Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dan Click Ponds Field Trip (Near Viera Wetlands)

Click Ponds, Viera Wetlands (previous post), and River Lakes Conservation Area Moccasin Island Tract (next post) are near each other. You can visit all three in one "recon" trip if you wish.

After Charlie Corbeil and I finished our drive through the Viera Wetlands, we took a side trip to Dan "Click" Ponds (usually just called Click Ponds). These ponds are very near the entrance to the Water Reclamation Facility we told you about in the Viera Wetlands field trip report, and you'll want to include a visit to them in your trip to the Wetlands. (There are no entrance signs, but I've included detailed directions and photos in the Just the Facts section of this post.)
Like the Viera Wetlands, the Click Ponds are a part of the South Central Regional Wastewater System, and likewise serve as home to lots of birds and critters. According to Charlie, they are particularly enticing to birds when the water level is drawn down. As with the Wetlands, you can drive along the berms and take photos from your car, or you can hike or bicycle.
Mostly, I was curious about the name and the history. Jim Angy told me Dan Click was a long-time local birder, so through the wonders of the Internet and the Audubon Society on-line newsletter, I found an email address for Dan and sent him an inquiry. I received a delightful, detailed response that he said I could share with you. In Dan' words: The South Central Regional wastewater system extends from west Cocoa south to Post Road. It was established in the late 1980’s and its centerpiece, the regional treatment plant, was dedicated in August 1990. At that time, the principal means of disposal of the treated effluent was irrigation of the nearby Duda sod fields. The sod watering schedule, dependent on planting cycles and weather, differed greatly from the rate of flow through the plant; this made daily and seasonal effluent storage necessary. That was the original purpose of the ponds.

As the Viera area has grown, the use of reclaimed water for irrigation within the community has replaced the original agricultural application. The function of the ponds remains storage, but the destination of the water is now lawns and landscaping, usually after passing back through the plant or the wetlands. The wetlands system was not part of the original construction; it was added about ten years later when the plant capacity was expanded.

Soon after the ponds were filled – becoming the only open water for miles around – they began to attract lots of birds, particularly migrants and wintering waterfowl. I was the project manager for the South Central regional system, working in the Brevard office of a large engineering firm. Also, as you have noted, I am an active birder. I and others prevailed on the County to allow public access to the pond site. We were successful and the site became very popular, first with the local birding community and gradually with others around the state.
With charming, self-deprecating humor, Dan says that several years ago, his birding friends starting referring to the ponds as Click Ponds, and the name stuck. After he left private engineering work, he worked for Brevard County in Parks and Recreation and then in the Utility Services Department until retiring in 2008. Dan says that sometime around Christmas of 2007, The South Central plant staff, realizing the association between me and the birders’ name for their ponds, took it upon themselves to install the sign along the entrance drive. Little did they know that for years, I have threatened bodily harm to anyone doing so!
For you birders, walkers, hikers, and bikers, Click Ponds are a "hidden jewel." For me, learning about them was an introduction to another Conservation Hero!

Just the Facts
Click Ponds

"BIG PICTURE" LOCATION: Central Brevard, Mainland, Viera
WHEN TO GO: Sunrise to sunset, seven days a week

HOW TO GET THERE: See the map and directions in the Viera Wetlands post. When you see the Road Ends sign, turn right onto the dirt road alongside the power lines. After about 50 feet, turn left onto the dirt Four Mile Road. Go another 50 feet, take the first right, and go through the gate. "Click" on the photos to enlarge (pun intended - sorry). And you thought I was kidding when I said "hidden jewel!"
WHERE TO PARK: There is no parking lot, but you can pull over on the berm.
WHAT TO WEAR: As with the Wetlands, you can take photos from the comfort of your car, but if you wish to experience nature more intimately, wear comfortable shoes and remember your sunscreen, water, and mosquito repellant.
PHYSICAL CONSTRAINTS: Since you can remain in your automobile and take pictures out the car window, there are no real physical constraints. There are no benches for sitting and no portolets.
HOW LONG TO STAY: It only takes about ten minutes to drive around the ponds, but you'll miss a lot if you don't linger and commune with nature a little.
WHAT TO DO: You can drive, walk, or bicycle. Of course, bring your camera.
TAKE MONEY? No, this is FREE!
WHERE TO EAT AFTERWARDS: See the Viera Wetlands post for recommendations.
HOW TO HELP: Don't speed, don't hog the berm road, don't annoy the wildlife, and don't litter.
A LITTLE EXTRA: Dan spoke of the nearby Duda sod field. The Duda Ranch in Brevard County is the parent property for the town of Viera.

1 comment:

  1. Now there seems to be a big new sign saying, "NO TRESSPASSING" Duda Ranch. Therefore, this morning I didn't go in.
    Can we go anyway? I was disappointed.


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