CREEK PROJECT

We love this creek that flows through our property.  We bought this particular chunk of land in 2005 and at that time the creek was almost inaccesible due to willows and thick brush all along the banks. We started a project called “rip rapping,” in which the vegetation is removed, the soil is all removed from the banks, huge boulders are then laid on the banks, and the soil returned and planted with grass seed. We’ve had a few bad floods, and rip rapping will prevent the creek’s banks from eroding during such periods. When this was done, there were also “trout bunkers” installed in a few places along the length of the creek.

The best way to explain a trout bunker is an area along the bank, underwater, that is out of the main flow, so it’s sort of like a “cave” that trout can go into. The bunkers almost look like large wooden crates but they’re not enclosed. They are high enough to give the trout plenty of room inside, and then large rocks are laid on top to hold them in place, with soil on top of the rocks and grass planted on top of the soil. When they’re finished, it’s almost like “undercuts” into the bank of the stream have been created.  I think of them as trout havens. Or, trout motels.

My husband and grandson walking in the creek, removing some dead sticks.
My husband and grandson walking in the creek, removing some dead sticks.

 

1-2012 JUN CUTLER CREEK
Same day as the pic above. The right bank had been rip rapped the previous year. Now the other side has to be finished.

 

To begin the rip rap project all the vegetation had to be removed from the banks, and all the soil pulled back.
To begin the rip rap project all the vegetation had to be removed from the banks, and all the soil pulled back.

 

Rock is hauled in, waiting to be pushed down onto the bank and covered with the removed soil.
Rock is hauled in, waiting to be pushed down onto the bank and covered with the removed soil.

 

Some big trees were left standing along the banks, but all the brush and scrub trees were removed.
Some big trees were left standing along the banks, but all the brush and scrub trees were removed.

 

The rock is pushed down onto the bank, and is covered with soil.
The rock is pushed down onto the bank, and is covered with soil.

 

Rock in place and being covered with soil.
Rock in place and being covered with soil.

 

1-2011 JUN 27 RIP RAPK
Smoothing down the bank. This photo is from the beginning of the project in 2011 and shows the right bank still undone.

 

Cleaning jams out of the creek after the first phase of the project was finished.
Cleaning jams out of the creek after the first phase of the project was finished. Jack, our dog in the front, has forgotten he’s a lab, as he hates water. Bailey, the lab in back, loves the water.

 

The bank is rip-rapped and planted with grass seeds. My husband and the grandkids are pulling out branches and other brush left over from the brush removal.
The bank is rip-rapped and planted with grass seeds. My husband and the grandkids are pulling out branches and other brush left over from the brush removal.

The grandkids seem to enjoy getting into the creek and helping us clean it out. On the other hand, maybe they are just humoring us. After watching a few episodes of “Monsters Inside Me,” I’m a little leery getting into the creek without hip waders on.

 

The reinforced banks will help to prevent erosion due to floods. Since the creek is at the edge of a field that is planted in corn or soybeans, it’s important to protect the agricultural land. The video below shows how a bad flood can overrun the creek’s banks. When this happens, valuable agricultual land is lost. The video shows what the little creek, as seen in the photo above with the grandkids and my husband in it, can turn into during a bad flood period.

We'vehad a couple of floods like this. The rip rapping won't prevent the water from flooding the field, but it will stop the creek banks from eroding.
We’ve had a couple of floods like this. The rip rapping won’t prevent the water from flooding the field, but it will stop the creek banks from eroding.

The first phase of the rip rap project was started in 2011 and it was finished in 2015.  Of the creek that goes through our land, it’s all been rip rapped except for one more small section and that will probably be done as well. We had all the junk trees removed, such as the box elders and willows which were really nothing more than a jungle of brush. We planted about 150 trees, including tamarack and white swamp oak, a bit farther back from the creek edge. We also maintain the creek banks by weed whacking them and we mow the trails next to it.

1-CUTLER SANDY IN CREEK 2011
Clearing debris from the creek with my 3 year old grandson, after the first phase of the rip rapping project.

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Click here to see some of the garden areas in the yard:  GARDENS