Blue Creek Stabilization Area
Paulding Soil and Water Conservation District
Basin Program Funds:
Land drainage practices in the Maumee River and Blue Creek watersheds have caused
excessive erosion and sedimentation, creating severe water quality problems
in some parts of the watersheds. The Blue Creek watershed is one of the most
erosive in the Maumee River watershed. During public meetings held in 1994,
landowners, local and state public officials and state agency personnel supported
vegetative streambank erosion control as one solution to the deteriorating condition
of Blue Creek.
The Blue Creek watershed drains 67,000 acres, and has 37 miles of main stream
and more than 200 miles of modified open ditches. The main stream itself has
a very flat grade, and the extremely crooked nature of the creek results in
continuous erosion and sedimentation. Wide, grassed berms that had been established
and maintained by landowners in the area have fallen into the creek at a rapid
rate, leaving half of the main streambanks devoid of any vegetation. This results
in thousands of tons of new sediment entering Blue Creek each year, which increases
water quality degradation. Past drainage projects did not properly assess the
hydrology of the watershed in their design, which has left Blue Creek as one
of the most erosive water courses in the Maumee River watershed.
The purpose of the Blue Creek Stabilization Demonstration project
is to show the viability of vegetative streambank stabilization as an alternative
to rock channel lining. This will demonstrate that erosion and sedimentation
can be controlled at a reduced cost, while maintaining habitat and water quality.
This project will be a starting point for other vegetative stabilization projects
that are needed along a 20-mile stretch of Blue Creek, as well as for other
ditch maintenance projects throughout Paulding County. The project area will
also be used as a field study site for an educational program involving both
the land users and county high school students. The intent of this information/education
component is to increase awareness of the linkage between land uses, drainage
techniques, soil erosion, and their impacts on water quality in the Blue Creek
and Maumee River watersheds.
Dry conditions and low stream flow allowed for successful completion of all
phases of construction in 1995. All eroded streambank slopes (1:1-0:1) were
excavated to 2:1 slopes prior to final finish and application of seed, plant
materials, and experimental materials. In all, 5,000 linear feet were treated
in an area of five stream miles in length. In addition, 1,800 pounds of grass
was seeded on ditch slopes, berms, and disturbed areas totaling 45 acres along
After seeding, six different types of mulch netting were laid
down and stapled to the toe of the slope at various locations for a study of
effectiveness. One area was hydro-seeded with wood cellulose mulch. Next, 1,550
Bankers willows and 2,770 Streamco willows were planted in three rows, three
feet apart in the toe of the slope.
The project area was utilized for engineering and conservation
education programs before, during and after construction of the area. Activities
- Participation of three area school districts (275 students). Twelve classroom
presentations were given as well as two field presentations.
- The site hosted a Two Day Joint Agency Stream Management Workshop conducted
by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There were approximately
31 in attendance from the Ohio EPA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Natural
Resources Conservation Service, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR),
area Soil and Water Conservation District and area county engineers.
- The district's congressional representative visited the site.
- As part of an Ohio DNR/SWCD Technical Tour, 40 participants from ten northwest
Ohio County SWCD's visited the site.
- All phases of the project have been videotaped with hopes of producing
a complete story and "Do it Yourself" video.
- Operation Greenstripe allowed students to evaluate the need for filter
strips for erosion control.
The severe 1995-96 winter conditions damaged the mulch netting; however, there
was little erosion and most of the willows remained. In a normal year, the netting
would have helped to establish a solid seeding at the toe of the slope. But
the possibility of extreme weather always exists and for that reason alone,
the netting as a replacement for permanent channel lining, such as rock, is
The willow plantings have proven to be very resilient and tough.
Cuttings transplanted from local stock have proven more effective than using
commercially supplied cuttings. The new willow plantings established through
this grant provides the SWCD a good nursery from which fresh cuttings can be
taken and transplanted as dormant sticks, which will be easier than planting
The SWCD plans to continue to use vegetative methods to control
erosion on Blue Creek. Other methods such as willow posting and brush revetments
will be used, as well as hard practices such as rock rip-rap.
Through the life of the project, this demonstration will save
approximately 1,500 tons of soil. In addition, more than 300 people were shown
the techniques used as the stabilization area through classroom and filed demonstrations,
workshops, and site visits. Those benefitting from these educational efforts
included students, other Ohio SWCD personnel, an Ohio congressional representative,
and representatives from agencies such as the Ohio EPA, Ohio DNR, U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Department of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation
Contact: Tim Franklin, (419) 399-4771