Marin and Sonoma counties are known for their breathtaking vistas of the California coastline and rolling hills of the beautiful northern California wine country. This landscape also proves challenging for the staff of the Marin/Sonoma Mosquito and Vector Control District (MSMVCD). Tucked into the 2,300 square miles of the district’s borders are over 20,000 known sources of mosquito production. Imagine the task of having to assess and manage mosquitoes in habitats such as marshes, seasonal wetlands, flood plains, and other rugged or ecologically complex environments. These areas are inaccessible to standard trucks.
While many agencies with similar habitats have utilized amphibious vehicles known as Argos, and four-wheeled all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), the creative maintenance shop staff at MSMVCD have found a way to modify these vehicles and improve efficiency, reduce staff and material costs, and minimize potential impacts to aquatic and terrestrial habitats.
In the past, MSMVCD staff used a fixed seat and turret in the rear portion of an Argo body to apply granular larvicides in large seasonal and tidal wetland habitats. This method required two staff members, which put extra weight in the rear of the Argo, resulting in additional strain on the machine. Shop technicians fabricated aluminum platforms that fit within the rear portion of an Argo body, modified Maruyama backpack granular units, and employed the use of Herd seeders to achieve a 50 foot swath when applying granular larvicides with Argo ATVs.
In field trials, these units have worked very well and fulfilled their intended purposes. With the new, more efficient system, only one staff member is needed to operate the Argo and control the Maruyama backpack granular unit and Herd seeder setup. This reduced the stress on the Argo, minimizing the need for maintenance and reducing Argo travel in wetland habitats.
In another project, staff installed extra-wide turf tires on ATV bikes to minimize disturbance when performing mosquito control in ecologically sensitive habitats such as vernal pool sites.
Staff must often apply materials on large agricultural sites that feature many irrigation ditches. To save time and increase efficiency maintenance shop staff constructed an ATV trailer from scrap materials, installed a liquid tank and pump system to allow staff haul larger amounts of liquid larvicides (see illustration).
So far, these newly modified vehicles have successfully treated 234.5 acres of seasonal wetlands and brackish water marshes. For more information, contact MSMVCD staff at (707) 285-2200.
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