I want to get an update posted on the Burchard Reservoir meeting held in Tecumseh this past Wednesday night. We had what I thought was a great turnout with about 26 members of the public attending and another 10 or so Game & Parks Commission and Nemaha Natural Resource District employees. One of our commissioners, Dr. Mark Pinkerton, was in attendance as well as the mayor of Tecumseh. Thank you to everyone that showed up!
One of our fisheries biologists, Tony Barada, and one of our engineers Jake Miriovsky had a PowerPoint on the Burchard project. I am not going to show you that entire presentation, but they had some handouts for folks to take home that outlined the entire project. Take a look at them. . . .
If some of you want to look closer at the details, here is a link to .pdf files of the same documents. If you click on this link a couple of times you should be able to magnify the images and take a closer look, Burchard .
That should tell you most everything you need to know about the Burchard Reservoir project. Let me summarize and add just a couple of comments. First of all, the work must be done. The leaky outlet structure has been there for over 50 years, and if nothing is done, we risk a complete failure. The fishery at Burchard has been outstanding and we do NOT want to drain the reservoir and lose it. The 10-foot drawdown should allow repair of the outlet structure without killing the entire fish community. While we are at it, we have the perfect opportunity to do some habitat work, protect a few shorelines where there has been some erosion, enhance angler access, and install a much needed and much improved new boat ramp.
The estimated cost, our best guess at this time, is somewhere in the neighborhood of $900,000. Funding will come from the Aquatic Habitat Program (i.e. the Aquatic Habitat stamp charge that is included in every fishing permit sold) and boating/angler access dollars that each state receives (i.e. excise taxes charged on the sale of all fishing and boating equipment). I say “thank you” to all of our anglers!
One last piece of information related to the project. Many folks know that Burchard Reservoir is one of the best habitats in the state for Massasauga rattlesnakes. Massasauga rattlesnakes are a state-listed threatened species. No, sorry, I know some of you hate snakes and especially poisonous snakes, but there will be nothing done to eliminate the 100+ Massasaugas that inhabit the area around Burchard Reservoir. As a matter of fact, the wetlands and shorelines of Burchard are especially important Massasauga habitats. During the warm months Massasauga rattlesnakes disperse into the grassy meadows around the reservoir, but in the fall they actually return to the wet fringes of the reservoir and associated wetlands because that is where they spend the winter! Massasauga rattlesnakes hibernate in crayfish burrows along the shorelines and wetlands of Burchard. That important habitat is needed by the Massasaugas and during the construction that habitat will be protected.
I believe that covers about everything I know about the Burchard Reservoir project. If I missed something or you have any questions, please ask!