Monday, July 15, 2013

The Water Logged Boys

Crew # 7
SNWA stream clearing 1/14/13-1/17/13

We started out on Monday morning excited to start a new project that none of us have ever done before, stream restoration and clearing.  A crew member short, it was the all-male crew at it again for another week.  At the shop Monday morning, our eyes still weary from lack of sleep the night before, we gathered our tools and all the gear needed for the next four days and nights.  As we left the shop at approximately six thirty in the morning, spirits were high.  When arriving at the Southern Nevada Water Authority headquarters, we met our project partner for the week, Biologist Dave.  He started out with a riveting presentation about the endangered Moapa Dace, a small fish that only habitats the narrow warm streams in the 1200 acre Moapa Valley area.  Our endeavor was to clear a stream corridor both for the ease of the annual fish count and to improve Dace habitat. 
From there we continued to our work site, steam rolling off the stream, 50 degrees warmer than the surrounding air.  Reluctant at first to enter, we soon found sanctuary from the frigid morning air in the warm, murky water.  In our very tight and stylish chest high waders, armed only with hedgers and loppers, we attacked the cattails as thick as a racoons hide in April, clearing a five foot wide path down the stream channel.  As the day persisted, two of us found out that our waders were less than adequate, filling up with the briny liquids that they were supposed to keep out.  We exited the relative warmth of the water for lunch, the air still frigid in the afternoon sun.  Huddle together in the truck to keep warm, we ate in silence, waiting for the water in our waders to freeze and bind us to them forever.  After lunch, finally back into the sanctuary of the warm stream, we were at it again, slaying the cattails.  As the day proceeds spirits get better; the sun warms our hearts and faces.  Our waders still filled, but we get used to the moist, prune feeling in our feet and legs. The stream channel only holds around a foot of water, but in certain areas we sink down to our hips in mud, forcing the shallow water to our necks.
The day wears on. We spend the time cutting cattails and dragging them to bank. Our leather gloves are filled with stream water, we will find out just how bad they are the next morning as we try to insert our cold fingers into frozen gloves. We resort to dipping them into the water to thaw them out before putting them on. The leaking waders get the same treatment. We start to form a routine of being cold but dry followed by periods of warm and wet; no rest or relief until we finally take off our waders for the last time of the week.

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