A great blue heron walked along the shoreline as the student’s hauled mallets, shovels, potted plants, soil, loppers, pruners and livestakes down to the river for a lesson on river conservation and protection. Valle Crucis Park Director, Caroline Poteat and Watauga County Extension Agent, Wendy Patoprsty walked the park property in the Fall to discuss ecosystem enhancement at the park. We quickly identified a few places along the river and its tributaries that could use a little more vegetation to provide long-term bank stabilization.
On March 25 & 26, ASU Sustainable Development students planted 50 various native trees and shrubs, and 800 livestakes along the Watauga River. The Watauga River Conservation Partners purchased most of the plants and Foggy Mountain Nursery donated a few extras. Vegetation planted at Valle Crucis park included: Blueberries, River Birch, Sycamore, Hazelnut, Green Ash, Ironwood, Paw-Paw, Spicebush, and livestakes including Silky Dogwood, Elderberry, Silky Willow, and Ninebark.
Part of the project also included cleaning out some plastic erosion control matting that was bundled up and not serving a purpose anymore. The plastic mesh created a space for wildlife entanglement and foot entrapment. The students cut out the matting in areas along the river and disposed of it properly.
In the pictures you will notice the steps of scoring, cutting and pounding livestakes into the soil. The students learned the technique and had no problem installing the hundreds of sticks that will soon become shrubs so long as the beavers don’t eat them.