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Thread: Draining the Cottonwood Creed Wetlands

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    Member akblackdawg's Avatar
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    Default Draining the Cottonwood Creed Wetlands



    OK Guys and Gals, here is another one from DFG for us to consider. Some background just so you understand the importance of this getting done. The bridge has been contracted, footings for it are going in this next week but the remander of the construction won't be until June or so. It is still up in the air about ATV useage, but the bridge will make access easier either way. Out a ways on the trail there are some very serrious erosing problems taking place. It will ge worse, and when it does, the wetlands east of Cottonwood Creek will drain, taking away hundreds of acres of duck nesting habitat, which most of you realize will reduce the duck numbers for early season hunting for us. Look at what Doug says in his letter and consider it. I know this will interfere in fishing, etc, but most of us should be able to spare a few days for this, and it will be must warmer and have a much better benifit to all of us hayflat hunters. Please post if you are interested in helping out on this project or would rather let the wetlands drain. Bud
    Tuesday, March 26, 2013 2:30 PM

    From:
    "Hill, Doug D (DFG)" <doug.hill@alaska.gov>



    To:
    "bud bass" <budbassc21@yahoo.com>







    Bud,



    Would AWA be interested in assisting ADF&G on the initial phases of the re-routing of the Cottonwood Creek ATV Trail? Below is a map with the proposed location of the new trail. This portion of the re-route will not tackle the worst portion of the trail, but it is a start. The Cottonwood Creek Access parking lot is at the top of the yellow line in the image, as is the location of the new bridge. We would work on this in July if I am to be present (unless we have a wet June/early July the ground will be drier) I will be out of state for an extended period this summer (approx June 13 through July 3 or 13). If June works then Joe Meehan will have to be coordinator.



    I have attached a PDF files with photos of the ATV issues along the entire length of the 7 mile long Cottonwood Creek Trail and the SW bend (worst portion & location of tide gut drainage sites).

    You will see the marked Cottonwood Creek Trail corridor and places where ATVs have driven outside of the corridor.
    Last edited by Brian M; 03-26-2013 at 19:11.
    Wasilla

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    Member DownEastah's Avatar
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    I think ive seen the maps from joe once before tho, my first thought is why would you just elimanate atv traffic unless its for for habitat restoration and damage prevention. This will stop further destruction of wetlands and give time to rebuild the critical areas. Once this is established then the new trail for atv traffic should be put in place.
    Last edited by Brian M; 03-26-2013 at 19:12.

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    Please post if you are interested in helping out on this project or would rather let the wetlands drain.
    Are we showing a little resent for people not showing for the brush cutting along the highway?

    I would be interested in helping with the project assuming im not out of town for work. I know the Friends of the Palmer Hayflats had something to do with project are they still involved and are they going to provide any manpower? Are we going to end up with another reallocation of funds like last year with the money getting sent to another project and the creek crossing remaining closed for yet another season?

    I dont see your attachment or link of the plans not sure if they went through!!
    Attachment 69353Attachment 69354
    Jesse
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    Member akblackdawg's Avatar
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    cottonwood creek.jpg

    Here is the map of the section of cottonwood creek that needs work and the wetlands to the right side which are being drained. I have photos of water cascading out of these wetlands towards cottonwood creek showing the magnitude of the problem but have been unable to down load them to this format. Can email if somebody wants to do this for me in another post.

    Don't get me wrong here, the object of this project is not to perserve or improve trails for ATV use, the object is to keep the wetlands and 100's of acres of prime nesting area from being drained. This would result in the loss of hundreds or thousands of ducks being produced each spring for our fall hunting. Water draining has been caused by 2 factors, ATV use, tearing up the trail and opening water drainage channels into Cottonwood Creek, as well as tidal erosion and drainage of the very high tides we get monthly. DFG will decide at a later date if ATV's will be permitted in the future and that is another issue to be considered down the road. Right now we need to stop the drainage of this prime wetlands and waterfowl habitat. Bud
    Wasilla

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    Angry

    Don't get me wrong here, the object of this project is not to perserve or improve trails for ATV use,
    Well no doubt wont be using atv's on it if they put the trail right along the bank of the creek, just cause bank erosion. So what we have here is a trail for the bird watchers and fisherman and im sure the proposed boardwalk and viewing platform will show up just like they did at reflection lake. I wish the folks who actually use this area to waterfowl hunt and have used the atv trail would chime in because from what im seeing here somebody is selling a line of crap. Atv trail is a muddy mess in areas, yes some reinforcing of the trail would be needed. Is the use of Atvs causing the flats to drain, I dont think so more like tidal activity causing erosion. But what do I know I hunt out there 20 - 30 days a year. And use the area year round just to let my dogs out where they can strech there legs in an enviroment where retrievers belong. Wont be long and the area will be all yuppied up, with boardwalk full of bird watchers complaining because im out there shooting at the same birds they are watching and taking pictures of.

    akblackdawg PM sent
    Jesse
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    This portion of the re-route will not tackle the worst portion of the trail,
    Nope that portion of the trail has had some reinforcement and plastic mats put down though it does need a little maintenance. The new path shown from what I can see will remove bushes that not only help reinforce the bank of the stream and provide seperation from the pond but also removes vegetation the moose in that area seem to enjoy eating during the winter months. There will be no positive effect for waterfowlers only those who want to go out hiking and bird watching with out ruining there birkenstocks. Cutting down vegetation and adding more trails is going to stop supposed drainage how?
    Jesse
    HR SHR JR's Gunny Dog "Ermey"
    SR JR's Marsh Mangling Mindy
    SR JR's LNR Thicket Thrashing Trixie

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    I just sent a lengthy email to doug.hill@alaska.gov and joe.meehan@alaska.gov expressing my concerns and requesting a meeting to discuss them with at least myself or others. I hope that you will do the same!

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    i hope they keep it walk in only. we need some places that are harder to get to let ducks rest
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    So I called and talked to Bud he was gracious enough to send me pictures of the areas of concern. Atv trail looked the same way 18 years ago when I first ventured the Hayflats, the drainage problem is the cause of natural tidal erosion. The atv trail having been out of commison for only 5 or so months at the start of the 2012 waterfowl season looked much different than what you see in many of those pics as mother nature plays a large part in that silty enviroment. A little reinforcement of the trail and atv usage wouldnt be an issue for what little usage that trail actually gets. As others have done I will contact Doug Hill and Joe Meehan and if nothing else share my opinion based on the almost 19 years of my usage of the refuge.
    Jesse
    HR SHR JR's Gunny Dog "Ermey"
    SR JR's Marsh Mangling Mindy
    SR JR's LNR Thicket Thrashing Trixie

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    Just contact Joe, Doug hill works for Joe. The next step is to send all of our letters to randy.bates@alaska.gov and douglas.vincent-lang@alaska.gov these two can override Joe Meehan. Please help to save the refuge.

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    I talked to randy bates ( habitat division director ) on the phone for about 20 min today and voiced our concern. He was aware of the issue but did not know a lot about it. After our conversation I believe that he understands the issue and also sees it as a major issue. Randy's number is 907-465-3176 if you would also like to voice your opinion.

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    What issues do you see that are not in line with Joe Meehan and Doug Hill's objectives. I agree with them, #1 priority is to maintain the wetlands and the nesting habitat #2 priority, is to keep the trail open and useable for ATV and foot traffic, but that only comes after keeping the wetlands from draining. They have sent me some additional information I will attempt to post soon regarding their plans and what they invision as the managers of the refuge. And yea, I would like to keep the access open by ATV, but not at the expense of the ducks nesting there. Besides that, from what I understand, last year, the first year without ATV access happened to be the best year back there for hunting ducks. My be a connection there. Bud
    Wasilla

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    I have to agree with thelast2, I have been hunting back there for quite a while now, and I don't believe the ATV trail is the blame for the draining, it's tidal. One 30 foot tide and the whole area becomes a big lake. Not to mention all the rain we had last year. You could paddle around the whole area with a canoe if you wanted. I have yet to see less water out there than I have the previous years I have hunted it, actually, I have been seeing more.

    As far as the trail goes, there are some nasty holes in the trail that would be nice to be worked on, but it's those holes that keep a lot of guys from going back there, so there is a good side and bad side to fixing them. There are few of us that brave our way back, most guys hunt the front side. That nasty trail keep the area from being flooded with duck hunters.

    Most of the people that use the area are fishermen, duck hunters, meth addicts, and people going out to exercise their dogs. It's not the best place for bird watchers. Most of the birds out there are no where near the trail, and the vegetation is so tall, you wouldn't be able to see them anyway. And I just don't understand why anybody would want to watch waterfowl in the fall while we are out hunting them. It's a bunch of ducks in eclipse phase.....oooohhh look a brown duck! If they develop that area for bird watchers it's would be a huge waste of money and land!

    The reason the area was so good last year was because most guys aren't willing to trudge 4, 5, or 6 miles back through the swamp for 8 ducks. And with this back area basically becoming a refuge, it's going to affect the hunting of the whole area. Once the birds start getting shot out at duck lake, maud road, etc. where do you think they are going to go? Trust me, we want guys to be able to get to those back areas and keep these birds moving around. Or else it will be like last year for a bunch of guys, birds drying up on most of the areas, and people scratching their heads wondering why there are no birds around.

    I'll help with the project, but my help stops the instant a boardwalk or talk of develpment for birdwatchers starts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by akblackdawg View Post
    What issues do you see that are not in line with Joe Meehan and Doug Hill's objectives. I agree with them, #1 priority is to maintain the wetlands and the nesting habitat #2 priority, is to keep the trail open and useable for ATV and foot traffic, but that only comes after keeping the wetlands from draining. They have sent me some additional information I will attempt to post soon regarding their plans and what they invision as the managers of the refuge. And yea, I would like to keep the access open by ATV, but not at the expense of the ducks nesting there. Besides that, from what I understand, last year, the first year without ATV access happened to be the best year back there for hunting ducks. My be a connection there. Bud

    Bud, I agree with them %100 the wetlands need to come first and atv traffic second. There is a plan in place to reroute the trail with engineered material to prevent erosion. It will only take about 600,000 dollars, please make checks payable to ADF&G. I have talked to 3 of the 5 members of the state that can make a decision on this matter. Those I have not spoken to yet are commissioner and Doug Vincent-Lang, I have been on contact with Joe Meehan, Randall Bates, Doug Hill, Ducks Unlimited and Alaskans for the Palmer Hayflats. From what Ive been told The Alaska Outdoor Council has the opposite opinion as myself and all the people I have contacted. Just from what I've read on their website this would go against some of their major pillars that they pride themselves on.


    If anyone has a letter that they would like to include discussing there concerns, please email them to j.mcphee@live.com

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    This is the first expense estimate that I have heard, I knew it was expensive due to the cost of the mats they want to put down. How much of that cost is in labor as opposed to just the cost of the mats. We have lots of manpower available to put the mats down if we can get it organized and stir up some enthusium for the project. We have at least 4 hunt dog clubs who have members that use that area, plus AWA and a couple sportsmans clubs. We may be able to get the use of a couple bobcats for rerouting the trails, etc. We ought to be able to do this in sections also, maybe bypassing the larger mudholes first and go from there. First off i think we need to get a firm price on materials.

    Also interested in what the Outdoor Council wants to do, what is their plan if they don't like what we are talking about. Hopefully I'll get back to the sportsmans show and talk a bit with them. Bud
    Wasilla

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    #1 priority is to maintain the wetlands and the nesting habitat #2 priority, is to keep the trail open and useable for ATV and foot traffic, but that only comes after keeping the wetlands from draining
    Totally agreed!

    Most of the people that use the area are fishermen, duck hunters, meth addicts, and people going out to exercise their dogs. It's not the best place for bird watchers. Most of the birds out there are no where near the trail, and the vegetation is so tall, you wouldn't be able to see them anyway.
    Completly true.

    I'll help with the project, but my help stops the instant a boardwalk or talk of develpment for birdwatchers starts.
    My thinking also, I dont think we need to have boardwalks and viewing platforms at every public access to the flats. Reflection Lake is enough in my opininion and the more attention we draw to the cottonwood creek the more pressure that will get applied to the Atv trail when and if we can figure out how to reopen it to the public.

    The reason the area was so good last year was because most guys aren't willing to trudge 4, 5, or 6 miles back through the swamp for 8 ducks.
    Lmao, my dog wishes I wasn't one of those people had to get another male labrador to carry some of the load.

    Alright so I stopped in the ADF&G office in Palmer and sat for an hour with Doug Hill yesterday. I then called Joe Meehan, I discussed my concerns with both of them and seems that my thinking is inline with theirs. Removal off brush and vegetation will be minimal New bridge is going in just downstream of the old one the trail work is undecided and with any luck adding more trails wont ever see the light of day. Duck hunters dont generally want to be on a dry hardpacked trail anyways in my expierence. The drainage issue has been caused by tidal erosion. ADF&G is concerned that the Atv trails proximty to the problem area will speed up and worsen the problem. There is talk of another bridge being placed out further to help relocate the atv trail and stop the erosion. I for one dont like that idea as it will involve more pilings being driven in. I would like to see the Atv trail stay in use, just think we need to find a better alternative than another bridge. Sometime in the next couple of days I will adventure out and have a look at the area where the drainage is occuring see if I can get a better idea of the problem and maybe help come up with a resolution. The plastic mats are apparently rather expensive Joe was saying $100,000 a mile. That estimate was a few years old so no doubt higher today. Any work involving tractors and such, all but has to be done while the ground is frozen so might be next winter before any real solution could be put in place. I urge everyone cocerned to voice your opinions. I know the ADF&G guys are monitoring this thread, so feel free to post here or just call them. One more thing that I discussed with Doug Hill was if everyone who uses these resources and enjoys them and would like to continue doing so. Would take a proactive stance and responsibilty in insuring this. If you see violations report them, this holds especially true when it comes to the ATV corrider. A lot of the ATV damage has been done in areas outside of the ATV corrider and im not just talking about skirting a mudhole on the trail more like no where near the trail in some cases. If you see garbage out there, help by picking it up, I pick up carparts, used lumber, pallets and other trash and yes even empy shotgun shell hulls regularly and haul them out just because I remember what that area and reflection lake area used to look like.
    Jesse
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    SR JR's LNR Thicket Thrashing Trixie

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    Also interested in what the Outdoor Council wants to do, what is their plan if they don't like what we are talking about
    Yeah now you got me curious gonna have to do some research and see what what there stance is.
    Jesse
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    I would be willing to help where needed I would love to see more mats and no bird viewing that's a hunting area!

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    So I went down to run the dogs and the work for the new bridge has already begun.Talked to another guy that was down there running his 3 retrievers and let him know what was up and if he had any concerns to please voice them either here or by calling adf&g.[IMG]IMG_2774.jpg[/IMG][IMG]IMG_2775.jpg[/IMG]
    Jesse
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    A few more picures: [IMG]IMG_2779.jpg[/IMG][IMG]IMG_2777.jpg[/IMG]
    Jesse
    HR SHR JR's Gunny Dog "Ermey"
    SR JR's Marsh Mangling Mindy
    SR JR's LNR Thicket Thrashing Trixie

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