Fragile After Fire
Arizona’s Granite Mountain Recreation Area, closed in June by the “Doce” fire, has recently been reopened to the public. The recreation area, near Prescott, includes the Granite Mountain Wilderness, Granite Basin Lake and trails in the vicinity. A section of hiking trails remains closed at this time.
Since the closure, crews have worked to rehabilitate the land, reseeding and mulching the area. U.S. Forest Service helicopters dropped seed and mulch over affected areas in late July, in an effort to reduce erosion and soil damage that covered nearly 250 acres. Forty-six acres were rehabilitated by hand.
“We have been waiting for the monsoons to end to see what kind of damage, if any, the rains would bring in to the area and to the trails,” said Prescott National Forest spokesperson Debbie Maneely.
Work has begun on a project to control erosion along 1,000 feet of shoreline at Evergreen Lake in Hudson, Illinois. “We are doing something kind of special on this project; we’re creating what’s called ‘lunker structures’,” said Rick Twait, Bloomington’s superintendent of water purification, “Lunker structures, which enhance fish habitat, are created by placing reinforced concrete culvert piping below water level,” Twait said. Jackie Kraft, watershed coordinator for the McLean County Soil and Water Conservation District, said, “These structures will be topped with the large rocks used for erosion control and will be along about 100 feet of shore.”
“It’s a great place for fish to hang out. The food comes to them,” Twait explained. The total cost is expected to be about $95,000, with $50,000 being covered by a grant from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. “The catfish are going to be awesome,” he said.
Before the Rains Come
Caltrans, the state agency responsible for planning, construction and maintenance of all highways, bridges and rail transportation in California, is working on soil stabilization and erosion control in Tuolumne County. The work is necessary to repair damage sustained from the Rim Fire, which includes Yosemite National Park.
Caltrans spokesperson Angela Daprato said, “A lot of trees burned, so there is the possibility of erosion. We’re taking precautions to make sure the roadway doesn’t get closed due to mudslides.”
In August, the Governor declared a state of emergency in the area. So before the winter rains come, immediate action needs to be taken to prevent further damage to the roadways.
Coastal Erosion Lawsuit
A local official in Louisiana spoke in defense of an unprecedented lawsuit filed against nearly 100 oil, gas and pipeline companies by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. He compared the oil and gas industry to rock stars who brought money to the area but “trashed the hotel room.”
The lawsuit claims that oil and gas activity is a major cause of the erosion of coastal land that serves as a buffer against flooding from hurricanes.
A state senator questioned whether the flood protection authority had the power to file the suit. He accused the board of acting without enough consultation with state agencies.
Rain Formed Small Canyon
Four inches of rain has caused major erosion on Cahoon Hollow Beach in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. “The storm formed a small canyon in the beach,” said Suzanne Grout Thomas, beach administrator.
“There’s no easy fix for this,” she said. The town would need to bring in large quantities of sand, however; the local conservation committee has a rule that matching sand of the same grain size must be used to fix erosion problems. “And there is no guarantee that hauling sand in will permanently fix the problem,” said Thomas.
Website Helps Determine Best Shoreline Plants
A new website, called the Coastal Riparian Landscaping Guide for Long Island Sound, has been launched to help landscape contractors, communities and homeowners in that area determine what plants work best along the shoreline.
Most shoreline property owners plant and maintain lawns in order to preserve their views and access to the beach. Heather Crawford, a marine ecologist and chair of the Madison Conservation Commission in Madison, Connecticut, says a lawn is exactly what not to plant along a shoreline. “Turfgrass has very little root system, so the waves are able to eat out all the dirt underneath.”
The website poses three initial questions to ask: a property’s proximity to salt, its protection, and its slope. The answers establish parameters for an appropriate list of native plants suitable to the terrain, and sketches of sample landscape layouts are provided.