Playgrounds, Trails, and Fish Pinatas

Now that we are in the tail end of July and the beginning of August, things could not be going any better here in Mississippi.  On July 22nd, we got a new team member from San Diego named Frankie.  Frankie jumped right in on his second day in Mississippi and began surveying with Sophie as her mentor, and has already gotten the hang of doing surveys and dealing with all of the “unique” visitors we sometimes get here in North Mississippi. 

 

On July 25th we had our first big conservation day at Enid Lake.  We helped the Corps fix up an old playground that needed some a little TLC and a little sweat and blood.  We began the day by carrying 16 foot 6x6 boards into the playground to lay out a new outline for the playground and walkways to later be filled in with sand.  After a little cutting with the chainsaw and a little finesse fitting with a sledge hammer we got all of the boards in place where they needed to be.  This is when Bubba, a ranger, began drilling holes in the beams so that we could anchor them down with rebar.  This is when it got interesting.  In order to get the rebar through the holes we had to use a sledge hammer to force them down.  Everyone eventually realized that sledge hammers we not as much fun as they thought because we got exhausted too fast and even had another SCA intern at the lake, Lindsey, get her finger caught between a piece of rebar and the handle of the sledge hammer.  Once we had all of the rebar down and the beams anchored, we began filling in the area with sand, while using tractors to bring it in.  Once it was all done, we had a great time and had a great sense of accomplishment that we had made an area better for people to bring their children.

 

The following Monday on the 29th, we had our next conservation day at Natchez Trace.  Natchez Trace is a park that is kept up by the National Park Service and covers three states, covers 52,000 acres of land embracing four ecosystems and eight watersheds, and runs roughly 440 miles.  With a park of this magnitude, volunteers are always welcomed to help with work, and that is just what we did.  We went out to an area named Donivan Slough, which is a quick walking trail.  The trail had not had any maintenance done to it in years and was in need of a facelift.  We went in with shovels, rakes, machetes, and limb cutters.  This was strenuous work and the six of us, as well as a NPS ranger, and another SCA intern named Jay, worked throughout the morning and into the afternoon to clear the trail so that hikers could walk it again.  After several hours of work we could finally see our progress and could see the finish line in sight.  We finally finished around 2 o’clock and were hot and sweaty, but had a feeling of accomplishment once we looked back and saw how great the trail looked. 

 

Some other bit of excitement at the parks was the draining of the Enid Lake spillway. Every 5 years, rangers at Enid Lake drain the spillway for inspection and as the water gets lower, the remaining fish are trapped in a very small pool of water. The community is invited to come and grab as many fish as they would like with fish nets or bare hands only. Needless to say, a fisherman’s pinata. Watch this!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEY6mKuGI7o

After two long weeks, we have had a great time getting to know our new team member, and had some great projects that went smoothly.  The finish line is in sight now and we are all starting to get anxious for those last few days of surveying, while still having some great conservation days remaining.  Tune back in two weeks and hear the next chapter from the Army Corps of Engineers Survey Team in Mississippi.

Written by John Glenn