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Watauga Riverkeeper to Hold “Live Staking” Volunteer Days to Stabilize Riverbanks, Prevent Erosion

Over the next few months, Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill will hold a series of “live staking” volunteer days to stabilize riverbanks and prevent erosion in the Watauga River basin. For these events, Hill will team up with volunteers to plant tree cuttings while wading and/or paddling in the Watauga.

A live stake is a cutting from a tree species like silky dogwood, black willow, or elderberry that can be planted along riverbanks and eventually reduces sediment erosion. “These stakes will grow into trees that will stabilize the sides of the rivers and creeks where we plant them, and will reduce the overall amount of sediment getting into the river,” Hill explains. Sediment is one of the worst forms of river pollution, as it clogs aquatic habitats, increases water temperature (which is harmful for trout and other species) and transports toxic substances. When spring comes, the stakes’ nodes that were planted underground will sprout roots, helping to hold the riverbank in place.

This is the second year Hill has held the live staking days – which are also called “Paddle-n-Plant Days.” Together, Hill and volunteers planted 2,500 live stakes last year, and this year Hill hopes they can plant 3,000 more.

Attendees of the live staking days will gather at Valle Crucis Community Park at 10 AM on February 9, February 16, March 9, March 16, April 19 and April 26. The events will last until 2 PM. To participate, sign up at mountaintrue.org/eventscalendar/. If private landowners in the Watauga Basin are interested in a stream bank assessment or hosting a live staking workday, Hill encourages them to contact him at andy@mountaintrue.org.

The Watauga Riverkeeper is a program of MountainTrue that promotes swimmable, fishable and drinkable water in the Watauga River basin.

With offices in Boone, Asheville and Hendersonville, MountainTrue works in 23 counties to champion resilient forests, clean waters and healthy communities in our region. MountainTrue engages in policy advocacy at all levels of government, local project advocacy, and on-the-ground environmental restoration projects. Primary program areas include public lands, water quality, clean energy, land use/transportation, and citizen engagement.