We spend a lot of time in the spring summer and fall each year maintaining and improving our forest, wildlife habitat and recreational access to our property. It's actually more fun for us (at least for now), and definitely more physically demanding, than just about any hiking or other recreational activity we could do.
Due to some poor logging jobs done about 30-40 years ago and terrible land management over the past 80 years, there's always improvements to be made on our property. Clearing brush, thinning trees to remove disease and select for the best genetics is always on the agenda. During this process, we discovered a natural depression in the landscape about 50 yards to the north of our boondocking spot. It is a perfect spot to build an entrapment pond.
It took about six months (over two summer seasons) of part-time work to clean up the area by hand and go from this:
To get to this:
It wasn't all just hand work. We also made a new 52 HP addition to the family this year.
But we had gotten as far as physical labor and a 52 HP tractor could take us, so we called in the heavy equipment to finish the job. After one day of digging we finally had something that was starting to look like a pond.
We even dug into some seeping groundwater veins. Surprising, considering what a relatively dry site we have.
After laying down 27,000 pounds of sodium bentonite clay, it was time to roto-till it into the soil to create the liner.
Of course, all of this work, the hardest parts of the project, ended up being done on the hottest, smokiest days of the Summer. But after we were done, the first little bit of rain we'd seen since April came down and started filling the pond...and the liner held.
As it fills, the pond looks like it wants to have the emerald green color characteristic of the lakes in this part of Idaho. Since we're only putting rainwater and filtered well water into the pond, it's still crystal clear. The aerator can still be seen down in about five feet of water.
We actually won't know if the liner is holding until we come back from our Winter travels next March. It can take several wet seasons for a bentonite clay liner to develop and hold water on a permanent basis. We've added an additional 15,000 ponds of bentonite in certain sections to improve the liner further. We're counting on the snow and rain of Winter/Spring to do the heavy lifting and get us closer to full and the potential depth of 15'. We're ready for a five month travelling break from this work!