Workers anchor cedar branches to the bank of the Riceford Creek to help stop soil erosion.

Workers anchor cedar branches to the bank of the Riceford Creek to help stop soil erosion. Photo Credit: Hometown Argus

Southeastern Minnesota is the home to many beautiful streams. However, these streams are becoming less beautiful as they are becoming more soil than water. Many stream banks are being exposed as the soil is transported downstream. This hurts the cleanliness of the streams, many of which are home to variety of species including frogs, water birds and trout.

To help preserve our streams and keep habitats for these animals clean, Winona State University, The Nature Conservancy and The Conservation Corps Minnesota have started a unique conservation effort called cedar revetment. I was lucky enough to get involved in this effort last summer and helped analyze the stream banks and transport cedar trees– which are an invasive species and bad for local prairies– to Riceford Creek located in Houston County in Minnesota.

My typical day meant pulling on my stream waders and driving down to Riceford Creek to make observations about this erosional problem. I would rate the stream banks on variables such as bank angle, bank height, amount of plants or rocks, plant root depth and density. I was then able to locate the sections of the stream that were at a crucial erosion stage and were eligible for the cedar tree placement.

After the evaluation, the cedar trees were then put into place along the bank. The cedar trees help slow down the water current and prevent material from being eroded. This will also promote the growth of trees and grasses.

This project will be monitored over a long period of time and then we’ll know just how successful it has been. Hopefully, it will clean up our streams and promote the population growth of the trout, which has recreational and economic benefits for southeastern Minnesota.

This conservation project is a chance for me to improve our environment and get a hands-on educational experience about future stream bank restoration. Through an innovative and cost effective process, we can protect the health of our streams and control a tree species that is foreign to the grassland area. I will be presenting my results at the Geological Society of America Conference in Vancouver in a couple of weeks. It was an amazing opportunity for me to be involved in such a dynamic and educational experience while being a student at Winona State University.

–Cole Tousignant