 8:00 for transport via the flatboat out to the Rainey headquarters. The grounds look completely different with the new bulkhead out front. Timmy had decked the entire canal stretch, evened out the gravel fill around the house, and had planted some St Augustine grass plugs on the smoothed dirt fill. It is a big change from a month ago, when you had to watch where you stepped to avoid loose deck boards and sinkholes!

Figure 1. Before (left) and after (right) installation of the new bulkhead and dock in front of the camp.

By 9:15, we were at the marsh restoration pond to observe our starting conditions. The pond water level was at 3” above marsh level (+3” ML), which was perfect for dredging. The pressure of the added water from pumping would be dispersed through the marsh rather than undermining the containment.

A quick tour of the study site confirmed that the grass was still growing and spreading into all three of the cells that we had brought up to marsh level. The LSU group had added some Spartina patens 2 plugs in randomly selected plots in cells 4 & 5, and had laughingly threatened to bring in goats or use herbicide to keep our natural grass from encroaching on their study of grass growth.

Figure 2. LSU planted marshhay, Spartina patens, in plots in Cell 5 that were very close to rapidly growing 3-square: Schoenoplectus olneyi and S.robustus.

Timmy had spent a good bit of time at the marsh creation area over the weekend, trimming the marsh grass away from the boardwalk so we wouldn’t be surprised by snakes, and replacing the defective left winch with an old, partially-working overhead winch.

Back on the dredge, we raised the spuds and used the traveling winches to pull the dredge into the middle of the canal. Timmy used the flatboat to maneuver the rear of the dredge into the starting position by lining it up with the bamboo pole I had placed last time at one of the spuds. We finally started dredging at 10:35, under a partly cloudy sky and a humid temperature of 96°. We are dredging on the north side of the canal, “walking” the dredge forward toward the west.

After an hour, Timmy left to go to the pond to move the outfall. Cell 3 is extremely shallow, and the effluent piles up rather quickly if we leave it too long in the same place. 10 minutes after he left, the right winch jammed. The temporary replacement has a spring-loaded metal bracket on it that keeps the cable in order when a weight is suspended from it; but was causing problems when I had to slack it with no weight. I was using a screwdriver to pull enough of the cable free to move the dredge over when Timmy returned and took over the repairs.

I dredged until he got it free again and rewound it. We dredged for another swing across the canal, making sure to pull the cable out before moving over. Timmy had not brought his boots, so after a couple of hours, I went ashore to move the hose, walking the marsh perimeter of the pond to pull the outfall to the east. It was hot.

We managed to dredge for another hour, until the winch jammed again and almost cut our new stainless steel cable. We pulled as much of the cable off the reel as possible, then Timmy sat on the bow of the dredge and worked on the winch while I dredged swinging to the left, using only the left winch. The end of that swing was the end of dredging for the day. We decided 4 hours was plenty of fill for Cell 3 anyway.

Figure 3. Timmy working on the left winch, trying to free the cable from the spring-loaded keeper.

I helped as best I could as Timmy took the winch off. We moved the dredge over to the
south side of the canal, marking the rear spud with the bamboo pole again, and shut
everything down.

A final trip back to the pond was rather disappointing. The water level had increased to +4” ML, so very little of what we had added to the pond was evident. However, as we approached the walkway, a black-necked stilt was standing with its feet visible in the middle of the cell. The first delta of the day was evident as a slick area between the islands with a few chunks visible, and the second delta was just a discolored area. We will have to wait for the water level to drop to see the results. However, since Cell 3 was so close to being filled before we started, we are sure it’s full now!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Yesterday, Timmy helped me, so today, I helped him. We worked all day in the metal building that will be used as a guesthouse and extra bedroom, to install an AC/heater in the rear wall. We had fans blowing, we worked in the shade as much as possible, we each downed about 10 gallons of ice water, and we were exhausted by the afternoon.

The fasteners in the paneling had been removed on a previous week, so these panels were moved out of the way. Timmy built a frame to fit the AC unit, then framed the wall and cut out a hole in the metal siding. The paneling was cut to fit the new opening and replaced. The AC case was installed securely in the frame, then the unit was put in place and we filled all cracks and spaces with foam. It was plugged in to start cooling the building. After a 2 hour break, we returned to caulk the outside, and finish up the base boards and trim. Later that evening we returned again to enjoy the comfortable, cool, dry room. The plumbing will be tackled on the next trip.

Figure 4. Outdoor construction area, and cutting the holed through the metal siding.

Figure 5. Inside construction and almost finished.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I was scheduled to leave this morning, so as soon as the sun came up and the sky was without threatening weather, I headed over to the marsh creation site in the flat boat. I was greeted by the resident marsh rabbit, and I was quite happy to see him with all of the coyote and sign in the area. He paused at the edge of the roseaucane as I came into view, and then hopped to cover as I
continued toward the boardwalk.

Water level in the pond had dropped to +2” ML, exposing two large deltas from Tuesdays dredging effort. Unfortunately, the rest of the fill in the cell could not be evaluated with the water cover. We will have to wait for water level to be at 0 to see if we are done, but will call it full anyway.

Figure 6. Early morning light show.

Figure 7. Marsh bunny at the dredge site.

Figure 8. The two deltas created by Tuesdays dredging were exposed by the drop in waterlevel.

Timmy had acquired a couple of aerial photos the week of the alligator egg harvest, and I used one to help update the status map with the extent of new vegetation. The rate of growth is amazing. The LSU plots of marshhay (Spartina patens) were evident on the photography as well, so I added those to the status map as well.

Figure 9. The estimated status of the marsh creation site as of July 9, 2013. The new vegetation has exploded with the higher than normal rainfall this year and Cell 5 is almost filled with new marsh. The LSU planted plots in cells 4 & 5 are indicated by the darker green squares.


Karen A Westphal and Timmy J Vincent, National Audubon Society
Audubon Louisiana and the Paul J Rainey Wildlife Refuge
6160 Perkins Road, Suite 215, Baton Rouge, LA 70808
225-768-0921x202 office, kwestphal@audubon.org
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