Thursday, July 28, 2011

Crossing Rebuilt

By Kathy Whaley

Sometimes man thinks he has solved a problem, then Mother Nature comes along, and in the blink of an eye, shows him he had better head back to the drawing board. Back to square one we go. This happened with the creek crossing at the end of Meadow Pond Trail. Long years ago, an old iron bridge made it possible to cross the creek and access more remote parts of the Refuge without driving the many extra miles around from the other side. After the bridge washed out, a different type of crossing was installed that allowed vehicles to drive across the creek bed on a firm surface. Unfortunately, this crossing was not adequately stabilized so it, too, washed away. During heavy rain events, this currently dry creek bed becomes a raging torrent of water– moving anything in its way.

This summer, with help from regional USFWS engineers and Refuge staff member Jay Noel, a much better designed and built crossing has been installed. A ramp of concrete with several feet of large rip-rap (stone) on each side now stretches completely across the creek. Even though this section of the Refuge is not open to the public for driving (visitors may, however, hike or bike in this area), it is important to Refuge staff for routine law enforcement patrols, access during prescribed burns, or as an available route for responding to a wildfire. Another positive from this project is that the contractor who installed the crossing for us was kind enough to dig all of the metal from the old bridge out of the creek - even though this was not part of their contract - and it is on its way to being recycled!

We feel confident the new crossing will work perfectly as designed – but are still anxious to see it in action - if it ever rains again!

Photo by Wayne Meyer

To learn more about Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge, see the official website or

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