I?m not used to having this much help.?
That?s Bruce Harrison. He?s the Area Biologist with Ducks Unlimited. He?s in town because Ducks Unlimited has donated a floating island for the Bullmoose Marshes, and he want to get it in place before the ice melts. (They?ve also donated a trio of nesting boxes, but there isn?t quite as much rush to get those up.)
There are 12 members of the Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society gathered in the parking lot of the Health Centre. It?s said many hands make light work, and Bruce is a little surprised at the number of hands here today. A lot of time, he says, he has to do this alone. Introductions are made, then bodies are loaded into vehicles and transported to the marsh.
The ?island? is actually a floating wooden box, about seven feet square. The centre of the box will be filled with dirt and then seeded. The hope is that waterfowl will choose the island as a nesting, or at least resting, site.
The box is loaded on a sled, and pulled, pushed and shoved along the trail. The crew makes it to an opening on the edge of the marsh (or is it on the marsh? There?s enough snow here that it?s tough to tell), and Charles Helm and Bruce head out onto the ice to find a perfect location for the island. It has to be in as deep water as possible says Bruce. It has to be visible from the viewing platform, says Charles. Not too close, cautions Bruce. Not too far, cautions Charles.
Finally, a location is selected. Ted Antle takes an ice auger and drills a hole so the water depth can be measured. In just a few turns, the augur breaks through. ?There?s only about six inches of ice here, so take her easy,? he warns.
Pat Kelly measures the depth. Seven feet. Not great, but deep enough. A second hole is drilled though the bare ice, and the water sluices around Ted?s feet. He?s surprised at how thin the ice is here. Nearby Moose Lake still has about three feet of ice. ?Must be because the water is moving.?
A second load is picked up, including two ten gallon pails filled with concrete that will act as anchors for the island. The island will be attached by steel cables, which are carefully measured out. Too long, and the island will have too much play. Too short, and the island will be dragged under.
Once the anchors are attached, the dirt is dumped in, and seed is added. ?That?s about one coffee tin of seed, and two tins of fertilizer,? says Bruce. ?You?ll probably have to reseed every couple of years.?
And with that, an island is born.