Last year when we developed the site at White River Marsh State Wildlife Area we were under serious time constraints. When the permits were finally in place we only had two weeks before the birds were scheduled to arrive. In that short period we had to dig a depression and surround it with chain link fence to create a wet pen area. Then we had to build a dry pen using 4×4 posts and 2×4 stringers. We lined that structure with steal roofing material driven two feet into the ground to deter digging predators and we covered the entire structure with top-netting.

While this was underway, we also had to build an access road. The main entrance road to the pensite area is about a half mile long and ends at a gravel parking area. From there a path led over a stream and out into a flat, albeit overgrown, area that eventually became our runway. That path had to be built up with earth, topped with gravel and allowed to dry for a week or two before it would support vehicles. That meant most of the material we used to create the pens had to be carried out by hand or loaded into the bucket of a bobcat.

Wisconsin DNR staff also built a water structure along the access road to drain the entire upland area. The day after the road was finally finished, we had 5 inches of rain that covered the spillway but the roadbed held. We used it all summer to access the pen area.

Yesterday they had another five inches of rain but this time the road gave way. That rain event followed two other heavy rain days and the backup was just too much. We will have to wait until the water level drops to see how much material has washed away and how much we will have to replace.

The good news is that the runway has been leveled and is now nice and flat.
The bad news is that it is too wet to seed and so far it’s just dirt – or mud.
The good news is the water levels are up and the wet pen is full.
The bad news is that the road is gone.
The good news is that it can be fixed.
The bad news is that it will cost.

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