On February 28 & 29th, volunteers participated in an innovative willow staking project along a stretch of riverbank in Lower Meramec Park. On Friday, volunteers harvested, cut and prepared 660 willow stakes. The willows were cut into 18″ stakes and then soaked overnight in buckets of water. The following day, volunteers planted the willow stakes along 10,000 square feet of riverbank.
A small selection of the stakes were added to last year’s willow staking site to fill in gaps between existing willow stakes and the rest of the willows were staked in a new site farther down the trail. This section of previously barren riverbank will be monitored by our partners at St. Louis County Parks in the coming year – so stay tuned for updates! To learn more about the process and why willows are used for stabilizing banks, read our previous blog post.
We were also excited to have several volunteers from our 2019 willow staking events join us again this year. Among them were Paul Crombie and Terry Wolf.
Paul, a Missouri Master Naturalist, grew up night fishing with his father, an experience that connected him to the river and fostered a lifelong desire to steward it. “Ecological repairs have to start somewhere, and we need to use what we have,” he says. “Using native riparian vegetation to make repairs to a riparian ecosystem is as poetic as it is practical.”
Terry has piloted her own willow staking project on her property along the Huzzah Creek, planting 150 willow stakes from the Missouri Department of Conservation. Though flooding seems to have impacted them, a few did sprout last year, and she plans to check on them later this year. “I enjoy volunteering for environmental projects,” she says of participating in OSC’s willow staking project. “These events are unique opportunities to learn about as well as contribute to stream bank restoration…It’s amazing how much a few motivated people can accomplish!”
A huge thanks to our volunteers and a special thanks to Great Rivers Greenway District, St. Louis County Parks, American Water Charitable Foundation and Open Space Council members for their support of this project.