Volunteers to Rescue Native Plant Preserve
Native grasses and shrubs have been washed away during repeated flooding in the Lehigh River, due to inadequate rooting. Now conservationists and volunteers are trying again to restore native species to the Sand Island Native Plant Preserve in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Four years ago, the initial effort had been made to restore native plants to the Lehigh Canal Towpath. Volunteers ripped out the invasive Japanese knotweed, and replaced it with natives, such as wild rye, bluestem and bluebells. However, those working on the project did not anticipate just how deeply the root systems of the knotweed extended, and how important the knotweed was to keeping the soil together.
Those working on the project are now using coconut matting to help stabilize the soil as the new native plants grow, and are also using coconut logs to try and stabilize the bank. Eventually, the bushes planted along the towpath will be able to secure the soil as the coconut mats decompose.
City to Remove Bridge
The city of Lincoln, Illinois, is investigating whether to use a closed bridge as a source of riprap to stave off soil erosion along the very stream it stood atop.
The city’s Oglesby Avenue Bridge has been closed due to safety concerns, and is scheduled to be removed.
The city’s engineer has proposed breaking the bridge up and using the concrete beams and abutments as riprap for the Brainard’s Branch drainage ditch that sits below the bridge. The area disturbed by the destruction of the bridge would slope from the bank to the streambed, and be planted to further prevent erosion.
Turnarounds would be constructed on both sides of the street to serve as dead-ends. The cost of demolition would be approximately $50,000.
A member of the town’s council, however, is proposing keeping the bridge in place for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Hikers Urged to Stay on Trails
Vermont conservationists are encouraging hikers using the state’s mountain trails to slog through the mud for the next few months, in order to stave off erosion.
Rain and melting snow at higher elevations in the Green Mountains causes a “mud season” in the state that can last for months. With the warm winter, the mud season has started earlier than normal, but that doesn’t mean that it will necessarily end sooner.
Hikers are being specifically targeted, because the plant life in the saturated soil is much more fragile and can be eroded away much more quickly if trampled. Volunteers are working to keep trails cleared and allow them to dry out more quickly.
There are more than 500 miles of trails in Vermont, including large portions of the Appalachian Trail. Conservationists are encouraging hikers to stay at low elevations currently, as the ground there is firmer.
Drainage Ditch Sinks in Texas
Fort Bend County workers have begun work on a sinking draining ditch that eroded more than a quarter mile of land in a Richmond neighborhood near Houston, Texas.
The ditch runs 30 feet deep and 80 feet across at its widest point. It began eroding after a recent storm broke down a drainage pipe and concrete structure that was stabilizing water flow into nearby Brazos River.
Many residents watched the land cave in. One resident said, “Every 30 seconds a big chunk of land, like the size of a van, just started falling in.”
No damage to people or property has been reported, and County Commissioner Richard Morrison says that the erosion has been contained. “We’ve already put in crushed concrete where the erosion ended,” he said, “so that will prevent it from eroding back further if another rain comes.”
Morrison predicts that the ditch should be mended within five to six weeks.
Virginia Town to Fix Waterways
The town of Dumfries, Virginia, is being asked to take the lead in combating soil erosion in two nearby creeks, as well as infestation of an invasive aquatic plant.
A private civic organization, Friends of Quantico Bay, has been advocating fixes for the waterways, but has told the town that it would be better positioned to receive grant funding to deal with the problems.
Many property owners have lost major portions of their backyards to erosion, due to high water along the creeks. The rise in water levels may have been caused by development to the west along Interstate 95. Stormwater currently flows into an area landfill, which drains into the Quantico Bay, causing it to fill with sediment.
The bay may ultimately have to be dredged in order to create a viable port for the town.