Ditch Digging

Prior to this morning, my volunteer activities with the Carson Nature Center, at South Platte Park, had consisted of participation in waterfowl counts.  Then, noting a volunteer project day on the Center's calendar (the nature of which had yet to be determined), I signed up.

As it turned out, our group was assigned to clear a drainage channel between the Nevada Ditch and Cooley Lake, along the west edge of the South Platte River floodplain; silt and extensive stands of cattails had begun to impair flow though the channel.  Armed with shovels, hoes and limb pruners, we worked for almost three hours to clear a swath less than fifty yards long.

Such projects, relying on manual labor rather than motorized tractors or trenchers, gives one an immediate (and lasting) appreciation for the achievements of the farmers, ranchers and laborers that first settled the American West.  On the other hand, throughout this morning's work, one could not help but wonder how long the fruit of our labor would remain effective; given the earth-moving capacity of flash floods and the prolific nature of cattails, the channel will surely re-clog in the near future.  In the end, man's determined efforts to control the forces of nature prove to be futile.