Keep the Neighbors Talking...
about CONSERVATION, that is!
Landowner Ed Landis (center) discusses his conservation plan with NRCS
Engineer Scott Wright and NRCS District Conservationist Theresa
“In a small community, people watch what you do,” said McGovern. “After seeing how this type of project works, others are interested in similar projects.”
When Ed Landis decided to control the erosion on his creek banks with engineered stream barbs, he also received a few barbs — the well-meant kind — from his neighbors. Many locals were accustomed to seeing rock rip rap along streambanks for erosion control. To some, the low, slightly hooked rock fingers seemed too unobtrusive to absorb the water’s erosive power, but Landis proved it would work.
“Some people had their doubts,” says Landis, “but it has been a success in every way.”
Landis owns 76 acres of mostly forest land in Oregon’s Linn County. Running through the site is a meandering stretch of Crabtree Creek, which in a single winter, washed away 30 feet of streambank. To learn how to deal with the problem, Landis attended workshops held by the local conservation district. There, he heard about assistance available through the Natural Resources Conservation Service, or NRCS.
At his request, local NRCS specialists worked with Landis to examine not only the condition of the streambank, but the entire property as well. The on-site analysis included a topographic survey and a hydraulic analysis, as well as a careful examination of the site’s soils, plants, wildlife and floodplain features.
NRCS provided information on land treatment options that met Landis’ objectives to manage the site for timber, wildlife and recreation as well as site-specific resource conservation needs. With this information, Landis developed a conservation plan that included forest management, a streambank stabilization project, and a vegetative buffer. This suite of conservation treatments addresses multiple resource needs and allows the individual practices to work in concert with each other for the greatest effectiveness.
The forest management component provides strategies for long-term maintenance that improves forest health, provides wildlife habitat, and protects soil and water quality. Landis replanted the previously logged site with native trees, like the Willamette Ponderosa Pine and works to stay ahead of aggressive, less desireable species like teasel and blackberries.
For the stabilization project, Landis was eligible to enroll into the USDA, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, which provides cost-share for installation and engineering design.
Stabilization included the strategic placement of three engineered stream barbs extending part way across the creek along the impact side of the meander. The angle, slope, width and height were designed to transfer the water’s force from the bank to the barb. The approach ensures that the energy is absorbed and not transferred downstream. Upstream and downstream logjams further slow the flow of water, while a dense planting of willows along the bank provide extra stability.
The next year, Landis installed a 7-acre vegetative stream buffer. For this project, he was eligible for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, or CREP, which provides cost share and an annual rental payment for the buffer, which includes grasses, shrubs and trees above the creek. The buffer provides added water quality and habitat benefits.
According to Landis, finding the right program and technical assistance at the right time made the project happen.
More importantly, Landis is happy with the results. Crabtree Creek has stayed in place and the site retains a natural look. The stream barbs blend into the landscape, and the plantings provide habitat for birds and mammals. The stream barbs and logjams provide food and cover for species like native salmon during high and low flows, and since work was completed a year ago, Landis has noticed more wildlife using his land, including eagles and river otter.
And it isn’t just the wildlife that have noticed the change. The once doubtful neighbors are stopping by to see the results Ed Landis had envisioned from the start.
Written by Jill Rees, NRCS
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