‘Green’ event stabilizes eroding river banks

Mainspring's Rachel Newcomb participated in a recent live staking event, making sure cuttings of trees are planted to help keep river banks from eroding.

Deena C. Bouknight Contributing Writer

Along nearby rivers are eroding banks caused by not only development, but agriculture – and especially livestock. Because a variety of natural and manmade disturbances can often lead to unhealthy streams due to elimination of plant life, live staking provides an opportunity to reverse the effects. On Wednesday, Feb. 16, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., the Clean and Green event will offer anyone interested an opportunity to participate in live staking along the Tuckasegee River. 

“Mainspring Conservation Trust [sponsors of the event] supports live staking efforts because it is an affordable, efficient, and simple way to have a positive impact on stream restoration,” said Rachel Newcomb, Conservation Outreach Associate. “Last year was the first year we partnered with the N.C. Wildlife Federation’s Clean and Green program for two separate tree planting and live staking events, and we’re proud to be doing this again this year.” 

Newcomb said that live staking is necessary because river and stream banks that experience erosion disturbances are often left bare and without a strong root mass in the soil. And, without plants and roots, soil particles can wash away during high waters, heavy rains, and snow melts. Some of the results are: sediment pollution in the water, loss of land, and unsightly eroded banks.

“The relatively low-cost process of live staking reintroduces plant life in areas that need it most,” explained Newcomb. “Stem cuttings are taken from surrounding already thriving trees, during their dormant season before the buds break in the spring, and the cuttings are inserted directly into stream banks. These cuttings are the ‘live stakes’ that will eventually grow into new trees, which will hold onto the soil and keep it from washing away so easily.”

Volunteers will be harvesting, or clipping, live stakes from trees and inserting them into the ground with the assistance and guidance of representatives from Mainspring and Darnell Farms, an agro-tourism farm along the banks of the Tuckasegee River in Bryson City.

“Volunteers will be assisting with live staking and can be prepared to do this by showing up in outdoor workwear-appropriate clothing and bringing gloves and water with them,” said Newcomb. “Live staking is a kid-friendly event so children are welcome. We will be working along a canal area in an agricultural-use field in particular to stabilize the bank area on both sides.”

In addition to the Feb. 16 event, Mainspring is hosting a tree planting event on March 10 in Cherokee County.

Anyone interested in volunteering to help live stake for Clean and Green must register at mainspringconserves.org/events. Volunteers who sign up will be contacted about the Feb. 16 opportunity.