Eastern Dakotas

Being Part of a Ground Crew...

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Helina Alvarez
Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Photo of Helina Alvarez.If you’ve never been a part of a ground crew then it’s definitely worth giving it a try if you have an opportunity. I’m not talking about a group project at work or school. I’m talking about doing actual manual labor. This waterfowl breeding population survey isn’t crazy hard work, but it’s still work. May 19, 2016 concluded my second year being a part of the Eastern Dakota ground crew, and every year has been filled with personal growth. Not only does a crew grow as a group, but you tend to grow as an individual as well. You figure out what you can tolerate and have patience for and what you can’t. There are days when some of the crew may not be able to work to their fullest potential and the others pick up their extra work. A good crew doesn’t complain about it because it’s not considered doing someone else’s work. It’s viewed as working as a team. The long sweaty days, the high winds, the ducks flushing before you even get to the wetland. Dealing with these difficulties is doable when a crew can work together. You may come from different backgrounds, and you may have different lifestyles, but if you can find a middle ground, then anything is possible.

Kruse Control

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Pam Garrettson
Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Pam Garrettson.We completed the eastern Dakotas survey last Thursday, May 19th, a record early finish. We started early and only had two weather days. Conversely, the western Dakotas ground crew, led by Tony Roberts, got snowed on in Montana, and that, plus a few other complications, delayed them a week, so they finished the same day we did. We both found, contrary to last year, much wetter conditions in southern South Dakota, then drier conditions as we moved north. So we all met up in Minot, sent two of my crew back to Denver with the Eastern Dakotas truck (thanks to Dave Olson in the region 6 office), and Tony and I began the two-day drive back to Maryland.

Survey Completed in Eastern Dakotas

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Terry Liddick
Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Terry LiddickWell, today, May 18th, Dave and I completed the final transects of the Eastern Dakota’s survey area. We departed Devil’s Lake and completed the two transects that stretch from the area just west of Minot and continued west to the Montana border.

Who's Missing?

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Pam Garrettson
Monday, May 16, 2016

Pam Garrettson.Last time I wrote, I alluded to the loss of grasslands and wetlands in the Eastern Dakotas crew area. This isn’t about water, though water is obviously important for breeding ducks. Though southern South Dakota was wetter than it has been in quite a few years, as we moved north things have been much drier, and that’s okay. Wet-dry cycles keep wetlands healthy; years of high water and phosphate fertilizer runoff had turned many larger wetlands into cattail-choked messes that were of little benefit to wildlife, or water too deep to support emergent vegetation at all. Some of these have now gone completely dry, and have been mowed, burned and even plowed through. But when water returns to those basins, their seed banks will sprout and create the nutrient-rich “hemi-marsh” (half emergent vegetation, half open water) that ducks and other waterbirds favor.

Eastern Dakotas Ground Crew Making Great Progress

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Terry Liddick
Monday, May 16, 2016

Terry LiddickThe Eastern Dakotas crew assembled in Mitchell, SD, this year on May 2nd. Once again, I have Dave Fronczak as my observer, the sixth consecutive year we have been the aerial crew. The ground crew this year is being led by Pam Garrettson, a veteran of many years of ground crew leadership in both the Eastern Dakotas and Western Dakotas and Montana. She has 2 returning members from last year, Stephen LeJeune and Helina Alvarez, Stephen’s 3rd year and Helina’s second. They also have Clay Edmonson. It is his first year on the BPOP ground crew, but he has done four square mile plots in the past. So we have a very veteran ground crew as well this year.

My Crew Has My Back

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Pam Garrettson
Friday, May 13, 2016

Pam Garrettson.We started the eastern Dakotas survey earlier than normal, on May 3rd. Helina Alvarez, a veteran of last year’s crew, and I planned to do the southernmost, and typically driest, air-ground segment in the crew area, then drive to Sioux Falls to pick up the rest of our very experienced crew late that afternoon. Stephen Lejeune has returned for his third year on the survey, and newcomer Clay Edmondson is no stranger to waterfowl surveys, having done them at his previous job at Medicine Lake NWR.

Finishing Strong

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Terry Liddick
Monday, June 01, 2015

Terry LiddickThe Eastern Dakota’s survey has wrapped up and it turned out quite a bit different than the way it started. After seven days of waiting for the skies to clear and the rain and snow to depart the area, we resumed flying and found quite a different picture than what I reported earlier. We finished the last two days of the survey from Devil’s Lake, ND, and completed the survey on May 25th. North Dakota continued to look good and the ducks responded well to the recent rain. When we first arrived, it appeared that North Dakota was in better shape than South Dakota, and there was no doubt about that after a few more days of rain.

Eastern Dakotas Finally Finished

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Kammie Kruse
Friday, May 29, 2015

Photo of Kammie Kruse.When we were looking out our hotel window at the start of our 6th down day due to weather—and knew that two more were on the horizon—it looked like we would never finish the Eastern Dakotas ground survey, or even get into North Dakota! But starting May 19 we got to work again and did not stop until we were done nine days later. As Terry has written in his blog, when we finally got into North Dakota, the habitat conditions improved and duck numbers increased from what we had seen in South Dakota. Though I will say they are nothing like they were a few years ago in our peak wetland years; instead, many wetlands are leaning towards the drier side. North Dakota definitely helped our overall duck count this year, but this was a lower count than in recent years, with many ducks flying on past to the Canadian prairies and bush country.

Finally Some Moisture

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Terry Liddick
Sunday, May 24, 2015

Terry LiddickWe have turned the corner in the eastern Dakotas. After six consecutive days of sitting in the rain, things have improved substantially—on the ground and in the air. We have now flown six consecutive days and things are looking a lot better. We thought we would get to fly on the 15th, and that turned out to be a false start. We sat the whole morning waiting on ceilings and visibility to improve and they did, but not until nearly noon. So, with the way the forecast was going, it looked like if we moved from Jamestown, ND, from Aberdeen, SD, we may get to fly somewhere on the 16th, so move we did.

Tough Year Shaping Up

Eastern Dakotas
Written by Terry Liddick
Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Terry LiddickIt’s shaping up to be a tough year all the way around for the Eastern Dakotas survey. So far, we are only batting .500 on flying days, having only been able to fly 4 out of eight days so far due to weather. The forecast doesn’t seem to show any signs of increasing efficiency either. We were able to fly today for the first time in the Aberdeen, SD, area after sitting for the past two days. We saw a bit of everything the past two days as far as weather goes. We had a lot of rain, a little snow, a lot of wind and were able to depart Mitchell just before a tornado passed through the area just to the south, decimating the town of Delmont, near our Parkston air-ground segment that we had flown just the day prior. And believe me, that is the good news as far as the survey goes.

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