West Cut Pond on Baird Hill

Since 1998, I have looked at a beautiful stock pond along the West Cut of Baird Hill, on Interstate 20, near Baird, Texas, as I have driven to work in Abilene from Mingus, Texas.

The pond has deteriorated in health.  It was a pond that had rushes of cattails, deep-green sturdy stalks, three to four feet high, lining the pond all the way around except for a few places where cattle could water or a tree had fallen.  Ducks would fly in at the first cold snap in October and not leave until February or March.

The pond is set among hills on three sides, a spring-fed creek empties into the pond.  The interstate highway at the West Cut blockades the downstream portion of the pond, creating a kind of highway dam.

Last year and the year before, power poles with transmission lines as big as your arm were erected above the pond and on the hills to the north of the interstate in order to carry electricity from wind farms on the north and east side of Abilene.

When the transmission lines were nearly constructed, all the the green rushes along the pond died.

The pond lost water and is down about a foot or two.  At first, I speculated that the reeds had died as the result of some natural cycle, but that was not correct.  The rushes died because of contaminants from the transmission line construction, road construction for the power lines, the wind farm construction, or a combination of all three factors.  I did not take a water sample.  Not my land.  But, the owner of the ranch was just as surprised as I was about the change in the pond.  The reeds have not reproduced.

So, we have more electricity that is suppose to be clean.  It is.  But, in the method of setting up clean energy, nature is destroyed.  The pond is dying.

I will continue to observe the pond and will take photographs from the highway.  Hopefully, nature will resurge again along the banks of the pond.  And, I wonder if the ducks will stay long?  Will they even stop?



July 25, 2010, update: The pond has remained unchanged.  The color of the water has deepened to a blue-green and is not brown or brackish any longer.  The reeds still have not replenished.  I will attempt to take some photographs from the interstate for the record.  To connect the transmission line construction and the death of the pond is correlative.  I may be completely wrong in my hypothesis about cause and effect.  More proof is needed.


Filed under Ducks

7 responses to “West Cut Pond on Baird Hill

  1. This is sad to hear on multiple counts…the death of the pond, of course, being the first…but to have the process of trying to find power in a more sane fashion take a toll like that is a heartbreak of its own, to my mind. I would hate to think that others will perceive the use of wind power as a bad thing as the result of the obvious carelessness and thoughtless actions of the contractor. A very sad report, indeed.

    • I guess it’s one of those side effects unintended. Wind farms stop the burning of so much coal. Wind power is not a bad thing at all. I agree. An environmental impact study was conducted, but this pond seems to have been forgotten. As I wrote, I need to get more information, more proof. Maybe the story will have a happier ending. It certainly makes sense (and made sense) to construct wind farms.

      Take care, Martie, out there in California.

  2. It seems that whenever something is introduced that is not part of the natural habitat, the living things there respond. Living things respond to whatever is in their environment, be it harmonious natural cycles of native plants or something more man-made that, despite it’s positive effect for the long haul, might temporarily at least, have a deleterious effect and create a setback. I don’t know the answer, but it would be nice if construction was always as careful about it’s surroundings as they are required to be in Native American building sites. Nature is a “sacred site,” too.

    • I do hope I see recovery at the pond increase. It has started. There’s not a word in your comment that I disagree with. I hope the setback is temporary. Thanks, Teresa, for your comment.

  3. Your observations inform heavily on my contention that environmentally conscious alternative living is far more complex than simply getting past coal, petroleum, and other such energy sources in favor of “green” wind and/or sun power. In ANY new endeavor, we ought to be asking ourselves what the unintended consequences might be. All paths will have pitfalls and negative effects. Which do we choose?

    How do we move forward without destroying remaining natural habitat? Is it even possible to do so? Is it even desirable?

    • Brian: Yes, ANY new endeavor has the unintended effects. Well written. You raise fundamental questions. I would hope more extensive studies can be done before we launch new technology in an area like West Cut on Baird Hill. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Pingback: Yucca Meditation (Parachuting Cats) « Sage to Meadow

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