Clean Water

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From Missouri Conservationist: Feb 2008

Stream Team: Brush Creek Mid-Shed Project

  • Stream Team #: 2264
  • Date formed: April 16, 2003
  • Location: Platte County
  • For more info about Stream Teams: see links listed below.

Kimberlee Foster understands synergy. The program coordinator for the Platte Land Trust wanted to gather data about water quality and promote stream-friendly development around Brush Creek north of Kansas City. The Brush Creek Mid-Shed Project focuses its attention on the middle portion of the watershed, just downstream from the Kansas City International Airport. “We wanted to develop a management plan that would permit development while protecting the stream corridor,” said Foster. “We had a grant for water-quality monitoring, but we didn’t have sampling equipment and trained people, so I said “What about having a volunteer Stream Team? That would give us high-quality data and get the community involved, too.” Three years later, the group conducts monthly monitoring and gives public programs to build support for maintaining the stream’s high quality. They are especially interested in how storm water runoff affects water quality.

Stop Stream-Bank Erosion

Now is the best time to build tree revetments.

Stream-bank erosion robs landowners of acreage and harms fish habitat. An inexpensive and effective way to stop erosion is placing bushy tree tops along the faces of eroding banks.

Such “revetments” work three ways:

  1. They slow water currents that carve away at exposed soil.
  2. They force water to drop gravel, sand and soil particles among the tree branches, building banks instead of removing them.
  3. The accumulated soil permits sprouting of trees and other plants, whose roots strengthen the bank.

Late winter to early spring is the best time to build revetments. Choose trees whose tops are approximately two-thirds as wide as the eroding bank is tall. Cedar trees work best, because they have lots of branches and are naturally rot-resistant. Use freshly cut, live trees, which last longer.

Large trees cover more bank than small ones, and they are not much harder to move. They save work and expense, because they take fewer anchors. Cut off tree trunks where the branches end.

When installing a revetment, start at the downstream end of the eroding bank, positioning trees with butt ends upstream. Secure each tree with cables attached to anchors set in the bank. The top of each tree should overlap the butt of the previous one. This prevents erosion between trees and reduces the number of anchors needed.

Federal regulations require permits to place tree revetments in some streams. Call the nearest Conservation Department office before starting to find out if you need a permit. For detailed information about building cedar tree revetments, visit online.

This Issue's Staff

Editor in Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Staff Writer - Arleasha Mays
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Ruby
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler