Ducks Unlimited repairing dyke on Amherst marsh
An ounce of prevention
AMHERST - Ducks Unlimited is spending several thousand dollars to fix one of its largest dykes in the Amherst area.
Work began early last week on raising the level of the dyke several feet, with Baxter Trucking hauling in a couple hundred truckloads of fill to cover the 4,000-foot-long dyke on the marsh in East Amherst.
"It's a fairly big project," Ducks Unlimited conservation programs specialist Robert Fraser said Friday.
"The dyke in question has deteriorated over the years as the material it was built out of has broken down. It's very peaty soil with a lot of organics in it and what happens is that it sinks over time."
Fraser said the work is not much different than building a road embankment. There's a 15-foot wide road on top with a 31-degree slope.
While the dyke was not in danger of failing, Fraser said the excavation and repair is the first significant work on the structure since the 1980s. He said Ducks Unlimited has been monitoring the dyke closely for the last few years and once the funding was made available, it moved quickly to get bids and proceed with the repair.
Excavation work wrapped up Friday and Fraser expects crews to return to the site this summer to slope the dyke. He said last week's work was aided by the cold temperatures that allowed heavy equipment to work in the area without risk of sinking.
See MARSH REPAIR - Page 2
"We need the cold weather to stabilize the soil and allow heavy equipment to drive over it," he said.
Deanne Meadus, manager of conservation programs, said the dyke work will stabilize the wildlife habitat. Ducks Unlimitd spends a lot of time and money maintaining its infrastructure.
"Wetlands provide numerous benefits from clean water and recreationally it's used quite extensively in summer and in winter," she said, adding that at 3,700 acres the marsh protected by the dyke is among the largest in the area. "There's a lot of fishing that takes place there."
Fraser said Ducks Unlimited has a lot of work to do on the dykes at Amherst Point over the next few years.