I'll try to help clear up some of the "fuzzy factoids".  I'll try to be
as accurate as I can, but I'm going off memory from conversations and
observations last fall and this spring, so if I err, I apologize.  It's
late and I'm tired, so this isn't going to be my most eloquent note.

Chris asks about last year's pumping efforts.  During the shorebird
migration last fall, there was shorebird habitat in Mallard Marsh, Snow
Goose pool, Moist Soil unit #1 and the "triangular" portion of Cattail
pool, to name a few areas.  For anyone not already bored with this note,
you can see these pools on the Squaw Creek map at:

These areas alternated in their effectiveness as "good" shorebird
habitat as different sections were drawn down and some areas (like
Mallard Marsh A) suffered from heavy evaporation.  The main areas that
completely dried up and were cracked were the larger water impoundments
(Pelican and Eagle pool) and then the smaller areas *after* they had
been used by shorebirds.  The shorebird numbers were good, but not
great, as the drought stricken oxbows (Big Lake, etc.) and other area
habitat attracted even larger numbers of birds than usual.

The pumping that was done last year was not advertised as targeting
shorebirds, but helping the habitat in general.  The propane pump in
question is located at the north end of Moist Soil unit #1 (refer to the
map) and eventually was able to impact the Moist Soil units, Cattail
Pool and Eagle pool.  Current water in all three of these areas is in
part due to this work.  This helped the waterfowl in general (and the
shorebirds and the management that was done for them) this spring.

Regarding the current situation, at least three areas are being focused
on (again) for shorebirds.

1) Snow Goose pool will gain water via diversion from Squaw Creek where
possible.  The triangular area (portion of Snow Goose) has been
consistently managed for shorebirds and has provided very good viewing
for birders.

2) Moist Soil Unit #1.  This will get help quickly from any pumping done
by the propane pump.

3) Cattail Pool - triangular shorebird patch.  This will gain water
being pumped from the main pool of Cattail, across the dike and into
this shorebird area.  The main Cattail pool water that is available for
this flooding is a direct result of the pumping done last year.  It's
been held high and is ready for this purpose.

Is Pelican Pool "dry and cracked"? has been since last summer
and continues to be.  We don't have a way to affect that.  Eagle Pool
has enough water that it is hoped to be used for the influx of ducks and
geese over the next few months, barring excessive evaporation and not
enough rain.  Will the Snow Geese use it?  Probably.  Is the refuge
managing other areas for shorebirds and other waterfowl?  Yes...with
each area being juggled with what little water is available from pumping
or rainfall.

In summary, the refuge has acted very deliberately for several years now
to increase the amount of suitable shorebird habitat, both up close for
viewing and otherwise.  To speak of conditions in general, without
talking on a pool by pool basis, discussing how each one has been
treated, with what resources and why, is not doing the situation

The pumping was started too late last year to affect the shorebird
migration, but it has helped with everything (including shorebirds)
since, in my opinion.  You just have to look at the individual pools and
management techniques to see it.

The other good recent news is that the private wells affected by the
Mallard Marsh (electric) pump are no longer needed by the those
individuals (they have county water now) and the refuge can use that
pump more often to affect Mallard Marsh and Pintail Pool.

The work that we're doing at Squaw Creek is not going to impact things
on a grand scale, since the entire region is being impacted by the
drought. On the other hand, (hopefully) we'll help some birds and
connect a few more people with nature in the process with what we are
able to accomplish.  I believe that this is a better situation than
leaving the pools dry.


Ed McCullough
Acting President
Friends of Squaw Creek NWR
[log in to unmask]
816-718-3861 (cell)

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