Mitford Trout Ponds
There is an important relationship between the mayor of Cochrane, and the community that he came from! When the town of Cochrane started stocking trout in Mitford ponds, they asked me if I would help get things started, so I did. It ended up in a ten-year commitment, before Andy Degraw took over in the 11th year of the program.
A few years in, I knew that the lower pond, which winter killed on a regular basis, could be deepened to resolve this problem and reduce the stocking costs that were required annually to keep the program going.
There was a bit of a commitment from the town, so this was good enough for me, they agreed to pay the bill, if I could get it done on the budget that I submitted, with the proposal and plan.
To achieve this goal, Bow Valley Habitat Development would front the money to get the project done, and then bill the town, because the commitment was already made, it was the easiest way, thanks to Parks Director, Jim Anderson!
Next was the community commitment to get involved and help keep the costs down for the budget. Special thanks went out to Bary Bryant, of Bryant Construction, which is still in operation today, Bary took care of lining up the equipment and then we could add some more faces in the program. The costs came in at slightly below normal, with extra contractors brought in once the project got started.
We finished, just under budget, so my own bank account was saved the lower pond got deepened at a very reasonable price. The entire bill came to just over $8,000.00 and I had budgeted for $10,000.00, so everyone was happy and the trout would be too! Along with the anglers that is!
The reason I brought up this topic, is because I was communicating with the mayor, via email, and then the memories came back and I did remind him of that project, way back when! You see, the mayor, Jeff Genung was the track hoe operator for that project. After completion, I did complement Jeff on the great job that he did on the slopes of the deepened pond and the rest!
Before the deepening, and as part of the overall budget, I had hired a drill truck to drive onto the ice of the pond, over the proposed deepening area, and get some core samples to ensure that sufficient clay of the right quality was available for safely lining the deep area, so no seepage traveled beyond the shoreline or out the bottom.
It turned out as expected, because I had already completed some research and found out that the gravel pit that once existed there, had been abandon because of the clay, so this was my ace up my sleeve on this gamble, not that I would ever cheat in a gamble, unless I knew it was going to work! There ended up being over 20 feet of high-quality clay.
You can tell high quality clay for lining a pond or lake, by rolling it into a long rod, in your hands, and then bending it full circle, to connect the ends. If the clay does not crack, it is high quality clay for a pond or lake. Lake require thicker liners, but a pond is said to need at least 8 inches or 10, deepens on whom you talk to, but my choice is a good foot thick, because there are often large round rocks or sandstone in clay, on most sites.
If the truck went thru the ice, there was only a few feet of water, so it wasn’t a life death thing or anything like that, but rather un-nerving when the ice cracked with a vengeance, when the auger of the drill tried to get the hole started, by applying a lot of force. I was piloting a hole with an ice auger to helpout, but the auger was a 6 inch, so that is a lot of steel to auger/push thru ice, especial considering the sharpness of an earth auger, not an ice auger was used.
Kinda’ funny if you are thinking back on it! The operator of that drill truck was a fearless Cochrane resident, but he had worked as a north country operator, so he knew his stuff! The back wheels were lifted off the ice surface when the pressure on the auger was at max, for getting started.
There are always gambles when working on the ice, as you may well already know! This is were the community comes into play to get things like this done, so the old saying “It takes a community” is right on the mark.
Today, I was watching Z plead before the European Council for more support, as he is now famous for, but much loved at the same time! In the audience, a small group of supporters held up there signs, which were not in protect, but rather very supportive. The signs read “ We Stand With You”, which in my mind means we stand with freedom and democracy, working together like a community! Standing Together as Allies!
Something like this means a lot to someone like me nowadays, so it makes you reflect back in years, to your own experiences of help, to get things done that are so worthwhile for the community.
Following the deepening, I started the “Kids Fishing Clinic”, which ran for a number of years, but the town clamped down on our wiener roasting over the fire pit or on a camp stove, without the proper kitchen to prepared food for the public. What a bummer hey?
It was from there on in, it turned out to be a town fun vehicle event, annually, which I thought was great, and even helped out on a few of the events. The whole idea behind the kids fishing clinic, was to provide an introduction of the ponds to the public, and it worked out wonderfully, with lots of kids, catching their first trout, with the guidance of there parents or one of the many volunteer experts that got involved and helped me out every year.
It was fun, and it turned out to be what I hoped it would!