Mary Ann Cunningham spends her mornings feeding the ducks that make their home at the Bedford Boys Ranch park.
The ducks usually take up residency in the Boys Ranch lake, but most of them have moved to nearby creeks while the lake is dredged as part of a makeover of the popular park.
I love my wildlife and love my ducks. You’ve got to go through renovation to make things better.
Mary Ann Cunningham, who hands out fliers about the dredging project at Bedford Boys Ranch park
“I love my wildlife and love my ducks,” said Cunningham, who, along with neighbor Karen Killian, hands out fliers at the lake that explain the dredging project. “You’ve got to go through renovation to make things better.”
Other wildlife needed a little help, so city workers and the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife staff have been moving turtles and bass to safer locations.
In the past few days, as the water has receded, city workers have rescued and relocated more than 60 turtles, including two alligator snapping turtles that were moved to Lake Grapevine, according to Bedford’s website.
The lake is being dredged as part of the first phase of the Boys Ranch park makeover. Funds came from a $3.2 million bond package approved by voters in 2013 and a $100,000 grant from Parks and Wildlife.
Eric Valdez, Bedford’s community services manager, said that in mid-August, before the dredging began, Parks and Wildlife employees moved some turtles and about 75 bass to Lake Worth.
Since then, employees from various city departments, including parks, animal control and the police, have come to the lake several times a day to help wildlife find their way to water. Valdez said workers are encouraging the ducks to move to a nearby creek channel by placing water buckets along the shore heading in the direction of the creek.
Plans to “reshape” the lake call for deepening it and removing an island and replacing it with a fountain to improve water flow so more oxygen is available for wildlife. City officials said the island prevented proper water flow, causing buildups of silt, trash and animal waste.
Valdez said that the work could be finished by the end of November and that the state wildlife department wants to create a research area at the lake to study fish habitats.
The lake will be restocked with 800 bass, Valdez said.
Rafe Brock, a fisheries biologist for the Parks and Wildlife Department’s Dallas-Fort Worth district, said that whenever work is done on a public waterway, there is a permitting system for moving wildlife. “The city was on top of things from the very beginning,” he said.
The city didn’t have that many fish to move, and Lake Worth was about a 15-minute drive from the park.
Brock said that once the habitat is complete, the lake will be “100 percent better.”
The habitat for the fish will have rocks, pea gravel and aquatic plants.
Killian, who also lives near the lake, said she will keep handing out fliers so people know about the work and the wildlife relocation.
“I’ve lived with the wildlife for 20 years, and it can and will adapt,” Killian said. “They will be back.”