Liberty Nature Preserve



Well, we gotta start lining up the necessary products for the "big dig" this coming year.  The Winter-Spring '05-'06 page is an outline of the projects.  This page will pick up the dream and document the preparations to make it a reality.  If somebody had told me 20 years ago that I would be doin' the stuff I'm doin' right now, I would have laughed it off as not likely, dude...but here I am and here we go!

Draining our funds...?

A key engineering facet of this entire dig is installation of a construction drain.  John discussed this with me right at the beginning to make sure I had no issues with it.  At the time, I had no idea of the ramifications...but I soon found out. 

The actual dam structure is the most vital piece of engineering.  After the site is prepared and a core is cut, John wants to install a construction drain.  It is a pipe that runs from just within the pond (on the water side of the dam) to a point behind the dam and down-stream.  It is placed as low as possible to allow a very minimal slope away from the dam and still exit at a point that is at grade.  The intake end is dictated by this minimal slope and exit point.  Fortunately, we have a decent grade height change downhill behind the dam, so this will allow placement of this drain at a fairly low elevation.  This allows the intake at the water side of the dam to be pretty low...a good thing!

After placement, the dam construction is begun.  Soil is removed from the immediate area in front of the dam and methodically built up, layer by layer, from one end of the dam to the other.  The goal is to create a monolithic structure with good clay soil to stop water from seeping through.  Pretty basic, yep, and pretty damn important (pardon the pun).  Once a couple of feet soil is built up across the entire width of the dam as planned, no water will get past it.  This is where the drain comes in.  Remember, we are playing the odds with Mother Nature and her ability to bring on the rain when we want it least.  The dam construction can take a few days.  John tells the story best:  "We set a construction drain for the 2 acre pond we built down the road a year ago.  We normally use 6" PVC schedule 40 pipe; we did the same for that pond.  No sooner did we set about 3/4 of the overall dam height than a freak thunderstorm blew in.  The unfinished pond filled up almost 1/2 way!  It took 2 days to completely empty the unwanted water down to the drain;  the water was shootin' out of the pipe like a firehose!"  So, there ya go...the need for a construction drain in real world terms.  It's pretty tough to run heavy equipment to complete a pond when it's already underwater. 

Anyway, he says he normally just puts a cap on the end near to the backside of the dam when the pond is complete, burying it below the frost line.  He marks or notes it's approximate location "just in case".  This is where my little brain kicks in.  By this time, I have been studying this pond stuff like my Pond-301 finals are comin'.  There can be times that drawing down a pond is either beneficial or even a necessity.  If I had to, I could dig down to the cap, cut it off, and let 'er rip.  Hmmm....but what if I only want to drain a portion?  That's right...I'm gonna need a valve.  Quite frankly, this is pretty standard engineering and by no means a Nobel prize winning epiphany on my part.  So, enter E-bay, a little good timing, and a valve that looks like it's on stereoids:

Nope, you won't find this one at your home center or Ace Hardware.  It will meet the need and hook up with the planned 6" PVC construction drain.  After being set, it will be protected with an inverted sump pit or 24" vertical pipe section with a cap and buried below the soil, well below the frost line.  Quite frankly, I hope I never need to use it...period.  But, if I do, it will be one of those "boy am I glad we put this thing in" situations.

Another significant piece of hardware for the drain pipe is something called an "anti-seep collar".  Based on Hydrology-101, it works like this...  Water will seek whatever path is readily available.  A nice consistent, straight route along the outside of a PVC pipe will do just fine....NOT.  This is where anti-seep collars come into play.  It is nothing more than a plate that is set perpendicular to the pipe to interrupt a trickle's path along the pipe.  Sort of a piece of flashing for a drain pipe.  For my project, a 48" square collar is recommended; the pipe goes right through the center and is sealed where the two meet.  The cheapest (and quite effective) type of collar is a 48" square piece of neoprene that you cut a hole thru the center slightly smaller than the pipe O.D. and push the pipe thru.  John hates 'em.  They are are unwieldy and difficult to stabilize while trying to set this entire drain system.  Yes, they usually have a thin wooden frame around the outside to help stabilize their "floppiness", but they are a pain.  So, I go huntin' on the internet and came up with an upgrade.  When I show John the website pic and explain it's construction, he looks up at me with a relieved and wide-eyed look on his face and says "that's gonna make a BIG, are we gonna save time if you go with that thing".  I did.


They are a 1/4" thick x 48" square plate of PVC with a 6" PVC pipe fitting through the center.  The fitting is male one side, female the other.  It is securely caulked and stainless steel bolted to the PVC plate.  They cost about $125 more each than the floppy neoprene, but I expect them to be money well spent, likely paying for themselves in time saved during installation and subsequent performance. the valve, got the anti-seep collars, but what about the pipe that connects the whole shootin' match?  Enter the next "whodathunk" contestant; a load of 6" PVC pipe.  It's not so much the actual purchase of the pipe as much as the vendor source...E-bay.  Ever since the valve became a reality as a result of E-bay searches, I had to keep the pipe on the same radar screen.  Lo and behold, about 800 feet hits the auction and the source is in the midwest (pick-up only...go figger).  Nope, I shouldn't need much more than half of it, but the sale was for the entire lot and the total cost calculates to a very good deal for the Liberty project.  Jeesh, the trailer is really gettin' a work-out....witness 2900# of PVC pipe.

.....never dreamed I would get this tire(d) I look into my rear-view mirror and all I can do is bust out laughing.  What in the heck am I doing?  I have a precious load of huge old tires, and they're ALL MINE.  Yep, and I went outta my way to get 'em.  Beauties, eh?  Well, stupid as it seems, these are going to help create critical fish structure somewhere in the depths of the pond.  Don't laugh...there's a second load just like it.  It gets better.  Not only am I going to place them at the bottom of the pond, but they get stacked and arranged in a particular way to most benefit the fish.  Jeeessh...the things I go through for a buncha fish!  (for the record, that monster in the front of the trailer weighs so much that I couldn't even lean it up to roll it....skooch and dump; it can wait for the backhoe to arrive)

....Very cool!

Our county U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation agent went out to Liberty and marked a bunch of waypoints with his GPS and loaded 'em into a mapping program.  He marked waypoints on the driveway, the proposed pond waterline perimeter, the dam, the clearing behind the dam, and a few property corner markers.  He was able to use the property corner markers to spot his findings on an aerial photo of Liberty and give us our first "bird's eye" look into the near future.


UH, OH...better get this guy away from E-bay

Seeing as we are gonna have all the heavy equipment back this Summer 2006 for a pond-building party, this would be a very good time to knock out the various little peripheral earth-moving type projects.  When these guys are done this fall and their tail lights disappear over the horizon, it will be a relief to know that they won't be back before we are ready to break ground for the final phase; a small house or cabin.  I need time to plug the holes in my wallet.

Knowing this and trying...TRYING to anticipate as much as possible, it occurs to me that I better have the electric company Guru back out to see what we did with the driveway.  Why?  Well, the electric is going to run right along side of the 2000 ft driveway we laid out last Fall, most of which was cut into fairly thick timber (see aerial shot above).  There are a couple of areas that I just could not bring myself to remove a nice, mature tree even though it was very close to the drive.  These decisions were based on wishful thinking and the hope that maybe they could trench around the other side and return to the driveway further down  (I soon discovered the folly of this thinking).  So, I call Phil from the electric co-op and he kindly returns to inspect the new driveway product.  Yep, about 8 trees really need to come out, a couple of 'em will be heartbreaking.  You do whatcha gotta do.  He also notes that because of the direct proximity of the trench to the mega-tons of rock that I brought in, he highly recommends (a nice way of dictating reality to me) that we use 2" PVC conduit thru the woods.  He warns that it only takes one sharp rock to fall into the trench and over the years it may compromise the conductor insulator sheathing.  The 600' of meadow at the entrance will not be an issue and conduit will not be required; they can steer the trench further away from the driveway rock.  Where we go thru the woods, tho, they are gonna be pinched up close to the driveway...this entire stretch will need the conduit protection.  

The electric co-op allows the property owner to supply the PVC.  He tells me what their going rate is for the raw material.  Then I check the Home Depot, Lowes, and Menards.  Hmmm....what are the chances there might be something on E-bay?  Jeeesh...figgers...there it is!  Exactly what we need, in the correct quantity, within reasonable driving distance, and the price is right!  A few clicks later and it's time to hook up the trailer again; 1600 feet of 2" x 20' PVC belled-end conduit.


Since it may be a couple of years before installation, I am now very pleased with our decision to build a substantial 2-story garage.  Rest well, my new-found plastic friends.





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