Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A River Runs Through It ...

In the movie I think the river ran through Montana and was full of trout. Here the river runs through my pasture and down into the ravine flowing through the woods ... plus, I'm pretty sure there are no trout! Right now it's a pretty impressive sight with it streaming down from the hill top and making this neat little waterfall. Also, at this time of year I don't think it's doing much erosion damage because there is still some frost in the ground. Come spring and summer though when the water comes tumbling down like this though it usually takes a quite a bit of dirt with it. In fact last summer I think we lost quite a few feet where the little waterfall is.

I guess this should probably be added to my list of summer projects! Obviously this won't be a little project that I can work on for a week and call good. In reality it will be a several year thing because part of the solution will have to be building up the soils so that they can store more water in the spring and summer (right now runoff is going to happen no matter what). As far as other options go I'm going to have to do some exploring. I think there would be some grasses that we could plant to help with this area and the rut that it is starting to create. Also, I've been filling it up with brush cut from other areas.

One thing is for sure ... I could make a nice little pond down there. But, I don't think it would be deep enough for trout. Maybe just some crappie and such ...


Rich said...

There is a description of a method using rocks to create 'check dams' to slow erosion in gullys at:

Low rock dams are constructed that allow the water to slowly flow through but the eroded soil is left behind to stabilize the eroded area. If enough rocks aren't available, concrete rubble could be stacked, then covered with rocks for aesthetics.

Another idea is finding some willow trees, cutting stakes from live trees, and driving them into the ground to create a modified check dam (with brush piled upstream of the stakes, etc.). If the ground is moist enough, the willow stakes will root and eventually grow a tree. I have read accounts of the banks of trout streams being stabilized using a similar technique.

Depending on your feelings towards willows, extending the staking up-slope into the pasture could also provide some forage for cattle , while helping to control erosion (I have been reading about permaculture lately).

Paul & Heather Dorrance said...

Happy wet, muddy, sloppy Spring! It's funny, but I think I detect a virtual "spring in your step" over the past several posts. Sounds like the winter doldrums are finally coming to an end!

I am getting ready to dig around the PFI Webinar stuff, but wanted to ask if the content was specifically related to IA? Would you say the information was state specific, regional, or national in nature?

Remember to set your clocks forward tomorrow night!

Rich said...

Have you considered actually building a small pond in that area to control the erosion?

There is a similar area on our farm where my father built a small pond (about 40' in diameter when it is full) when he was a teenager. He used a John Deere A with a trip bucket front-end loader to build up a low dam just above the washed out area. It usually dries up in the summer, but it usually holds a little water, and it has stopped the erosion for decades.

Start small, place your spillway so that the water flows away from the eroded area, don't dig out the spillway (leave the existing grass, etc.), and build the dam slightly higher and wider than you think it needs to be. Once you slow the water down with a dam, the erosion will slow down enough to let trees, brush, or grass grow and fill in the gully.

Just be careful, because building ponds can be addictive. I have fixed the spillways on a few ponds and rebuilt a dam on a long abandoned pond, and now I see places I would like to build ponds everywhere.

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