Sept. 16, 2013 03:55

Business Talk

Funds Help Flood Victims

Property owners in Minnesota have received state grants to help restore flood and erosion damage to their homes and businesses. Although some help is available from the federal Small Business Administration, many homeowners and small businesses could only qualify for $50,000, no matter how large the overall bill for restoration might be.

The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil resources focuses on erosion and sediment control, mainly on private lands, and flood recovery projects that are not covered by federal or other state funds. They are able to provide property owners with funding from several thousand dollars to amounts in excess of $100,000. Most of the grants seek to restore public watersheds and fishing streams as well as repairing damage to private property. Those with flood damage only are still eligible for state grants up to $40,000.

Restoration Progressing At Bonita Beach

Pelican landing Beach Park in Florida, a property on the northern end of Big Hickory Island, has received some much needed sand placement relief. The 34-acre private park, contractually shared by Hyatt Hotel and Hyatt Coconut Plantation, was subject to serious beach erosion from Hurricane Charley in 2004. Since then, the island’s owners have been petitioning local, state and federal agencies for assistance.

In July of 2013, the park received a 43-day relief project which included beach restoration, and further plans to build seven kingpile groins (hydraulic structures), to stabilize the sand.

Soil Threatened By Erosion

Experts warn that if erosion continues unchecked, fertile Midwest topsoil could be gone in 60 years. However, a recent project in Iowa shows promise in slowing or halting loss of topsoil, thanks to native plants.

Scientists at Iowa State University planted strips of prairie flowers and grasses alongside crops, reducing sediment loss and chemical runoff by up to 90 percent. The tall grasses, with their deep roots act as a filtration system to hold onto topsoil and purify irrigation water runoff.

One farmer saw a silted pond clear up when he planted native prairie grasses and flowers around it. New strips of prairie plants take about three years to fully mature. They replace weeds and act as a beneficial wetland habitat for wildlife and waterfowl, as well as a barrier against wind erosion.

Alaskan Village Will Vanish Under Rising Seas

It clings to a narrow spit of sand next to the frigid waters of the Chukchic Sea, and may be remembered as the home of America’s first climate change refugees. The tiny village of Kivalina is home to four hundred Inupiat (Eskimo) people who depend on the ocean for hunting and fishing. By the end of this decade, rising sea waters may mean the end of their lifestyle and their villages too.

In the last 20 years, coastal erosion has left them vulnerable to harsh Arctic storms and the Army Corps of Engineers predicts that Kivalina could be uninhabitable by 2025. retreating ice, coastal erosion and rising sea levels have left three settlements facing destruction and another eight at serious risk. Temperature records show the Arctic region of Alaska is warming twice as fast as the rest of the USA.

Newest Finn Dealer

Finn Corporation has announced that is has added Bobcat of Nashville to its dealer network. They will carry the full line of equipment and products as well as Finn’s hydroseeding consumables and TRU-Mulch hydromulches.

In addition to sales of Finn equipment, Bobcat of Nashville will also offer equipment rentals and will be a Finn authorized parts and service facility.

They will service the western Tennessee market.

Halting Erosion At Former Coal Mine

Ten thousand linear feet of twelve-inch straw wattles and a mix of native grasses and forbs will be used to halt erosion on steep, bare terrain outside the now shuttered Boston Mine in Colorado, where coal mining ended nearly 90 years ago.

Straw mulch was spread over 87 cubic yards of a biochar/compost mix laid down on bare areas, and tree trunks were cut to build check dams in gullies that drain the five acre project area.

In 1992, the mine portal was sealed with polyurethane foam and seepage was treated in now defunct wetlands, which the new project will replace with 20,000 ponderosa pine, Gambel oak and mountain mahogany seedlings.

Trees to Control Erosion

Hundreds of young trees have been planted in Joplin, Missouri, as part of an erosion control effort. A state grant from the Missouri Department of Natural resources paid for 1,500 saplings to be added throughout the city, to cut down on stormwater runoff. Normally, they would wait for the fall to plant, but state funding required all trees to be planted by the end of August.

A local nursery is in charge of the planting and maintenance of the trees for one year; any trees that don’t survive must be replaced, by contract stipulations.

Historic Cemetery Battles Erosion

Are problems plaguing the Old Burial Ground, also known as Blauvelt Cemetery, in Harrington Park, New Jersey? It suffers from severe soil erosion and a deteriorating retaining wall. The cemetery, with over 100 historic headstones, had its first documented burials in the mid-1700s.

local officials seek state and county support in rebuilding the retaining wall and eliminating a swale that collects drainage coming down the hillside, where the graves are located. The project is estimated to cost $125,000.

The decay of the hilltop and the “sharp slope” of the land caused concerns that the area could erode dangerously in the future. A local councilman said, “We might be one bad storm away from headstones sliding into the walkway on Tappan road.”

From Bad to Worse

The Town of Palm Beach, Florida, is waiting patiently for assistance and action, coupled with sea turtle guidelines, to deal with recent significant storm-related erosion along the coastline. The erosion substantially reduced the original beach height by more than two feet, and in some areas much more. But even more dangerous, in high tide, the water hides knifelike remnants of steel girders used to fight erosion.

Decades ago, huge steel girders were set into the beach and out into the water to reduce erosion, but it seems now the consequences of saltwater eating away at these steel barriers, year after year, has taken its toll. Sharp knife-like remnants are everywhere, out on the beach and in the water.

Anyone who walks along the water or dashes into the ocean should know that there are several exposed hazards from these eroding girders. Hopefully, both problems will be remedied immediately.

Dutch Share Beach Erosion Solutions

Martin Pagliughi, mayor of Avalon, New Jersey, met with Dutch experts during a United Nations conference in New York and invited them to Avalon. They are from different countries and represent governments that may be oceans apart mitigating crises, but they found themselves on common ground as they walked along a beach in Avalon. The visitors shared their country’s coastal ideas with the mayor.

“We thought we could learn a thing or two from a country that has been involved in coastal protection for hundreds of years,” said Pagliughi. “But it is amazing how much we have in common. It actually surprised us how similar the things they do are to what we do.”

The most similar strategy the two sides discovered between them is a movement away from building structures like groins and seawalls in the United States and dikes in the Netherlands, and instead using natural barriers to keep the water at bay, added Pagliughi.

The Dutch have been dealing with flooding since the 1300s. As much as 60 percent of the country’s population is living in a flood plain, places that would be underwater without water-management measures. “We plan to continue to exchange ideas and research with the Dutch,” the Mayor said, “and I think the partnership will be one more beneficial component to our entire strategy here moving forward.”

Seawalls Threaten Sea Turtle Nests

Palm Beach County, Florida, uses seawalls to control erosion, but the walls have federal officials worried. The walls are designed to keep the expensive waterfront buildings from washing away, but there is concern about where some endangered creatures will nest.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sent a letter to the state Department of Environmental Protection to complain about all the steel and concrete seawalls the state is allowing to be built, because the walls may block sea turtles from nesting there.

Hawaiian Beaches in Retreat

A new study by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reveals an alarming loss of beach area on the three major Hawaiian Islands due to coastal erosion. “This is a serious problem,” said a geologist with the University of Hawaii.

The USGS report claims that over the last century, about nine percent of the sandy coasts of Hawaii, Maui and Oahu have disappeared. That would be equal to fourteen miles of pristine beach. This loss is mostly due to rising sea levels.

Also in Soil Erosion News

In many ways, we are fortunate that, in our chosen profession, we are able to help people when certain disasters occur: the tornadoes in Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Georgia, the flooding in Louisiana, the snows in the northeastern part of the country, the rain in California, and the snow in Colorado....

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