Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pushing Dirt

This week, we are in the middle of creating two freshwater wetlands in a field in eastern Maryland. Here, this excavating pan, pulled by a Case tractor, is laying down clay to create a berm. The berm will hold water during the winter and spring months, providing habitat to wildlife.

In this photo, the tractor-pan and a D5 dozer create the desired elevations in the wetland basin, while laying down more clay for the berm. Once the winter rains begin, up to 18" of water may be present in the basin. As the growing season starts, the water will be gradually drawn down (naturally and artificially), which simulates the hydrologic cycle in this part of the world. Some deeper pools are planned within the wetland - they will hold water later in the spring.

The other wetland on the site will be an excavated wetland, or "pothole." It will only drain naturally, and will hold water long enough to produce amphibians in May and June, as they come out of their larval stages. Wetland shrubs like elderberry and buttonbush will surround the pothole.

It's still very dry out here. Here's a wetland in Maryland that we restored in November 2007. It was bare dirt. Even though it's dry right now, look at how much it's taken off, in just one year.

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