Where's the Water?

WODU and Wetlands 512x219

During this past summer, Refuge staff has intentionally drawn down water levels in some of the wetlands.  In addition to intentional drawdowns, the dry, hot summer also contributed to wetlands drying up.  It is essential for the health of wetlands to occasionally have drawdowns and is part of our CCP wetland management plan.  The newly exposed soil has a lot of beneficial vegetation sprouting which will be an excellent food source for waterfowl.  Some of the plants that have been rejuvenated include Smartweed, Duckweed, and Bidens.  In addition, a few other reasons for the drawdown include, dike and water control structure repairs, cattail management, installation of a new ADA accessible waterfowl hunt blind, and staff gauge installation. 


 

  • Dike Repair and Water Control Structure replacement:  Maintenance continues to repair dikes that are failing due to animal burrows.  In addition, failing water control structures need to be replaced for proper water delivery to fill and drain wetlands.  In order to make these repairs, we need to draw down the wetlands to access these areas. 
  •  Cattail Management:  Ideal wetland habitat is about a 50:50, water to vegetation, ratio.  Cattails tend to encroach the water so by disking up and breaking down the cattails every few years, this helps to restore a healthy balance and can allow other vegetation to grow. 
  • Installation of new ADA accessible waterfowl hunt blind:  A third ADA accessible waterfowl hunt blind was installed this summer on the east side of Snipe Pond.  Access to the new blind is from the center parking area, crossing over a new culvert crossing over center ditch.  The walk to the blind is about 698 feet.   It is not wheelchair accessible and reservations are required. 
  • Staff gauge installation:  These gauges will aid in more precise water level management by showing the elevations in the ponds.  Because the wetlands are filled in a step-pool manner, knowing what elevation the water level needs to be before it will spill over into the next wetland can aid in better management. 

 

Currently, wetlands are being filled with pumping of water from the Kootenai River and Deep Creek.  It is a slow process, but there should be adequate water for the waterfowl hunting season.