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Mon Jan 6, 2020, 05:36 PM

Looking for answers about creek/runoff erosion control.

I will do my best to try and describe this creek before I ask my question.

It is a mountain creek so it has lots going into it and a lot of push at the bottom. After it comes screaming down the mountain it is at about a 35 degree angle for about 1/4 mile or so and then nature decided that the gradual grade wasn't enough for that last couple of feet and it made a waterfall to get there quicker. It hollowed out a hole about 20 feet wide and about 10 feet deep with a serious bank undercutting. Every rock and boulder up the mountain came with the creek and were deposited right after this hole it made and beyond. The boulders and brush it collected were carried and dumped for several hundred feet. It claimed a lot of land and dumped 3+ feet of sediment. We want to try and reclaim the land and put the creek back on the right path vs the path of least resistance.

My question is this... when working on restoration of this creek … where in the world do I start? At the waterfall and work my way downstream or downstream and clear my way up?

Unfortunately, the property line is a couple feet before the waterfall so working upstream is probably not possible. Did I mention mounds (2 to 3' high) and MOUNDS (5' and higher) of boulders deposited everywhere?

If anyone can understand what I am getting at... you are doing good!









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Arrow 36 replies Author Time Post
Reply Looking for answers about creek/runoff erosion control. (Original post)
GemDigger Jan 2020 OP
Crazyleftie Jan 2020 #1
GemDigger Jan 2020 #5
alittlelark Jan 2020 #2
GemDigger Jan 2020 #3
alittlelark Jan 2020 #6
GemDigger Jan 2020 #9
yonder Jan 2020 #4
GemDigger Jan 2020 #7
Arkansas Granny Jan 2020 #8
GemDigger Jan 2020 #10
AllaN01Bear Jan 2020 #11
KPN Jan 2020 #12
GemDigger Jan 2020 #14
KPN Jan 2020 #15
GemDigger Jan 2020 #16
gristy Jan 2020 #28
Nac Mac Feegle Jan 2020 #13
KPN Jan 2020 #17
GemDigger Jan 2020 #21
KPN Jan 2020 #25
GemDigger Jan 2020 #34
Ptah Jan 2020 #18
KPN Jan 2020 #26
2naSalit Jan 2020 #19
GemDigger Jan 2020 #20
2naSalit Jan 2020 #22
GemDigger Jan 2020 #23
2naSalit Jan 2020 #24
Bayard Jan 2020 #27
GemDigger Jan 2020 #31
Kali Jan 2020 #29
GemDigger Jan 2020 #33
Kali Jan 2020 #35
GemDigger Jan 2020 #36
hunter Jan 2020 #30
GemDigger Jan 2020 #32

Response to GemDigger (Original post)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 05:46 PM

1. Talk to the corps of engineers

That are good at destroying the natural environment

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Response to Crazyleftie (Reply #1)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 06:25 PM

5. We are trying to fix it with replanting natural grasses, plants and trees

For the many wildlife that lives in the area.

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Response to GemDigger (Original post)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 05:48 PM

2. Pics and a topo map needed.

Water will ALWAYS go the path of least resistance. You will need to create a new 'path of least resistance'.

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Response to alittlelark (Reply #2)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 06:19 PM

3. I wish I could upload the pics I have.

The path of least resistance needs to get put back on course. From the waterfall to the river is all flat land. When you stand just after the hole and look around, that particular undercut is the ONLY place there have been no boulders dumped. There are so many boulders I have to wonder if there are any left on the mountain.

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Response to GemDigger (Reply #3)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 06:28 PM

6. With a backhoe and a week - and a well thought out plan

You could do amazing things!

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Response to alittlelark (Reply #6)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 06:49 PM

9. Muscle, blood and a summer will hopefully get it done.

Getting machinery in would do way more harm than good. I am working on that amazing plan as soon as the snow melts I will put it into action.

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Response to GemDigger (Original post)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 06:21 PM

4. No expert here, but:

When laying pipe (gravity) you start at the bottom and work uphill. I would think you would do the same here even though you may not be laying any pipe.

And for repair/restoration a system of gabion baskets or walls, located strategically, along with plenty of appropriately placed rip-rap may result in a suitable fix.

In any case, several hundred feet sounds expensive even if you have some kind of backhoe/loader/tractor. Also, there may be some restrictions on when or what you can do with that flow on both the uphill or downhill side of that creek outside your area of concern. It would probably be worth it to consult with a civil engineer and have a professional evaluation and/or design performed.

Screwing around with water can be expensive in the present AND in the future.

My two cents.

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Response to yonder (Reply #4)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 06:41 PM

7. No machinery will be involved.

Picks, shovels, pry bars, rope pullers/come alongs/block and tackle, woman power and man power. I have been in the google and you tube wormhole for hours and hours (days) and the one thing they never tell you is which end to start at.

The property line upstream is about 2 feet from the waterfall, so doing any work there is probably iffy. from the waterfall to the river is about a half mile downstream with the last hundred feet a neighbors property where they will let us finish cleaning and replanting.

The other issue we have to deal with is the silt/sediment and the need to create places for it to settle without going into the river because about a mile down river is a reservoir.

I think downstream sounds like a plan. That way I can make sediment catches and work my way up.

Thank you for your input.

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Response to GemDigger (Original post)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 06:45 PM

8. Your county extension agent might be able to hook you up with

people in your area that have experience with that type of restoration.

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Response to Arkansas Granny (Reply #8)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 06:50 PM

10. Thank you Arkansas Granny.

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Response to GemDigger (Original post)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 06:52 PM

11. found this video a # of years ago.

&app=desktop

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Response to GemDigger (Original post)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 06:55 PM

12. Are you still in Montana? If so, depending on

where you are specifically, there are several sources of advice you can consult with. If you have a US Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management office near you, you might try consulting with a hydrologist or fisheries biologist at that office. USFS and BLM both have been involved in watershed management and restoration activities fairly extensively over the past couples of decades. You could also consult with similar personnel at the nearest MT Game and Fish Office. Does MT have “watershed associations” like OR, WA and N. CA? They are a great source for stream/watershed restoration assistance — even for $ here in OR at least. The local Soil and Water Conservation District is also a good resource as is the County Extension Service. Start with whoever is most readily accessible to you and they should be able to point you in the right direction in terms of free consultative services as well as potential grants.

Thirty-five percent is a steep grade. There may not be a lot you can do besides stabilize the drop-off at the bottom and reclaim some of the land immediately around it. From what I’ve seen, drop offs tend to move upstream absent bedrock so stabilizing it will save ground, bank veg., soil, etc., upstream. Successful restoration/reclamation on streams can be expensive. I’d look into potential grant sources for sure. Also, I couldn’t tell from your description and I really don’t have any clue Re: your situation, but you may hear from the specialists that the stuff going on above and on your property is natural hydrologic process which may affect interest in “restoration”. The presence of listed aquatic species or habitat critical to the conservation of listed aquatic species would weigh in your favor interest and grant-wise.

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Response to KPN (Reply #12)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 07:09 PM

14. Thank you KPN. Yes, still in Montana.

This is a piece of land that sits with USFS on on side, BLM on another and a wildlife sanctuary on another. Those offices may just be our best bet. They all have something to gain or lose.

I will start making phone calls tomorrow.

Thank you very much.



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Response to GemDigger (Reply #14)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 07:58 PM

15. Hope it works out well for you.

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Response to KPN (Reply #15)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 08:00 PM

16. I am thinking it will.

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Response to GemDigger (Reply #14)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 11:33 PM

28. Yes, indeed. Talk with the folks in all those offices.

You might just find that you aren't allowed to do anything. Or at least not what you had in mind.

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Response to GemDigger (Original post)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 07:03 PM

13. Need more info

8 x 10 color glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one.

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Response to Nac Mac Feegle (Reply #13)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 08:04 PM

17. Heeheee. ... pictures of the approach, the getaway,

The northwest corner and the southwest corner, and that’s not to mention the aerial photography!

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Response to KPN (Reply #17)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 08:28 PM

21. I thought that a topo would be almost as bad as giving a street address.

The River and creek would be dead giveaways.

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Response to GemDigger (Reply #21)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 11:07 PM

25. Not a problem GemDigger. Those were lines from lyrics in Arlo Guthrie's classic 60's song

"Alice's Restaurant Massacree".

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Response to KPN (Reply #25)

Tue Jan 7, 2020, 11:20 AM

34. Geebers, as many times as I have heard that song

and it did not register.... I am laughing at myself here.

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Response to Nac Mac Feegle (Reply #13)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 08:14 PM

18. And the judge's seeing eye dog!

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Response to Ptah (Reply #18)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 11:07 PM

26. Blind Justice!

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Response to GemDigger (Original post)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 08:15 PM

19. What kind of

vegetation came down and what are the boulders like? Are the boulders rounded or jagged? Can they be used in constructing your catchments and incorporate the silt in the working like wattle? Maybe some of the reusable vegetation?

It sounds like you have a lot of materials right there.

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #19)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 08:26 PM

20. The vast majority are rounded.

A couple of good size trees, a lot of living brush and a lot of dead brush, a LOT of boulders. Looking for flat ones and setting them aside will be one heck of a first chore. I saw that clay and some kinds of unscented clumped cat litter would work as well. Edit: In some areas.

I will be using the bigger trees to aim the water into a mini dam for silt sediment (lots of mini dams). The smaller trees and brush placed in strategic locations.


It sounds like you have a lot of materials right there.
If they were flat there would be enough to build a stone wall 4' high around 20 acres. That many rocks. And not a damn one worth keeping. For a rock hound that is painful.

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Response to GemDigger (Reply #20)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 08:34 PM

22. Oh my!

Well, look at it this way...

All those rocks might not be keepers but that will make it so much easier to cover them up with mud and stuff and you won't be stopping to look at every other one! I had a hard time weening myself from looking for rocks at the farm last summer. Once the crop was established you couldn't see anything anymore but it was hard... I found some beauties when the canals were being cut! But I found at least one keeper every day without searching.

Well, if you've got lots of round rocks, they work for building too. I guess it's better to have too many than not enough?

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Response to 2naSalit (Reply #22)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 08:45 PM

23. I will kick, turn or rotate each one to make sure it isn't a keeper, providing it fits in the car.

One time with too damn much focus for one specific thing that I chucked something I should have kept. I went home and literally knocked my head on the wall for what I threw away when it dawned on me what it was (3 large industrial sapphires joined while looking for agate), went back the next day and spent 10 hours looking for it. Never found it. I hope I never do that again.

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Response to GemDigger (Reply #23)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 08:54 PM

24. Oh that would hurt!

I found all kinds of agates, a coupe big nodules! One was about 10lbs! I didn't see it right away, the grader pulled it up and it just looked like a dirty old rock until after a couple rains storms. With the dirt washed off the sun lit it right up. I saw it from about fifty feet away. And I had to carry it about 100 yards to my car, that took a while over fresh cut furrows.

The ones that get me are those that I can see in the river but can't reach or they're too big to carry.

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Response to GemDigger (Original post)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 11:25 PM

27. First thing I'd do

Check on your responsibilities regarding changing the environment. You don't want to incur a bunch of fines.

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Response to Bayard (Reply #27)

Tue Jan 7, 2020, 11:10 AM

31. Thanks Bayard. For sure.

There will be minimal change and a lot of restoration. No intention of digging up or moving the creek bed, just restoring the banks (native plants, shrubs and trees) and cleaning the creek of boulders and dead brush.

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Response to GemDigger (Original post)

Mon Jan 6, 2020, 11:33 PM

29. start with your local extension office

then the Natural Resources Conservation Service - they may be a source for design and funding.

try to form collaborative working groups with landowners upstream and other parts of the watershed. easier to get money and help if you are a group. local game and fish or Fed Fish and Wildlife service may be of help too, but careful of potential regulations and other impediments when going that route. I would also discourage Army Corps for same reasons.

Some environmental groups like The Nature Conservancy can be helpful (again careful of privacy and potential regulatory bs from them)

there are a number of private restoration companys out there. I can get names if you want. they are expensive but again, look into what the NRCS in your area has to say. good people on the ground with that agency and they work with private landowners. mostly geared to ag, but they generally will work with anybody.

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Response to Kali (Reply #29)

Tue Jan 7, 2020, 11:18 AM

33. Thank you Kali.

For anyone to get to this place would cost 2 arms and a leg, to say it is in the middle of nowhere would be an understatement.

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Response to GemDigger (Reply #33)

Tue Jan 7, 2020, 01:52 PM

35. that isn't a problem for most of the agencies/groups listed

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/water/manage/restoration/

https://quiviracoalition.org/land-and-water/

https://www.restoration-ecology.net/stream-restoration.html (don't know these guys but site looked interesting)

I think Tom is more about wetlands than streams but we are working with him on a project, and I know he works all over the place - http://www.wetlandrestorationandtraining.com/

don't know if Bill is still active (or even alive ) but he is really good, also for building roads that last and don't wash out -
Zeedyk Ecological Consulting, LLC
Bill Zeedyk, CWB
P.O. Box 574
Sandia Park, NM 87047
Phone: 505.281.9066
Cell: 505.220.6367


host a workshop and get the attendees to pay for the consulting, and volunteer to learn techniques on your demonstration project. all about the Tom Sawyer deals.

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Response to Kali (Reply #35)

Tue Jan 7, 2020, 02:25 PM

36. Thank you for all these great links.

The more information I get, the better the final decision will be. Luckily we still have a couple of months of winter to plan and plot this chore out, even more luckily if we don't get much more snow up there.

Thanks Kali.

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Response to GemDigger (Original post)

Tue Jan 7, 2020, 12:14 AM

30. When I was a kid you'd just throw a bunch of old crushed cars in there and hope for the best.

Chevron and Union Oil would sometimes do fancier, rocks and welded wire or chain-link, but not always.

In the place I grew up they are now sculpting concrete to look like rock, Disneyland style...

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Response to hunter (Reply #30)

Tue Jan 7, 2020, 11:14 AM

32. We have a few places like that around here

but it won't be this place. All natural with minimal man made materials.

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