Almost Done

Written by Jim Bredy
Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Photo of Jim Bredy.I echo Phil Thorpe’s (Southern Saskatchewan Crew Area) recent narrative about weather delays becoming harder to deal with towards the end of the survey. With only 15 segments left to fly (an easy morning’s flight), we are grounded in Grande Prairie, Alberta, due to rain, low ceilings and wind. It has been a long haul this year, due to unscheduled aircraft maintenance, a mandatory preventative maintenance inspection (for you airplane enthusiasts, the “100 hour”), several days of snow, rain and wind. The good news is that we are still alive. Flying in inclement weather kills pilots every year. As much as we love what we do, I echo the most memorable quote of my 25 year tenure with the FWS Pilot fraternity. The quote was by retired FWS Flyway Biologist, Jim Goldsberry, as he was mentoring me and advising me of the importance of getting the job done. “Remember, they are only ducks. They are not worth risking your life over.”

The “Peace Country” in Stratum 76 is still showing the effects of several dry years of little precipitation. This current rain will assist in replenishing the soil moisture and is making the farmers happy who recently planted their crops. However, unless there are some “gully washers,” the current level of rain will do little to assist in filling the seasonal wetland basins in this area this season. We will write a survey wrap-up narrative when we finish these last few segments, but until then we sit, wait, and are “Almost Done.”

This photo taken on May 20, 2012, is of an extremely large burned area in a bog/once forested area. It is located at the NW portion of Stratum 75, approximately 20 miles SE of the town of Slave Lake, Alberta. Although this area has little waterfowl use now, when wet, it does provide habitat for them. However, this area is currently experiencing a dry cycle. The forest is already starting to regenerate with new vegetation.

This photo taken on May 20, 2012, is of an extremely large burned area in a bog/once forested area. It is located at the NW portion of Stratum 75, approximately 20 miles SE of the town of Slave Lake, Alberta. Although this area has little waterfowl use now, when wet, it does provide habitat for them. However, this area is currently experiencing a dry cycle. The forest is already starting to regenerate with new vegetation. Photo by Jay Hitchcock, US FWS

This photo taken on May 20, 2012, is of a typical stream/wetland habitat in the northern portions of Stratum 75. It is located approximately 1/2 way between Edmonton and the town of Slave Lake, Alberta. This area overall is experiencing a dry cycle. However, these deeper streams/wetlands, many of which are enhanced by beavers, provide important waterfowl habitat.

This photo taken on May 20, 2012, is of a typical stream/wetland habitat in the northern portions of Stratum 75. It is located approximately 1/2 way between Edmonton and the town of Slave Lake, Alberta. This area overall is experiencing a dry cycle. However, these deeper streams/wetlands, many of which are enhanced by beavers, provide important waterfowl habitat. Photo by Jim Bredy, US FWS

This photo was taken in the western portion of Stratum 76, approximately 45 miles east of Dawson Creek, BC. There are plenty of wetland basins but little to no water in them. The

This photo was taken in the western portion of Stratum 76, approximately 45 miles east of Dawson Creek, BC. There are plenty of wetland basins but little to no water in them. The "Peace" Country is experiencing a dry weather pattern cycle. Photo by Jim Bredy, US FWS