Sunday, December 13, 2015

More wildlife news

The museum has beavers. The S.O. and I took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather yesterday to finish installing the half-round siding on the east end of the building. Siding installation had come to a screeching halt there back in September when time and ambition ran out more or less simultaneously. We were, in fact, both so thoroughly burnt out on that siding project that a couple weeks ago I talked with a guy who does handyman type stuff, small projects most contractors don't want to mess with, about finishing the work for us. In addition to needing to do the last two rows on siding on the east end, there's also the south wall that needs another 14 sheets or so of T1-11 put up and a delaminating door on the west end of the storage building that should be replaced. Not a whole lot of work but enough to keep the guy busy for a day or two. He promised to get back to me ASAP with a price; I'm still waiting for that phone call. I told the S.O. he should look into doing odd jobs -- the guys who advertise as handymen must be doing okay if they can be as cavalier about following up on requests as the couple I've dealt with since getting involved with the museum.

Museum as seen from the southeast. Yes, I know the placement of the storage building door makes no sense. When they moved that garage, it's like they set it up backwards. The truly stupid thing is they put it at the extreme end of the concrete pad so it's just ordinary dirt and sod right in front of that door. Totally, totally illogical. Anyway, the pavilion the Baraga High School construction trades class is building for us is visible to the west of the storage building. The trusses are all up and the students should start roofing soon. 
In any case, it was decent weather and I really wanted the siding done. Finishing the siding would mean no 14-foot long pieces on the floor in the storage building that I'd have to step around every time I went in there. It would also mean we could clear out the pile of scrap pieces, all the short odds and ends that had been left over but we couldn't discard until all the siding was up. And now it's up and the odds and ends have moved to our woodshed -- I anticipate a future for them as kindling. I'm not sure if that siding is pine or spruce, but it definitely burns really easily.

Looking across the wetland/pond across the Bay to L'Anse
I am, incidentally, still feeling a bit smug about how close I came on estimating how much siding the museum would need for that job. We ran out of long pieces with two rows to go (another thing that brought the siding to a halt in September; the last 4 long pieces didn't get delivered until just before we had to leave for Missouri), and there actually wasn't much scrap left over. We filled a cardboard box or two with really short pieces (i.e., chunks under a foot long), but there weren't many that were more than 2 feet in length.

So where do beavers come into this story? After the S.O. was set up to work on the siding, I went wandering over to our wetland. There's a pocket park, a not-so-natural area between the museum grounds and Keweenaw Bay. It's a wetland that was created about 25 years ago as mitigation when a small marina went in just down the shoreline. It was planted with wetland shrubs and forbs -- speckled alder, willow, cattails, etc. -- and provides habitat for various critters. Every summer there are redwing blackbirds nesting in the area, we see occasional ducks and for sure we see geese (they do a pretty comprehensive job of fertilizing the lawn).
There's a beaver lodge starting to grow in that clump of cattails.
And now there are beaver. I had noticed some of the shrubbery was looking a little thin, that it was easier to see into the area than was the case in previous years. I put it down to higher lake levels drowning cattails. I may have been wrong. I think things are looking thinner because beavers are pruning the speckled alders. There appears to be a beaver lodge growing in the water, and there are a lot of fresh stumps. Given the ability of speckled alder to regenerate, I'm not too worried they're going to eat it all. I just hope that lodge keeps growing so it's more visible. One of these days we're doing a grant application to the Michigan DNR for money for constructing an actual short, accessible trail along the perimeter of that wetland, and it would be cool to have a beaver lodge to include in the interpretive signage.

The original application for the mitigation, the document that was filed with the U.S. Corps of Engineers and other interested parties, showed a trail completely circling the wetland. It included a pedestrian bridge over the opening from the wetland/pond to the lake. In the fine tradition of property owners everywhere -- I found myself remembering what ConAgra did to the City of Omaha a couple decades ago with their artificial lake -- the marina owner slapped a chain link fence up on that end of the wetland effectively killing any chance of a complete circle. Which is actually okay, because it means no reason to bother spending money trying to bridge the outlet; we'll plan a trail that dead-ends at a bench where one can sit and enjoy the view of the Celotex plant on the other side of the bay in L'Anse.

1 comment:

  1. Wetlands are a wonderful asset to learning. C/W beavers is perfect.


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