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Lewis and Clark Conservation District places willow soil lifts, preventing erosion of Lake Helena shorelines

Lewis and Clark Conservation District place willow soil lifts along shoreline
Posted at 5:27 PM, Mar 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-31 19:27:03-04

HELENA — Seven hundred feet of Lake Helena shoreline have suffered from severe erosion. On Thursday, Lewis and Clark Conservation District were inserting willow soil lifts to prevent it from happening in the future.

“The ice does quite a bit of damage to the shoreline, the wave action, and all the wind takes it down quite a bit. In the last few weeks, we have lost several feet in places that have fallen into the lake,” said landowner Gary Willems.

Willems’ shoreline property has been impacted by erosion and says that the willow soil lift project is an exciting feat for his waterfront property.

“I think it will be nice because it will provide a natural environment with the willows growing along here. It will add some flowers and grass to that, and it will turn out to be a very nice-looking shoreline,” said Willems.

To create the willow soil lifts, a layer of recycled Christmas trees will serve as the first layer placed horizontally, and the next layer will be around 14,000 willow trees harvested in early March will be placed horizontally. Coir fiber sits on top with the rest of the lift filled in with soil.

The willow trees are dormant now but will create a massive root system, making a more environmentally friendly way of keeping a shoreline intact than rock and concrete barriers.

“When they take hold, it will form a root mass that will stop the bank erosion and stop the bad water quality from turbidity and sediment. It will provide some really good habitat for birds, critters, those kinds of things, and it will look good,” said Jeff Ryan, District Supervisor of the Lewis and Clark Conservation District.

Ryan says that this project is a cheaper option to prevent erosion.

“These eroding banks are not doing the landowner any good, and this is a relatively inexpensive project. We are looking at 35 dollars per foot,” said Ryan.

After this project is completed next week, the Lewis and Clark Conservation District will have protected 1,500 feet of Lake Helena Shoreline, and if you are interested in LCCD helping your shoreline property you can visit their website.