So Monday morning I joined the work crew of Alan Bragg, Frank Lak, and Rick Spofford down by the maintenance barn. Our objective for the day was to fill in as many of the washed out areas and holes caused by sunken muskrat holes on the Dike Trail as possible
I should have known better than to question whether the grey rainy conditions were going to disrupt their plans. Stephen "Ziggy" Zadroga from US Fish & Wildlife Service was there with the front end loader which greatly assisted our efforts.
Ziggy would fill the back of the pickup with a dirt and gravel mix, which we would then shovel into the holes and low spots. After throwing many shovels full of dirt, you start to think about how hard a muskrat had to work to dig that hole; especially when you realize that the muskrat didn't have a shovel.
Alan delivers a shovelful on target
Frank filling a muskrat hole along the path
Frank (left) and Rick (right) rake the fill level
Sometimes we would have to compact the dirt with our feet. A couple of places closer to the path we could use the "golf cart". The back end of the pickup truck was quite effective with its double wheels and the truck bed full of dirt and gravel.
Manually Compression Method
While we busy filling in individual holes, Ziggy filled in some of the low areas in the path that were washed away by this spring's flooding. He did have it much easier able to dump bucket loads of dirt and then smooth it down with the bucket. (That's probably why he's smiling.) When he finished, it was smoother than the surface of route 128! Finally the filled in parts of the path were covered with with stone dust to make a packed down surface.
Front End Loader is great for large washout areas
Ziggy happy not to have to shovel
Alan, Frank and Rick all started to volunteer from their interest in bird watching. I wondered to myself, if there are many photographers who volunteer to help maintain the refuges. It was obvious from our conversations that they get personal enjoyment from their giving back. Volunteering also allows you to see a side of the refuge that you don't see every day.
Before my critics start to abuse me for writing in the first person plural, using the royal "we", I must thank Alan for taking this photo to prove that I seen the shovel from both ends. In fact I was told that I had pretty good aim shoveling dirt out of the truck bed. So good that they offered to double my pay and keep me around for the afternoon.
However, I had committed to Amy that I would also mow the lawn today (more accurately - cut the hay). So wanting to live to see the end of this project, I headed home to ensure marital harmony.
Finally, I want to say thanks to Alan, Frank, Rick and Ziggy. Having had to watch my step while wandering around looking for my next photograph, I personally appreciate your time and efforts. Hope to work with you again.