Stopping Erosion with Native Plants

Wednesday, August 8, 2012 - 12:48pm


Nessarose Schear

A few weeks ago we teamed up with North Fork Native Plants and Intermountain Aquatics to restore a portion of bank on the lower Henry’s Fork. They have done several restorations in the past and have determined a method based on trial and error. The status quo for stopping erosion is to use large rocks, which works when the natural substrate of the river is rocky, but is not effective in sandy riverbeds because the rocks are just washed away. Rocks also do nothing to re-establish native vegetation. 
Partially restored bank
            Instead of rocks we used organic materials and native plants to secure the banks. After an excavator had leveled the steep slope, we staked down a burlap cloth made of biodegradable coconut fibers on the tow of the slope.  Above this, we dug a huge trench and dropped in bio-logs. Bio-logs are pre-planted with a mixture of native grasses and young willows and are given their cylindrical structure by more burlap. After the bio-logs, we planted coyote willows of various sizes, and a mixture of hawthorn, currant, roses, and snowberries. As Katie Salsbury of North Fork Native Plants explained, diversity is the best insurance policy when it comes to successful restoration.

Check out the awesome video that Matt put together about our week! Watch it to the end, it gets really good.