Soda Lake Wetland Renovation public meeting April 24
by Wyoming Game & Fish
April 12, 2019
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department will hold a public meeting to discuss potential renovations to existing wetlands at the Soda Lake Wildlife Habitat Management Area five miles north of Pinedale. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 24, from 6-8 pm at the Game and Fish office in Pinedale.
Wetlands are the most productive and biologically diverse habitat type found in Wyoming. The Game and Fish, in partnership with Ducks Unlimited, is considering a plan to restore an existing wetland complex that has lost most of its open water habitat and become largely non-functioning for waterfowl and other wildlife that depend on wetland habitat.
The wetlands were first created in 1988 as an enhancement of naturally-existing wetlands. The additional open water created served as valuable habitat to a great variety of waterfowl and shorebirds and provided quality waterfowl hunting opportunities for several years. However, over time, the water impoundment structures degraded, silt filled in existing ponds and the ability to manage and maintain the wetlands to their full potential for wildlife has been lost.
A wetlands restoration plan primarily developed by Ducks Unlimited, with input from local Game and Fish managers, is being considered and will be presented to the public for their input. The current plan would restore and create a series of six ponds, each with its own water control structure. An associated water management plan would allow for better water control and flexibility. Some ponds would provide breeding and stop-over habitat, while other ponds would be periodically drained, allowing for vegetation to grow up and then be flooded again, providing and abundance of feed for waterfowl and other wildlife. It is also planned to include a renovated viewing blind and interpretive nature trail to compliment the area. The restored wetland complex would again be available for waterfowl hunting in the fall.
The water source for the series of ponds is a small spring creek that ultimately also provides water to nearby Soda Lake. Gretchen Hurley, an independent hydrologist based out of Cody, Wyoming, has been contracted to determine what overall effect the wetland restoration project might have on water (both surface and sub-surface) in the area, and specifically on Soda Lake. Hurley’s investigations found that there would not be detrimental effects to water levels in Soda Lake or the associated water table in the vicinity. Local Game and Fish habitat area managers and fish biologists, along with Ducks Unlimited biologists and Hydrologist Gretchen Hurley all will be on hand to present their findings at the meeting. Ducks Unlimited and Game and Fish are seeking to raise funds for the project.