Necessary marsh channel clearing work was conducted over a two-year period during the summers of 2007 and 2008 on the Conservancy’s marsh complexes. After this, the only channel clearing and maintenance work that remained existed on the Conservancy’s Betts, Kismat and Silva tracts (collectively known as the BKS tract). The first phase of that clearing work was completed this summer after extensive planning and consideration.
The BKS tract marsh design is different than other Conservancy marsh complexes, so that innovation and improvisation was needed in the maintenance effort. Lessons learned from this summer’s work will be applied in the future to the more extensive North Course channel clearing effort.
Biological considerations were foremost in the planning of this project. Among those applied to the South Course channel clearing and maintenance effort were:
- conducting the South Course channel clearing and maintenance first so that the adjacent North Course can remain fully functional for use by the NBHCP Covered Species as alternative habitat,
- on nearly all of the maintenance project course, only one side of the channel or pond was disturbed,
- (as required in the NBHCP) the South Course was drained at least two weeks before work commenced, and
- spoil material from the clearing work were placed on either existing designated spoil disposal sites (designated for the original construction work), or used to enhance one side of the bank to form the “steep-sided slope” feature that has been encouraged by consulting biologists and which the Conservancy has employed with so much success in the 2007 and 2008 channel clearing and maintenance projects. This should provide further benefit for the giant garter snake.
The core project was successfully completed in less than a month, reducing to the barest of minimums the length of time this portion of the marsh was not functional. The Conservancy now begins further planning for the final channel clearing effort, the BKS’s North Course.