Edge of meadow with 2m riparian forest buffer then a small stream. Ponding and pooling occur along that edge's depressions.
Do nothing? Make the swampy estuary spots ponds (gradually)? (Reforest as much as possible is a given good.) These are areas that seem to want to be ponds naturally, pooling and even in some spots springing up water from a high water table in spongy silt loam field soil.
Trees and swales and water management all contribute to the health of estuaries at various scales. How would you go about regenerating ecological functions for giant field puddle spots? Integrated into reforesting a field overall over time, through various kinds or agroforestry.
It sounds like you are describing areas that want to become wetlands or already are.
The most eco sound thing to do is leave it to nature to decide what that area is going to become.
I'd let nature do her thing, but If you need to become involved physically then try to mark the edges of the pond/pooling areas, from that point you could dig out soil to create a pond or ponds.
Keep in mind though that what you do will influence what happens down stream too.
and you never know, some beaver family might wander in and do all the work for you.
R Spencer wrote: How would you go about regenerating ecological functions for giant field puddle spots?
Down the road from us is a hay field with a giant puddle after large rainstorms. This is a popular spot for water birds and others. I saw a Bald Eagle there not too long ago! I wish the field's owners would stop trying to drain this area and preserve it as a bird habitat. They could still get agricultural exemption for those acres through the Wildlife Management plan.
I guess I'm thinking, what I see as a puddle in a field probably wants to be a wetland as Bryant said, but a puddle is not a wetland as is. How to make it a wetland? Not messing with it and letting it be is a good point, ponding it in some cases might make sense, setting up riparian edges around it is probably the best go-to option if any action.
The areas of most concern to me are those puddling spots that are the most natural access lines. There are two puddling spots in particular that wouldn't be easy to avoid traveling over: both near natural obstacles, artificial (property boundary) obstacles, and long-term land cover I wouldn't want to change (forest or creek nearby). So it seems like some kind of drainage and nearby pond + improved road is the best way to go in those cases. A tangent from the original question about ponding areas in general, thinking out loud on the topic.
Puddles are sometimes referred to as "ephemeral ponds" and "vernal pools." They are important habitat for various critters, especially amphibians. On our place here we have an old quarry which becomes an ephemeral wetland during rainy periods. It supports a population of five amphibian species on land with no natural permanent water sources.
If you want to make a permanent pond, I would definitely put it somewhere else than where the puddle is. In other words, don't mess with the puddle!
If this is the only ephemeral pond for miles, I might agree with you, Tyler. But honestly, if a water feature slowed the progress of water off of my property, I would make one into a pond.
Mind you, I would take all the measurements possible of the area before I started, and I would probably ensure there were adjacent areas left to do their ephemeral thing, or I would see what other structures could possibly encourage the type of ephemeral ecology necessary. But unless we're talking about endangered or at-risk species, I think many responsible permies could do better for diversity and carrying capacity of the land than the conservation of what, in many necks of the woods, are mosquito breeding pits.
I think that if there were any areas of observable outflow from the potential or ephemeral estuary in question, one might place a square bale straw dam across it, depending on how strong the inflow is. Just keeping the water there longer may cause natural formation of a biological gley layer, which will keep the water there longer as well. Trapping sediment and nutrients, both from the stream and from off the land, are some beneficial side-effects.
I would be careful to ensure that water has ways to pass relatively unencumbered even at really low levels from the stream, and I would plant into or around the bale dam with reed bed species, and probably work riparian trees into the mix where the ground could support them. Depending on where you are, willow would be great, and if they live where you are, cottonwood tend to pump water into the air when the humidity drops. Increases in shelter and ambient humidity controls will moderate extremes and stretch out any conditions that foster ephemeral ecology.
I was trying to work straw bale chinampas into the plan somehow, but except for planting up straw bale sedimentation and water slowing dams in riparian species and maybe some human or wildlife food, I am at a loss.
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I agree both habitats are good. This helps me see there's really three different water management goals going on here:
1) facilitate access with minimal ecological harm. So for the 2 ephemeral pools in the middle of a hard-to-avoid path, I'll probably improve the path (or those patches at least) to drain the wet spots into a different area. Water bars, filling in with coarse then fine gravel, that sort of thing. Much more to learn before I do that though.
2) Select prime areas for ponds. The top of the property is the beginning of a new catchment at a road, so not a great place for a pond. The property is long pretty directly downslope with ~1% average slope. Somewhere midway through it where there are solid ephemeral ponds with convenient natural in- and out-flows, I'll probably try damming it up a little, digging it down, planting it out. Gonna take it slow at first and see what a shovel and time does before I bring in heavy equipment.
3) Dedicate and enhance areas of ephemeral ponding to become the habitat nature is tending toward. Basically 'do nothing' management, except planting some appropriate species and setting up surroundings so the areas can be left mostly undisturbed.
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