Ascension : Dampierís Drip Restoration
Submitted by The Islander (Raymond Ellick) 02.11.2006 (Article Archived on 16.11.2006)
Anyone visiting Dampierís Drip recently will have noticed the changes that are taking place.
By Pete Ellis
Anyone visiting Dampierís Drip recently will have noticed the changes that are taking place. This work follows a chat some weeks ago with Elizabeth Hill (Heritage Society Chairperson), where I expressed an interest in starting a project with the aim of recognising the works carried out on the Island by the Corps of Royal Engineers. Immediate thoughts at the time were renovation of the wind pump at Breakneck Valley designed by Lt HR Brandreth RE an individual later discovered to have played a pivotal role in the development of Ascension Island into what it is today. Elizabeth mentioned trees at Dampierís Drip that had fallen across the water storage tank built to Brandrethís design but for some strange reason given the name Bateís Tank after Captain Bate the Commander at the time. A site visit confirmed that trees and other vegetation were causing serious damage to the tank and other parts of the structure and there was a risk that the historic site would be lost forever. Following discussion with the Historic Society and Conservation Office the Dampierís Drip Restoration Project had started.
The first task was to clear the access road of the dreaded Mexican Thorn to allow passage of vehicles to the site. Darren Hart quickly came up with the Dampierís Project tag roped in a team of volunteers to start the following Saturday. Having obtained a supply of hand tools the first stage of the project got underway. This hot and laborious task involved cutting away the dreaded Mexican Thorn that had claimed back parts of the track making it impassable. After numerous cuts and scratches visible progress was made along the track extending from the Two Boats site.
This access road was key to the success of the whole project itself and the quicker it was cleared the quicker efforts could be directed onto water catchment. By chance a Military Plant Forman (MPF)was due to visit the Island. The timely intervention of WO2 ďMartyĒ Hales RE, not only established links between the project and the Royal Engineers but also provided a means to speed up the access road task using a piece of core plant that badly needed the exercise.
With the digger song ringing in his ears Marty was quickly able to level the track to allow the passage of 4x4 vehicles something that has not been possible for awhile. Marty was also able to provide engineering advice on the future works needed.
The next stage was to make a start on clearing vegetation covering the structures associated areas. The volunteers were on hand to make a start on the task happily launching cut back vegetation into the void that forms the catchment valley mush to the alarm of the sheep and land crabs who had set up home in this area.
Mechanical assistance was needed to move things forward and this was kindly provided by Stedson and Nathan from AIG Conservation Department who arrived on site with chainsawís following successfully gaining their chainsaw tickets. Armed with this new lumberjack qualification Stedson made short work of the mini forest whose roots were eating into the structure leaving a enormous heap of fallen trees and branches in his wake.
Nathan was on hand to pile this wood ready for disposal (Johnny its there for the taking for Nov 5th). As a back up discussion have taken place with AIG Fire & Rescue about a controlled burn on-site should other disposal methods become fruitless. Such a pity that no one on the Island possesses a tractor based shredder so the nutrients can be put back into the soil that in this area is already rich and growth promoting.
So whatís the next stage and final outcome. Dampierís Drip is part of the Islandís Heritage and as such should be preserved for future generations. For this reason it is classed as a Community Project requiring input from all parties including you. There is still work needed to clear away vegetation and fell yet more tress particularly several Eucalyptus trees above the tank causing in danger of falling. It is intended that the hardwood recovered from these trees will be used to construct seating and tables for the site, we need a good joiners to carry out this task, any offers? Mechanical assistance is still needed to clear away tonnes of soil that has accumulated in the tank itself and around the area. With several JCBís and other associated plant on the island surely one of the major organisations or all for that matter can provide a machine and operator to move the project forward?
Photographs and mapping of the site are needed before we wade in with picks and spades, this is particular important as the site is already producing unusual finds. And finally we need to decide how the finished project will look, perhaps the School could take up this challenge and produce a drawing that will incorporate nature paths, seating areas, the tanks and the caves.
A target completion date of Nov 2007 has been set. To meet this deadline your help is vital. It is planned to celebrate this effort with a concert involving local bands so a generator is needed, does anyone have such a thing tucked away that could be donated to the project for permanent mounting and used to power instruments and illuminate the area with spotlights etc.
Offers of assistance or questions should be directed to me (Pete) on extension Ext 3350/6324 or Darren Ext 3372.