Covering uneven terrain
Scott Township, a suburb in southwestern Indiana, recently purchased a 35-acre tract of undeveloped land to use as a public park. Although the town is leaving most of the heavily wooded area untouched, it needed to restore an existing pond on the property before it could open the park to the public this spring.
The Scott Township Board of Trustees purchased the land for the park in early 2003 from a private land developer. Following the purchase, members of the Vanderburgh County Soil & Water Conservation District, township board and residents formed the Friends of Scott Township Park organization to plan the site’s development.
The group wanted to tread lightly and leave the land as natural as possible for use by local schools as a nature preserve and learning center. However, part of the land’s appeal was an existing two-acre pond with a levee that the group needed to refurbish before residents could visit. A spillway also was needed to direct runoff water from the wooded land above the pond into an adjacent area below the levee. The spillway would redirect water if the pond overflowed following heavy rains.
To restore the pond, the group needed to reinforce the levee encircling most of the pond, which required removing many trees that had weakened the structure. Using volunteers, the group removed the trees but exposed a significant amount of soil to erosion.
Working with a tight budget and an expanse of bare soil to cover, the park’s management developed an erosion control plan with the help of Evansville, Ind.-based North American Green. The plan included using a fully biodegradable, wildlife-friendly erosion control blanket and grass seed for those areas of the development exposed to potentially high rates of erosion, such as the pond’s spillway and part of the levee’s 45-degree backside slope. Loose straw and seed were applied on the flatter part of the levee where the potential for erosion was minimal.
The company donated S150 BioNet erosion control blankets that featured fully biodegradable woven jute nets on top and bottom, along with a straw mulch sewn with biodegradable thread between the nets. The woven jute nets used in the blankets would reduce the potential for wildlife entanglement that can occur more easily with synthetic nets.
In early spring 2004, approximately 1,200 yards of blankets were applied to the soil after it was graded and seeded, which was just in time to protect the property during a heavy storm that moved through the county only two days later. Although the storm damaged power lines and trees throughout the region, the blanket protected the levee, and the spillway averted excessive erosion while the extra moisture accelerated vegetation growth. Within six weeks, the grass had grown six to eight inches high and covered about 75 percent of the ground. When the park opened this spring, the pond was ready for the community to use.
Since the park opened, residents have been visiting to enjoy the pond’s abundant fishing and to hike trails that were cut through the woods. Currently, the town is adding restrooms, a picnic area and more trails to complete the park.