‘The Best Laid Plans…’: Army Corps of Engineers Truck Becomes Stuck in the Mud of Lake Mendocino

The Army Corps of Engineers truck semi-submerged in mud after becoming stuck in the lakebed of Lake Mendocino [Picture provided by Mike McKay]

Poppy Lozoff, the Operations Project Manager for the Coyote Valley Dam and Lake Mendocino Army Corps of Engineers, told us September 25 was an important holiday for her team–National Public Lands Day. On that day, Lozoff explained, citizens and stewards alike are tasked with recognizing “the importance of public lands through community-based, environmentally friendly projects.”

The drought’s exposure of Lake Mendocino’s bottom was seen as an opportunity to remove debris from the exposed bed. Lozoff said a staff member devised a plan to clear the lakebed of trash. Though successful in their efforts to remove refuse, as Lozoff put it, the “truck was not the right tool for the job” and it became stuck in the deep mud hidden underneath the lakebed’s cracked surface.

Refuse retrieved from the exposed bottom of Lake Mendocino by the Army Corps of Engineers staff member before becoming stuck [Picture provided by Poppy Lozoff]

Lozoff said the conditions of the lakebed proved “different than projected.” The partially submerged truck was freed after a group effort of “laborious hours of shoveling and the help of a winch from a support truck.”

The initial plans to retrieve refuse emphasized minimizing the impact on the lakebed. But, as Robert Burns said in his poem “To a Mouse”, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley [go often astray].”

Lozoff described her staff as “dedicated” people who “truly want to make Lake Mendocino a place the community enjoys and respects.” She emphasized the importance of acknowledging that “lessons were learned and there is room to grow from this incident.”

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