Sunday, April 1, 2012


click on photos to enlarge

I have been working on a fish habitation project 80 miles west of here and in the vicinity of where I used to live.  The project was to create and install artificial habitation for fish on Melton Hill Lake.  I have entries on the blog showing the installation of discarded Christmas trees on the shorelines of the flood control lakes where I live.  We used bamboo for the artificial habitat.

I think I posted these few shots of gathering the bamboo in a previous entry but, wanted to add them to this part of the process.

This is what the top portions of the bamboo plant looks like.  It is leafy and will provide good cover for the fish when submerged.

The use of bamboo for fish habitat has never been used before in habitat restoration.  In a way, we are pioneers with this project.
Melton Hill Lake is bordered by a huge Department Of Energy (DOE) wild property.  It is off limits to the public and is gorgeous as there is nothing on it but grasses and trees.  The wildlife that lives there is diverse and enjoys a habitat that is natural.  We're talking enormous acreage.   We assembled the bamboo habitat on the shoreline.  There is no rocket science involved.  We had many discarded plastic buckets that we drilled holes in and inserted the bamboo through the holes.  The ends of the bamboo were tied with wire and 40 pounds of concrete was mixed in the bucket around the bamboo to hold the stalks in place and to weigh the buckets so they would sink and remain stationary on the bottom of the lake.

50 years of industry management and it was all to end up like this.
Very stressful work.  Very stressful!  "Hey - where'd you guys go?"
The pine tree habitat laying on the bottom of the lake is excellent habitat for spawning fish and also offers hiding places for the smaller species.  These bamboo habitats will provide cover for fish both large and small that suspend off the bottom.  

As you can see we stayed busy on the project

And over the side they go.

I really love doing these little projects.  Its a good feeling to help out the little critters and to contribute to ecology in some small way.  Another really good benefit to being over here is that I have the run of all this DOE land, as TWRA conducts many projects and wildlife studies here.  Many people think that Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is comprised of a bunch of game wardens who run around and hand out tickets to errant fishermen and hunters.  This is far from the case.  The agency is comprised of the best professional biologists anywhere.  Their law enforcement division not only protects wildlife but protects the citizens involved in enjoying wildlife.  Many of those citizens have less than honorable intentions when in the wilds.  TWRA works hand in hand with community organizations to educate and involve young folks in outdoor projects.  The young today are the stewards of our wild places tomorrow.  An example of a TWRA/community project is the building of bat habitat for the "little brown bat" AKA: "tri colored bat."  (Myotis Lucifugus).  The TWRA manager of the wildlife management area (WMA) at Oakridge on Melton Hill Lake worked out a project with the local Boy Scouts to build and install habitat boxes for these little bats.  The project was conducted on the same DOE land I mentioned earlier.  Not only did the scouts learn about an important member of our wildlife community but, they actually built habitat structure to help the little bats survive in an ever declining bat habitat.
These are wooden boxes attached to a tall pole and painted black.  They are hollow inside for the entire length and open on the bottom to allow the bats to enter.  They will cling to the inside of the box.  The black color will absorb the heat of the sun and keep the inside of the box warm both day and night.
I wonder if the boy scouts have a bat merit badge.  Probably not.  By the way - this type of bat habitat is named a pocket box and is meant to mimic the shag bark hickory.
The above is only one example of how TWRA interacts with the young folks in the local communities.  There are many, many projects designed to interact with the youth and to familiarize them with our wild neighbors.  I'm so happy to be a part of all this.  I have the best job in the world.
 Above and below is another type of bat habitat that is used for bat propagation.
Well, its time to take a spin around this huge expanse of land and see what we can see.  We heard a million turkeys gobbling all morning.  Lets see what we can find.
Well, well -  not a turkey but, she's sweet.
This is one of the amazing perks working for this agency.  I get to work in the environment I absolutely love.
We heard the gobbling of turkeys even as we took these photos.  There were turkeys everywhere.
 Its spring and the only thing on their minds is finding a mate.  Note the beard on the gobblers below.
There were turkeys everywhere.

Theres a really great old cabin on the property that is sometimes used for youth meetings and gatherings.
Its been a strenuous, high tension day working on this project and taking all those photographs.  Whew!  Somebody has to do it though.  Wonder what pressure filled, tedious, time consuming work I'll be into this week.  I'll let ya know.