A winding gravel driveway leads the way down a steep narrow valley to Beaverdam Creek, where the valley opens into the gentle rolling hills that make up the family farm of Bob and Darcy Deal. Hay fields follow the curve of the stream, creating an idyllic Middle Tennessee view – a view that is threatened by erosion along the stream bank and if left unchecked, will eventually take down trees along the bank and gouge out the field itself.
This scenario has become all too common, especially after the epic 2010 flood that took out up to 40 feet of stream bank in places along the main stem of the Harpeth River, of which Beaverdam Creek is a tributary.
On March 9th, volunteers with the Harpeth River Watershed Association (HRWA) met at the Deals’ farm in Burns to plant almost 400 young trees along the stream, extending the vegetated buffer to 35 feet wide. This is the second year that Cross Point Church has provided volunteers to plant trees during their service day. Last year they planted trees at Burns Park in Kingston Springs with HRWA. HRWA has similar tree planting restoration projects this season in Davidson and Williamson Counties with funds from The Dan & Margaret Maddox Charitable Fund with their support of The Fish Habitat Restoration Initiative, a collaborative effort of HRWA with the Tennessee Environmental Council, to conduct stream restoration projects in Middle TN.
A buffer zone along a stream consisting of trees, shrubs and grasses is important for the health of a stream system. Trees provide stability to stream banks through their root systems. This helps to reduce the amount of soil washing into the stream. They also provide shade for the steam itself, keeping water temperature cool during hot summer months. This is important for water quality: cooler water maintains higher levels of dissolved oxygen, necessary for aquatic life. A wide vegetated buffer along the stream slows down storm water runoff, allowing water to be absorbed into the ground before flowing into and overwhelming a stream. A forested buffer also provides great wildlife habitat.
The best time of year to plant trees is the winter, while the trees are dormant. In Tennessee, trees should be planted between November and March. The trees used at the Deals’ farm were a mix of native species including sycamore, sweet gum, river birch, oaks, silver maple, red mulberry, silky dogwood and cottonwood.
The Harpeth River Watershed Association encourages everyone with stream-front property to consider these tips for managing their stream bank to protect it from erosion.
TIPS for protecting your stream bank property
• Create a NO MOW zone along the bank
• Plant trees and shrubs along bank to stabilize soil with root systems
• Slow down storm water before it enters the stream
• Mow to the edge of the stream
• Cut down trees and shrubs along bank
• Channelize storm water drainage to move water quickly to stream.
The Harpeth River Watershed Association is a non-profit organization that protects the state scenic Harpeth River and clean water throughout Tennessee by partnering with state and local government, implementing hands-on restoration work, and engaging in community education.
To volunteer with HRWA on a future restoration project, including stream cleanups scheduled for June and July, contact Anneli TerryNelson, River Restoration Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-658-8073.