High Water at Dogland


June 6:  Okay so NOW the river is higher than last year. The flooding at the park is worse than I’ve ever seen.  The area where Zeus and Pepé were standing in the photo below is completely underwater. The ditch road is still mostly dry. In one area water is running across the road from the ditch into the park. The riverside and lower trails are underwater. A few of the boulders in the rip rap at the end of the ditch road have washed away and the top layer has slid down into the water. If you’re planning to go down there, wear waders or water shoes. The water is cold. The river is really wild right now!

High water has flooded Dogland. So far it’s not as bad as last year. The town has put out the plywood bridge near the pond so park users can access the ditch road, which is still dry, plus the drier sections of the riverside trail.

Janet Aluise, community development director, contacted me last week. She said the town wants to do some clean-up at the park. They had a youth work group scheduled to come in the week of June 6, to work on brush cutting and removal. She asked if I would do a walk-through of the park with her and Gerry Pace, the public works director, to point out some problem areas. Their main concern is brush clearing for wildfire mitigation. With the combination of standing dead trees, downed dead trees, and brush piles, a lightning strike could result in a major wildfire, which would wipe out the island vegetation and habitat.

The morning of June 1, I met with Janet, Gerry, and Joe Lundeen. Because of the high water, the youth work group has been postponed and will be re-scheduled after peak run-off. A small group of park users joined us for the walkabout. They had the opportunity to thank Joe Lundeen in person for engineering the rip-rap at the end of the ditch road which has solved a significant riverbank erosion problem. Ray Lackey volunteered to cut up the dead and down trees and will stack up the wood. Once he’s done, anyone who wants to haul the logs out of the park for firewood will be free to do so.

I also learned something interesting about a species of shrub in park. Tod thought it was knapweed. Others have said it’s Russian olive. There’s a whole bunch of it throughout the park.

The shrub isn’t Russian olive or knapweed. Gerry Pace contacted GarCo Vegetation Manager Steve Anthony after our walkabout. He identified it as the Silver Buffaloberry, a native species.

Between the public works department, volunteer park users, and eventually the youth work group, work will be done on problem areas during the summer months. Targeted areas include the north side of the pond where a bunch of tamarisk stumps pose a hazard, and the many brush piles scattered through the park. So if you see trail workers in the park, chill out. Don’t panic. No big changes are in the works. It’s all good. We’re just cleaning up the place. Stop and pitch in, or just say “thanks”.

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