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Workshop helps owners handle streambank erosion

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Watershed Technician Luke Bobnar shows a group of landowners the impacts of a modified mudsill on Brokenstraw Creek during a Stream Dynamics Workshop and Tour hosted by WPC and the Warren County Conservation District.

Having a stream run through your property sounds like a good thing.

And it probably is… most of the time.

But when erosion repeatedly takes away your land, it’s time to act.

The Warren County Conservation District and Western Pennsylvania Conservancy teamed up on a Stream Dynamics Workshop recently to help landowners better understand the streams on their properties and get some ideas about how to stabilize them.

“The goal of this workshop is to educate homeowners about streams and streambank erosion, and offer solutions to property loss by erosion,” WCCD Watershed Specialist Jean Gomory said.

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Western Pennsylvania Conservancy Watershed Technician Luke Bobnar stands on a multi-log vane deflector in Brokenstraw Creek during a Stream Dynamics Workshop and Tour hosted by WPC and the Warren County Conservation District.

The event started at the Youngsville Borough Building with Gomory and WCCD Resource Conservationist Amanda Frederick talking about erosion, stream dynamics, structures and other changes that can help stabilize stream banks and permits required for projects that disturb waterways.

Some solutions to erosion were simple and included not cutting grass within 10 feet of the bank as low. “The shorter your grass is, the shorter your roots are,” Gomory said.

Adding more vegetation — the conservation district has a list of appropriate types based on shade and soil conditions — can also slow erosion.

Other solutions involve heavy equipment.

Then, the officials and 10 interested landowners went on a tour of three sites on Brokenstraw Creek and Andrews Run to see changes made by recent projects.

“Participants were able to see the installed structures in action as they protected the streambanks from further erosion, and how vegetation next to the stream kept the soil in place while providing habitat for wildlife,” Gomory said.

“The Conservation District and Western Pennsylvania Conservancy work together to provide assistance to landowners to correct their erosion problems,” WPC Watershed Manager Kylie Maland said. “We reviewed options ranging from simple vegetation management and stream-side plantings that can remedy minor erosion problems to more complex restorative measures using a variety of armoring and stabilization devices depending on the severity of site conditions.”

WPC Watershed Technician Luke Bobnar pointed out the effects and advantages of modified mudsills and multi-log vane deflector structures.

Some of those in attendance had questions about the log vanes, including why they would extend into the water against, rather than with, the direction of flow.

Bobnar explained that the vanes slow the flow along the bank, pushing the water toward the center of the creek. A vane that is installed with the flow could increase the speed of the water where the log meets the bank, increasing erosion there.

As sediment collects and builds up in the ‘V’ shape created by the vane, eventually, “you’re getting your land back,” Frederick said.

“Giving people the opportunity to see these projects in action is a great way to let them know what can be done for their own situations,” Gomory said.

“The District and Conservancy collaborate to provide a free consultation and restoration design services, fundraising for grants to pay for the projects at little or no cost to the landowner, permitting assistance and construction coordination and oversight,” Maland said. “The planning and fundraising process may last a couple of years or more, but the resulting project will be worth the wait as it will provide a long-term solution to your stream erosion problems rather than a quick fix that will require frequent maintenance.”

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