Liberty Nature Preserve




The building site is built up upon the natural slope of the south-eastern end of the pond basin.  It's size, location, and shape evolved after considering and planning the various engineering options related to the big dig.  One basic excavation fundamental underlies all decisions:  the shorter the distance moving dirt, the more economical.  As we walked the basin numerous times and considered how and where to waste soil to create and deepen the pondsite, John offered the next basic excavation practice to consider.  Any place that we can remove some of the timber that surrounds the entire site becomes a place where soil can be pushed up to.  On our project, the area we have selected to clear for a building site is a decent natural slope downward to the pond basin.  We waited until after the pondsite was cleared and the leaves are off the trees so we can methodically walk the entire area of the proposed building site.  This allows Donna and I to visualize and mind-engineer the commitments we will soon make to construct the most important by-product of the project; the building site.  We shot a bunch of elevations with the laser and pulled a bunch of measurements on the ground.  The next weekend, we staked it out, took pictures and drew sketches of our homesite draft #1.  We studied them through the week, and returned the next weekend to adjust (this means we made it bigger).  The final plan is sketched out below.

The curve is the existing tree-line after clearing for the pond basin.  It is just above normal pool, creating the future shoreline.  The dotted lines are the targets for the top/perimeter of the building site after building it up with soil waste from the pond basin.  The distance between the wide points at the shoreline is 225 ft.  The distance front to back is 180 ft.  The natural elevation drops nearly 16 ft from the back/left corner to the front of the proposed peninsula.  We mark the perimeter of the site and discuss the details of the plan with our dirt-guy.  John approves noting that we can waste alot of soil into this zone.  I have done rough estimates of the yardage required to build this site up.  If the final, built-up building site is perfectly flat across the top about 5000 cubic yards of soil will have been deposited (ref; a block 52 ft wide, 52 ft deep, 50 ft tall contains 5000 cu yds...or...removing 3 ft from one acre = 5000 cu yds).  Considering practical construction and excavation technique, the top will ultimately be sloped for proper drainage.  John analyzes the surrounding topography.  He paints a mental picture of how our building site will best blend in, noting proper drainage and other various relationships to the topography (this is the vision that I am still learning).  We do our standard "give and take", ultimately arriving at the final plan.  The top will be somewhat flat and the slope will occur from back to front.  I anticipated a little more "hill effect" across the width of the site, but during the days of building up this zone it became apparrent that bringing more soil to the building site would only create a deeper hole in our bank account.  The final product is rewarding. overcast day, but a decent frontal shot looking up to the building site from within the pond basin.  This pic is taken a few weeks after excavation is complete.  Watch your step, we're already takin' on water!  The launch road terminates at the concrete boat launch and pier/deck structure that is right of frame.  The tires and PVC trees are set for fish structure to the left.  Ol' reliable sets parked on the newly formed building site pad.


A look across the boat launch and pier to the building site pad beyond.  The pond basin in front of the building site pad (left of frame) dropped an average of 2 - 3 feet in depth after removing soil and depositing it in the building site.  This was performed by both the dozer and the earth-mover.  The dozer worked the front edge of the site nearest the pond while the e-mover ran circuits filling in from the rear of the site.


We are standing on the front edge of the man-made peninsula during construction.  The dam is about 700 feet away in the distance.  Donna stands between 2 substantial holes that have been dug, lending perspective to their size.  They are pretty deep, reaching down 20 ft when the water level arrives at normal pool.  They weren't part of the original plan, evolving from need during construction of the building pad.  We become aware of their existance during one of my many evening update calls to John during the week.  This particular night, as we discuss progress he adds "oh yeah, we had to dig a couple of holes in front of the building site".  "How big?" I ask.  He pauses, then replies "oh, they're pretty big".  The explanation ensues.  Most of the building site has been built up to finished dimension.  It is comprised of a mix of clay and topsoil, compacted by every pass of the loaded earth-mover and dozer.  The front slope of this newly constructed mass of dirt will be the pondsite bottom, exposed to water when she fills.  He wants to make sure that there is little to no seepage of the water into this new mass of dirt so he wants to pack the front slope with 2 - 3 feet of good clay.  This will create a "pool-liner" of sorts across the entire building site face.  He reminds me that the most economical method of moving dirt is executed by minimizing the distance it had to be hauled.  Naturally, this practice interests me.  He also reminds me about last year when we first broke through the woods and entered the pondsite basin.........

We briefly reflect on my nerve-wracking moments when he took the first soil samples to verify if the clay we wanted truly existed within the site (without which a pond would be should be duly noted, though, that I had already done alot of geological homework and held high confidence that it was there).  Anyway, the first test hole was coincidentally dug right in the area that would eventually be right in front of the building site.


He cut thru about 8 feet of topsoil before we hit gold.  And man, was it ever gold..."blue" gold.  Hundreds of years of erosion from the surrounding acres had deposited a 7 - 8 foot thick layer of topsoil within this depression that we selected as a perfect pondsite.  Below this layer lay a thick band of blue clay; the best stuff we could hope for in pond construction.  My research indicated that this band would run approx 30 feet deep in some form of blue, yellow, or brown clay, all suitable for our plans.  This all proved out to be accurate research and rewarded us in the end with a successful project. 

Anyway, John weighs out the options.  He can go to the other end of the pondsite, near the dam, where the topsoil layer is completely removed and hauled to fill in behind the dam.  He can extract the exposed clay from there and haul it all the way back to the building site with the earth-mover.....or.....he can dig down to the excellent blue clay waiting right next to the building site work-zone.  To him the decision is easy.  He digs 2 monster holes and starts pulling out the blue clay with the backhoe, depositing it one bucketful at a time across the the entire face of the built-up building site pad.  The dozer works it in, packing a thick clay liner.  He asks me if I want him to do anything with the new fill 'em in.  I tell him to give me a night to think about it, reaching out to some of my knowledgeable fish-nut friends to ask their opinion.  The response was a resounding "NO...they are gonna be perfect bottomscaping....what a great idea"!

The holes stay.  In fact, based on more bottomscaping advice, we cut a ditch leading up to them from within the pond basin.  The dirt from cutting the ditch is piled up as a hump between them, further enhancing the future aquatic environment we seek.

  A couple months later of good soaking rains and the holes are filled with water.  In fact, the entire basin begins the long journey to becoming a pond.

Standing on the knoll (see other yellow zone on aerial view at the top of the page), just behind the sand beach and looking back toward the building site.  The dam is outside the picture to the right.

Here we stand on the front and center of the man-made peninsula.  It's been 3 months since we closed the drain valve and started backing up the water.  Bring on da juice!












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