Collier's Reserve Natural Resources Group
"On Hiers' Pond"
By Jane Cooper
As the poem goes, "...only God can make a tree."
So how is it that Tim Hiers, Collier's Reserve golf course manager, can make a pond, a truly viable pond, over on the 13th hole? One that will be filled with largemouth bass and frogs, visited by wading and diving birds and rambling bobcats? What process of transformation will lift it from a hole in the ground to a living, healthy ecosystem?
"Well," Hiers says, "it all depends on the design." Hiers and his crews have set in place the basic elements needed for nature to move in, almost like putting out the welcome mat. By year's end, and with a little help from nature, we should see dramatic results.
For starters, the depth of a pond determines just how much algae will form in it--the greater the depth, the darker the water and the less algae. Our new pond is 12 feet deep in the center (the maximum permitted under county regulation), dark enough to prevent algae growth and thereby provide for clean, clear water that will keep fish alive. And fish are the essential ingredient.
There's lots of homework built into a project like this. Hiers has consulted with Jim Howard, a PhD specialist in amphibians at Frostburg State University in Maryland, and with Audubon International CEO Ron Dodson about the birdlife, and has delved into his own considerable knowledge of local plants.
But where does the water come from? I wanted to know. And the fish--will the pond be "stocked" with fish?
Okay, water first. It's groundwater. That's right, no one came and filled the pond like you would your swimming pool. It just seeped in from the water table below and fell as rain. "The contractor dug a test hole," Hiers said, "and we got a certain level of water in the hole. Then it rained and within a week we had four more feet of water in it, so we knew we were going to be all right." And yes, this pond is part of a chain of several ponds, so water can flow from one into another as needed. In fact, Hiers estimates that the new pond will hold nearly 4.3 million gallons of water!
No one brought the fish in either. Those connecting pipelines will play a major role in bringing fish to the new pond, but they will also arrive as fish eggs, stuck to the legs of the wading birds making their way from pond to pond--rather like honeybees pollinate flowers. The frogs? Hiers isn't sure how that happens--they just seem to appear when the setting is right. Mother nature needs to keep a few secrets, after all.
But the first morning you see a wading bird poking around, or the first night you hear a bullfrog croaking out there, or if you catch sight of a fox or a raccoon having a drink some quiet afternoon, you'll know we not only have a beautiful new pond to enhance our community and catch our errant golf balls but also a vibrant home for wildlife at Collier's Reserve.