Tag Archive: stream restoration


She did WHAT?

Plunder Branch Hwy 62

It’s Perfect! Go Anywhere!

That’s right, settle down, I left. Yeah yeah – I left the amazing team that has been my family for almost 10 years. I had been….well – it’s complicated. Let’s just leave it at – I was ready for something new! The bad news is that we are all scattered a bit. Good news is – well – we still all work together.

“How the heck do you work together if you work at different companies, ” you might ask -well – that’s a very interesting story…so here it goes.jac+kristen+logo

We build streams. You know that – we study, create, monitor, design, and build streams (among a million other things). We work with some fairly awesome contractors. Last year, we built a stream in an undisclosed area with a small firm from a nearby city. They were amazing. The stream was almost 10000′ long and turned out beautifully.

Sadly, we lost more than Jess last year. We lost a great colleague who worked on our stream with the contractor. So, long story short, I now work for the owner as his stream guru. I will literally be building the streams my old team designs!

Yep – we are all lucky people. Not only that, I also get to do some pretty awesome “save the world” stuff too. Oh – add onto that I work for a great guy and have an amazing crew! I IMGP8439will tell more about that later….so don’t worry – the Chicks with Ticks (and John and Josh) will still have wild adventures and stories to tell. You will just have to keep up with us!

Get out there – and GO ANYWHERE!!!

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Repost – Ancient Landscapes

Once connected by an ancient land bridge to the deserts of the southwest, the Lake Wales Ridges State Forest boasts some similar species that were later trapped in this area when the ice receded. The wave action and shallow waters created a most unusual landform which is still visible today from the air.

Hiking out of the scrub and into the cypress dome was quite surprising.

What you will find on the ground is equally interesting. In the midst of shallow grassy marshes, there are two cypress domes. I know – that’s crazy right – cypress domes don’t belong on the ridge. Well, they are there. And they are gorgeous. Of course they differ from the swampy cypress domes in that they rely on water travelling underground through seepage rather than flowing over the surface.

Just standing in the middle of the dome after hiking through scrub habitat dominated by white sand and scrub oaks – sharp things and arid conditions – I looked around in total wonder at the soft ferns and mucky loam I was standing on. This seemed to me to be a very unique kind of forest. I felt lucky to be taking photos while my field partner Kevin rejoiced in the beauty as well.

It’s not hard to admit that we feel fortunate to be able to see these places. Truth is, everyone can as they are part of the Lake Wales Walk In Water WMP and are totally publicly accessible. You can even bring your horses and camp! IMGP0082  http://www.floridaforestservice.com/state_forests/lake_wales_ridge.html

As always, these areas are home to some very special plants and animals. Even the soil can’t be disturbed. Please enjoy with your eyes and take no prisoners!

IMGP0092
The transition from upland scrub to cypress dome!

 

It was storming this morning….

 Today, that’s right, today, I woke to a Florida summer thunderstorm rolling around in my head – and outside my window. Normally, this is the part where I turn over and go back to sleep. Part of the benefits of being an on-call employee and working partially for yourself is the freedom to say, “Oh, it’s raining. I wouldn’t want to get wet so I shall go back to sleep.”

Today I did the opposite. I jumped forth quickly, donned my usual khaki (and unsexy look as Allen so pleasantly calls it) and squished out the door. I was headed to one of my favorite creeks.

No, it’s not a crystal clear pristine natural stream. It’s a created stream. I have been working in this stream for over 5 years now. I have seen it as a small shy controlled thing. I have helped it grow into a wild, sinuous, sandy bed thing that is home to many amazing creatures.

But this is not about the stream….not directly. It’s about how the love of what we do is a natural thing. It’s how I worked with a construction crew today. Most of the crew doesn’t speak good English. It didn’t stop the natural and easy communication once we began to work in the stream.

We were making improvements to some areas that have gone a little too wild. As I began working – I explained with gestures what I was trying to create. The crew nodded. One man – young man – in particular, smiled hugely. He began grabbing materials from the forest and putting the right where I would….and looked at me for approval. I laughed and nodded. He GOT IT!!!

I then asked if he spoke English. “Yes,” he replied. I quickly took the opportunity to share some science behind what we were doing and how it was a natural gift – to be able to see what the stream needed. I had taken a seat on a big log in the middle of the stream – soaking, muddy, and thrilled. He told me that he could see that I loved this place. He said he could see the love of this stream when I worked. He asked if I made it.

I told him that we were all making it. That is was like raising a child. You make it – you teach it – you train it – you keep checking on it – you feel sad when something goes wrong – you feel happy when it goes right. I told him that streams were a lot like naughy children and if left alone too long without supervision – they go wild and do naughty things. That’s why we were there. To supervise and retrain it to behave. To make it act like a beautiful stream and not like a wild ugly thing that man made.

He was amazed. He and I were both quiet for a long time. We were looking at the stream. We were seeing it with the same eyes. I said to him that I could see that he loved this place. I said I could see that he, too, now loved this stream. I told him that what he felt was special. The way he looked at the stream and how it behaved was special. 

As we finished working, the stream was looking much more like a beautiful stream and less like a wild toddler. It will take a while, but it will remember its lessons and behave for a while longer. It will grow. It will change. I will go back and supervise. I might retrain it someday again.

What I sincerely hope is that the young man also goes back to see how his love and vision created something beautiful.

springToday I had the pleasure of presenting our stream classification study to a wonderful group of people – the Master Gardeners of Sarasota County, Florida. It turns out there are Master Gardeners all throughout Florida. The program is run through the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). Its mission is to train a core of volunteers to assist the county extension agent in delivering information to residents on how to design, plant, and care for their plants and landscapes in a Florida-Friendly way. Please visit their website to find out more about this AWESOME program:
http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/mastergardener/about/index.shtml

jac+kristen+logoI’m hoping I was able to inspire some Master Gardeners to get outdoors and enjoy our state’s amazing resources. Maybe they’ll even become Chicks with Ticks (since many of them were women)! The Gardeners definitely inspired me to turn my black thumb green, and even gave me a couple free plant clippings (I’ll let you know how that goes). Thank you so much to Bob at Sarasota County’s IFAS extension office for inviting our team to speak. Always a pleasure talking about what we do and love because…
In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.” – Baba Dioum

We study them to make sure they behave!

When you’ve been doing this as long as we have the way we have, you sort of forget that you are actually practicing science/art! In the beginning, we worked hard to read until our eyes bled. We wanted to know what other scientists had found that worked. We wanted to absorb the data, feel the methods, develop hypothesis…then, we went out on our own and began to attempt to regurgitate it all out into the world.

It was amazing what we found that didn’t work. It sounded so sure on paper. It was cool what did work – some of it just intuition. I think we mostly have more water and mud in our veins than blood and now we think and breathe streams. We can walk up, smell the mud, catch some bugs, have Josh look at the fish, and know which ones need us the most.

Sometimes we go through a lot!

Most people have no idea what we do. What we do is, in Jacque talk, very simple. We study streams. We see what’s wrong and we prescribe a sort of medicine for them so that they function better and make the world a better place. I like to tell people that, not so many years ago, it was normal for some company to have a guy drive a backhoe in a wiggly line and then let the water meander. That was stream restoration in the past.

We found all those wiggly ditches. Companies spend millions of dollars fixing them now because they don’t work right. That’s what we do – fix wiggly ditches and make them act like proper streams (or as near as we can) and we don’t build streams with backhoes much anymore. We like to do things a little differently.

So, here’s my attempt to explain some of the ways we do things.

We start by studying real pristine streams of all kinds. We study them to death. We live them, breathe them, smell them, taste them and generally go to sleep with them until we are them! We take what we learn and literally build streams that will look just like them. We fix sick streams to act more like the proper ones.

Things that should be there.

Don’t beat me up all you nay sayers….we don’t put back microbes and every grain of frigging soil….this is reality! We aren’t god…

We put things in the streams that should be there so the living things can be there too. We help simulate many years of flow that would have carved a new stream. We try to mimic as much of what nature gives to make a new stream! We can’t do it all, but every day we try to give more and more.

We watch the baby streams and the streams we’ve fixed. We make sure that they are behaving and not acting up. We fix them more if need be. We count things like bugs and plants and trees. We take out nasty things that could ruin the place. We love them, nurture them, care for them, are proud of them, and hope that one day – you will too.

That’s what we do. And it’s really cool – and we love it!

Morphology

I stand just knee-deep in the water

Watch and smile as the current flows by

And I ache just to think of the fishes

Swimming by as I ruffle their sky

Lake County Illinois

 

How I long to be one with the riffles

Lilting wetly and moving the sand

Making fun of the footsteps of mortals

Whose futile work falls on the land

 

Then I spy in a pool small swamp darters

Smiling keenly and moving about

Knowing nothing is ever forever

As my hand moves the lilies about

It’s so temping to join in the living

Feel the tug of the algae beneath

Lose myself to these waves of abandon

Sink my soul, sink my hands, sink my feet

 

I lie down in the life-giving wetness

Let it slide over my tired life and limb

Close my eyes to the bright rays of sunshine

Grab a fistful of muck in the dim

From Professional Bow Hunters Society website

 

I grow roots fins and gills as I lie here

I breathe rain and the muck warms my scales

Then I wriggle away with my soul mates

As a bowfin nips hard at my tail.

 

I escape to the pools and the thalwegs

I give over to point bars and runs

Leave behind all the worry and sadness

To the men toiling hard in the sun

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