16 Dec A ‘Typical’ Day at Trinity River
In this job, there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ day. Working on a National Wildlife Refuge, there’s no shortage of tasks, maintenance, or outreach activities to perform. Our priorities shift season to season, week to week, and day to day. What we do depends on the phenology– the natural cycles– of the refuge and the needs of the community.
For example, before duck season starts in late fall, one of your typical work days might be to take the kayak out to check water levels at the hunting spots on Champion Lake. This year, the lake level was down particularly low, and we had to walk into some spots on foot. After we got some rain and the water level rose in the lake, we spent several days taking the boat out with some hand saws and loppers to trim small trees and shrubs out of the duck hunting spots.
The summer and spring are prime growing seasons for grass, so a typical summer day might consist of mowing a parcel of land or two so that our public use areas don’t become overgrown. In between mows, you might get to install some interpretive trail signage about animal scat!
Every so often, we have the resources to do a tree planting event with a local school district. If you’ve ever attended a tree planting, you might think it’s a fairly simple process: show up, dig some holes, and fill ’em. Now I can appreciate the multi-day preparations that take place behind-the-scenes for these events. We had to carefully transport hundreds of delicate oak, sycamore, and other saplings, and then gather just as many wooden stakes and sapling protectors and drop all of that off along with some mulch and tools at the planting sites. The process for planting the trees takes weeks in and of itself and has to be done the year prior to give the saplings enough time to grow sturdy enough to survive winter freezes. Our tree plantings have generated quite the positive buzz around town, and we’ve been contacted about doing several more!
The only somewhat consistent day of the week here is Friday. On Fridays, we meet at the local elementary school for our Jr. Ranger program. Each week, we introduce some new biological concept like migration, light pollution, or pollination and teach the kids about it using videos, lessons, activities, live animals, or games, We want the kids to learn about, appreciate, and explore nature. Some of the fun things we’ve done with the kids include eating insects, finding native flowers in a scavenger hunt, and encountering cool wild animals like snakes, spiders, frogs, raccoons, alligators, and even an Amphiuma– an aquatic salamander.