Dredging mindfully: taking special care to minimize impacts
Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse
Dredging is set to begin in Spring Lake Park Pond shortly, and preparations are in progress to protect wildlife.
Part of Texarkana, Texas’ Capital Improvement Plan, this dredging project is one step in a comprehensive list of improvements, construction, renovation, and purchases through the year 2044. Dredging is expected to cost approximately $700,000–a fraction of the more than $13.5 million the city plans to spend this year alone on the Capital Improvement Plan.
The pond has never been dredged before.
It will be deepened from 3 feet to 10 feet, and gabion baskets (essentially cages filled with rock) will be installed to preserve the pond’s perimeter to improve the overall health of the pond. Texarkana Parks and Recreation manager Robby Robertson told the Texarkana Gazette that in the pond’s current state, it’s difficult to control algae and plant life.
In preparation for the dredging, Spring Lake Pond will be dewatered to ease the project. However there is something that officials must address first: over the three days before dredging begins fish and other species from the pond will be collected and placed into coolers with pond water. They will be identified, measured, and recorded before being released into a preselected relocation area chosen specifically for its similarity to Spring Lake Pond. In addition, fish will be handled scarcely to help minimize stress.
It’s not just fish either. According to Texarkana Parks and Recreation manager Robby Robertson, ducks and geese that frequent the pond during dredging will also be captured, recorded, and relocated.
All of this is in accordance with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department code. Texarkana’s city website states:
These aquatic species recovery and relocation activities are required within the pond in accordance with Chapters 67 and 68 (Sections 68.002 and 68.015) of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Code, 31 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §65.175, §65.176, and the TPWD Aquatic Resource Relocation Plan (ARRP) Guidelines prior to dewatering by trained biologists. In addition, TPWD requires that an ARRP be prepared prior to any relocation activities.
This is not the only dredging project that is being mindful.
A project in Florida has manatee experts onsite throughout the dredging to ensure that manatees are not brought to harm. Dredging in that project must stop if a manatee comes within 50 feet. Another project in Australia is taking steps to make sure that marine life that frequent the shallower waters of the Gold Coast area are considered. Dedicated staff are present specifically to watch for and report any life that approach the dredge site, especially Migaloo, the only recorded albino humpback whale ever.
An upcoming project in Suisun City, Calif. has been working with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to properly handle the endangered Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse that may live near their dredge site. The council was told that it may be necessary to herd the mice to safety before dredging can begin.
Around the world dredging operations work to renourish beaches from erosion, expand waterways to continue international economics, and keep small ponds like the one in Texarkana healthy. Maintaining the health of wildlife and the environment during these projects is also of key importance, and it is encouraging to see professionals work towards sustainability. As technology advances, dredges themselves can become more sustainable through renewable power sources and maximizing efficiency.
- Header photo by Jimmy Emerson, DVM via flickr
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