Landowner uses willows to prevent bank erosion

Landowner uses willows to prevent bank erosion
Posted at 5:27 PM, Apr 02, 2021

HELENA — When you buy land you want to make sure you keep it, yet erosion from streams, rivers and lakes can make that difficult.

Helena landowner Tim Olds is turning to a conservation group for a little help.

Hearing stories about losing land to water is sadly commonplace in low-lying coastal areas like Louisiana, but not something would think about here in the Queen City of the Rockies.

“Even this spring, just since the ice went out we’ve lost three feet [of bank]. I own four acres that’s out in the lake that I’m paying taxes on that’s underwater,” said Olds

Olds owns property on Lake Helena. The one-two punch of ice and waves that crash into his formally dry bank is causing erosion, not just for him, but all along the north shore.

Jeff Ryan and the Lewis & Clark Conservation District is helping Olds change that.

Getting their start combating soil erosion concerns in the 1930’s, conservation districts – among other things - advise landowners on how to best use the natural resources on their property. In Olds’ case, they helped secure a grant to weave native willows into the eroding bank. which is a lot cheaper than rock and helps create some excellent habitat.

“It’s important for one thing because the landowner is losing his land that he’s paying taxes on and that’s important, but from a water quality standpoint we’re reducing sediment and turbidity in state water,” said Lewis & Clark Conservation District Supervisor Jeff Ryan. “Most of these projects occur on stream ways. We’ve got one coming up on Spokane Creek in a couple of weeks, and there it’s critically important because we’ve got a lot of spawning habitat affected if we get a lot of turbidity and sediment in the water.”

When this job is done, Ryan and his crew are hoping to keep the hard work going.

“That’s an easy answer, yes. In fact, we would like to get this whole north shore done if we can. Several landowners have contacted this landowner already with some interest. So we would hope to be able to get this entire shoreline done if possible,” said Ryan.

More information about the Lewis and Clark Conservation District can be found here.