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Learn How to Care for Your Stream at Two Watauga County Cooperative Extension Workshops in October


Dozens of folks attended a similar workshop in March. Photo by Donna Lisenby

By Jesse Wood

Sept. 12, 2012. Have you ever wondered how to care for your stream, but weren’t quite sure where to begin? Well, the Watauga Cooperative Extension Center has you covered with two hands-on events in October regarding streambank erosion. And one of them is free. 

From 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 10, specialists from N.C. State University, Watagua County Cooperative Extension and the National Committee for the New River will provide a streambank repair workshop in Boone.

The event starts at the Agricultural Conference Center in Boone for an early indoor-classroom session. The workshop will then move to Hodges Creek behind Appalachian Mountain Brewery for hands-on lessons.

“There will be equipment doing the heavy work. People won’t have to be laborers,” assured Natural Resources Extension Agent Wendy Patoprsty, adding that the workshop is a “great time” to ask questions to and work with specialists, engineers and river people on site.

Participants of the workshop will learn about causes of streambank erosion and how to use native plants to create a healthy streamside environment. Participants will also have hands-on experience in enhancing an eroding streambank using grading, matting, and various natural plants.

Attendees will have the opportunity to watch, ask questions, and even plant trees and shrubs to stabilize and beautify a streambank. The shrub and tree roots will help keep the soil in place and the shade will keep the temperature cool for our cold-water loving organisms, like trout.

Homeowners, local government personnel, landscapers, utility workers and park managers are encouraged to attend. The event costs $45, and lunch is provided.

To register for this workshop please go to www.bae.ncsu.edu/workshops/stream_repair.php

For more information, contact Patoprsty at Wendy_Patoprsty@ncsu.edu or call 828-264-3061.

As a follow up event, the Watauga River Partners, Watauga County Cooperative Extension and the National Committee for the New River will give away native live stakes on Saturday, Oct. 27, during another streambank erosion workshop.

Registration takes place from 8:30 to 9 a.m. and is free. A couple different presentations will occur at the Agricultural Conference Center starting at 9 a.m. Foggy Mountain Nursery will be there and bring their expertise on native riparian plants.  They will have examples of the types of plants one should plant along their stream.

Then, the workshop will move to Hodges Creek behind the Appalachian Mountain Brewery to plant some live stakes. The workshop should end no later than 12:30 and snacks and drinks will be provided.

More about Streambank Erosion and Live Stakes
From a press release by Patoprsty:

“Across Western North Carolina, streambank erosion—and the resulting build-up of sediment in stream channels—is having negative impacts on water quality and habitat for “critters”, including trout that live in the streams. Live stakes are an effective way to reduce streambank erosion. At this point you may be wondering, “What is a live stake?” It is a long hardwood cutting from a native shrub, adapted to moist conditions, planted outdoors without rooting hormones. In this area, we use silky dogwood, elderberry, ninebark, silky willow, and buttonbush.

“These woody plants have extensive root systems that stabilize the soil on stream banks during rainfall and high water flow. The shade produced by the shrubs help maintain the cooler temperatures that our mountain fish and aquatic life need to survive, while the leaves help provide habitat and food for insects and fish. (Leaves fall into the stream, aquatic insects eat and live in the leaves, trout eat the insects) “Greening our Creeks” with vegetation is really important because it acts as a filter to prevent sediment, fertilizers, pesticides, bacteria, pathogens, and heavy metals from entering our rivers.”