One of the jewels of the area

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Your humble columnist, a long-time local area resident, is enjoying the kerfuffle over the management of Barnett Park. That park along our Republican River is one of the jewels of this area. I enjoy watching the myriad Canada geese, the largest goose in the world, that spend their days there. Haughty eyed they stare back at us human visitors from black heads with distinctive white chinstrap. Almost regal. Evidently, most of our gaggle live in the park and feed in agriculture fields nearby. Then too, some of their more wild brethren stop by to visit on their migration north to brood and when coming back south. Somehow a few of the locals show domestic heritage.

Evidently, we have too much of a good thing according to “experts” that have descended on the City Council to offer opinions. Democracy at work, a good thing. Too much goose doo in the shallow lakes of the park causes an algae bloom that deprive the fish of oxygen. Fish die off, unattractive, like what happened last summer. Seldom mentioned though is that geese are grazing animals and synergistically keep the grassy knolls around the ponds nicely mowed and fertilized.

This old guy would also like to offer an “expert” opinion. Simple. Just declare an open season on the local geese. Sportsmen hunters would be glad to help out and besides that geese are good to eat. Problem solved.

I note that some “expert” has decided that the fountains installed in the two ponds are part of the problem and have been shut down. Beautiful fountains spraying water high in the air to oxygenate it. Lighted at night. A really nice touch. One stated reason for shutting down the fountains was because they stirred up sediment from the bottom and somehow that fouled the water. Why suck water off the bottom? Raise the intake into the clear water just below the surface would make sense.

Several years ago at Lake McConaughy it was noted that when water was let out of the dam, generating electricity, there were very few fish in the waters below. The inlets for the water to run the generators was drawn deep in the lake down where the water was cold and its oxygen content low. By modifying the tail race below the generators to shoot the water up into the air, forming a gigantic fountain, the water then became greatly oxygenated. Fish numbers below the dam dramatically improved and it is now a preferred fishery for many sportsmen in the area. Hmmm, spray the water up in the air and it naturally oxygenates plus cools in summer to boot. Of course, it wouldn’t work in Barnett Park.

Experts or no the City is to be complimented on making Barnett Park a pleasant place. Years back when this old guy was in High School that spot was the city dump. It was then a good place to shoot rats and not very ecstatically pleasant. The trash is all buried now and it has become a good place walk or just enjoy the outdoors. I’ve encountered persons bird watching and cheerfully reporting that “I spotted a red-headed woodpecker” or a number or other species, all free for the watching. The many walking trails are safe and interesting to explore. Children clamber over the ex-National Guard tank on static display. No matter the time of day families, moms with young ‘uns, park along the roads to watch their children at play. Many people sit in their cars to watch the geese and even enjoy feeding them. Surely that isn’t illegal? Shelter houses draw family gatherings. I can’t remember when I have been the only person in the park. I haven’t tried the fishing but seldom is there a time when two, four or more anglers are sitting on the banks watching a bobber in the water. The place is a jewel.

The bit about shutting down the fountains in the park reminds me of when I was serving on the City Council. The residents living across the street from the college were not served by the city sewer system and it was becoming a problem. The Council okayed an initiative by city management to create a sewer district and hook those residents to the city sewer system. All well and good. This old farmer who for years had irrigated crops and had some idea of how water ran suggested that it would be a simple fix to route the new sewer line down into the canyon that is now Kelly Park as there is a sewer mainline that runs the length of that canyon. I was convinced that “stuff” runs downhill. I lost.

The engineering solution was to run the line to a new, to be constructed, small pump station. Then pump the effluent uphill to empty into an existing medium sized sewer mainline. Unstated was the extra expense required for that project or future inevitable problems with the sewage pump station all advantages to sustaining the bureaucracy. Never mind the extra expense for the taxpayer. I lost but still think “stuff“ runs downhill.

That is how I saw it.

Dick Trail

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  • Good column, bro. I appreciate your common-sense real world observations. I am reminded o f one of my favorite aphorisms: KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid), otherwise known as Occam's Razor. Phoenix perceives a problem here with Canada geese grazing on their precious golf greens, a problem which I regard as "goes around, comes around."

    -- Posted by Virginia B Trail on Tue, Apr 4, 2017, at 10:48 AM
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