Range Tracking

PINWR Helicopter Ops

Back when I was a volunteer at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge (PINWR) I was fortunate to be invited to watch the expansion of Pelican Island via use of a helicopter flying bucket loads of dirt out to the island. Pelican Island has always been small, roughly 5.5 acres when it first became a bird sanctuary back in 1903. And after years of erosion, most likely caused by a hundred years of boat wakes gnawing at the shoreline, the island dwindled down to a little over 2 acres. This operation back in January of 2006 successfully expanded the size of Pelican Island assisted by the subsequent placement of native plants to stabilize and grow the island a bit over the intervening years. Plus the addition of a wave break has also helped.
The first four photos show Jungle Trail closed off to keep people from entering the Refuge, whether by U.S. Fish and Wildlife personnel as seen in the upper left photo or by the Indian River County Sheriff’s Department as seen at bottom right. At upper right, an unidentified man looks on as PINWR Assistant Manager Takako Hashimoto gives Refuge Manager Paul Tritaik a good luck hug. Both the Assistant Manager and the Refuge Manager have moved on to other things in the years since. At bottom left, waiting with Takako for the fun to begin.
The helicopter sets a bucket down near a giant dirt pile created by the excavation of fresh water ponds throughout the Refuge.
Earth movers get a load of dirt ready to put in the bucket.
A bulldozer with a load of dirt nears the bucket. The rush of wind from the hovering helicopter throws a cloud of dirt into the air .
Into the bucket the dirt goes.
The helicopter hovers overhead while waiting for the bucket to be filled.
The bucket itself seemed almost a living thing enjoying its time in the air as it was towed around by the helicopter.
The helicopter in flight with the bucket.
Don’t remember when this happened but it looks like the helicopter and its companion passed overhead. Watch for falling dirt!
Another shot of the helicopter in flight with the dirt bucket.
Some hero shots of the helicopter in action.
PINWR Manager Paul Tritaik, at left, with the unidentified man wait ready to supervise the dirt’s dispersal onto Pelican Island once the helicopter arrives.
The helicopter with the dirt bucket hanging below on a long cable dwarfs the two men in the water.
A load of dirt drops onto Pelican Island.
More dirt falls from the sky.
A dramatic dirt drop.
Watching as the bucket runs dry.
Another load, another dirt pile appears on Pelican Island.
A distant view of Pelican Island and the helicopter operations.
An even wider view showing the Indian River Lagoon and the full extent of Pelican Island under cloudy skies.

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