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Land Surveying In the Louisiana Marsh

Coastal Louisiana marshes include more than 956,000 acres of fresh marsh and nearly 730,000 acres of saltwater marsh, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Stan’s Airboat and Marsh Excavator Service knows that surveying hard-to-reach areas like coastal waterways and shallow swamps is impossible using classical survey launches.
 
Still, boundary surveys, engineering surveys and environmental surveys have to be done. Consider any one of these scenarios:
 
  • A survey is needed to map swamp bottoms in advance of an infrastructure improvement;
  • A logging company needs to designate an area for clearcutting, but it lies deep in a wooded area accessible only by waterways;
  • A property dispute could cost a landowner a fortune in legal expenses unless a surveyor can access a marsh area and definitively declare the neighboring property void of encroachments.
 
The Right Tools
 
The land surveyor’s tools and instruments have become more technologically complex through the years. From knotted ropes and rods used in the early days they progressed to compasses and chains, then to transits and steel tapes.
 
Theodolites and electronic distance measurement (EDM) instruments added a measure of automation to the surveying process and, today, computers and Global Positioning System (GPS) systems are needed for the job.
 
But another tool is needed when dealing with wetland areas, with their thick cypress groves and open marsh: the multipurpose amphibious vehicle that gets the surveyors there and back.
 
Unlike other amphibious vehicles that get stuck in the muck, the Hydratreks from Stan’s Airboat and Marsh Excavator Service are perfect for surveying companies and government contractors working in these conditions.
 
The Hydratrek was created to navigate the extreme marsh areas where surveyors and their equipment have to go. You may have used the Marsh Master line of “amphibious tractors,” which can float on open water. But the Hydratrek is better because it can swim.
 
Stan’s modified Hydratreks can hold up to eight people, and they’re useful for transporting surveyors and their tools. With more than 8,000 pounds of pulling capacity and a rear cargo bed for material handling and carrying, these vehicles are used to conduct construction, topographic, boundary, GPS and hydrographic surveys in the Louisiana marsh, Florida Everglades and wherever workers need to go.
 
These hydraulically-driven vehicles have over 16″ of ground clearance and a top ground speed of 15 mph. They also reach water speeds up to 5 mph (driven by a hydraulic dual prop system) and in the water you can use the tires only, props only or both at the same time.
 
They all are larger than your typical amphibious all-terrain vehicle (AATV) and come equipped with a 44 HP Kubota turbo-charged diesel or a Cummins 60 HP turbo-charged diesel. The operator controls them with one hand.
 
Louis Gaither, who designed the first version of the Hydratrek, says he needed a reliable vehicle to get him to and from his duck blind.
 
“My Argo failed many times in the field,” Gaither is quoted as saying. “I got stuck often, had very little maneuverability in the water and the drive system wasn’t reliable enough for heavy use in mud and water. The last straw was when I flipped the Argo on top of myself and my dog while riding on the side of a small levee. We barely survived.”
 
Gaither went on to design a prototype amphibious 4-wheeler with an aluminum tub. Being larger than a recreational-use ATV gave the machine “towing and payload capabilities, beefy diesel engines, and stability.”
 
Hydratrek engines are fuel-efficient and meet emissions standards, yet deliver the power needed to get into — and out of — places other vehicles simply can’t reach. These machines also use hydraulic systems to deliver consistent work and power output. The closed-loop hydrostatic drive system delivers great torque, reversible rotation, variable speed and constant or variable horsepower to the load at a greater efficiency than most open-loop systems.
 
Skilled Operators Take You There
 
Operators at Stan’s know the layout of area marshes and wetlands like the back of their hand. They have fished, hunted, trapped and worked in it. The operator’s knowledge and expertise about the area, combined with the rugged equipment and mechanical skill, results in successful completion of even the most grueling projects, every time.
 
A surveying crew equipped with the latest digital electronic total stations, hand-held computers and electronic data collectors needs to trust its transportation. Stan’s fleet will make sure your survey crews can reach just about any marsh or waterways South Louisiana has to offer.
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