Thursday, April 01, 2010

Activity in The Sanctuary

Jim and Diane wrote a month or so ago, about the upcoming improvements to the bird blind in the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary. The old structure is gone, having been removed in four very large sections and then dissambled in the staff parking lot - temporarily converted to a worksite.

Yesterday there were a number of screw piles placed in the ground at the site of the new blind. They were placed so that the construction company could conduct a test on whether or not they would be acceptable.

A note on the screw piles. Because the bird blind is heavy and sitting out over a wetland (surrounded by water and resting on soft mud) the decision was made to have the structure raised up. This ensures minimal disturbance to the substrate and minimal interference with the plants and animals that call the Sanctuary home. Traditionally piles are pounded into place by a pile driver; a big, heavy piece of equipment that we certainly do not want crawling around in and destroying the wetland. They also create tremendous vibration in the ground and lots of noise pollution from all the pounding.

By contrast, screw piles are screwed into the ground by what essentially is a power auger mounted to the front of a small skid-steer or similar rubber-tracked vehicle, like a micro-excavator. So, the structure gets the supporting piles it needs to keep it from sinking and the Sanctuary - and all the critters that live there - experience significantly less disturbance to both themselves and their habitat.

So, now we wait a little bit longer. There are some brackets to come in from galvanizing that will be welded to the top of the screw piles and then things can get going in earnest. Just as the old structure came out in four big pieces, we expect that the new one will be built in large sections that will then be moved into place and bolted together. Our contractors should be commended for their willingness to work within the restrictions that such a fragile habitat places on them.

Keep visiting the Sanctuary over the next few weeks. The progress from now until the middle of April should be, shall we say, rapid.

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