By Nate Smith
Washington Times Herald
WASHINGTON — The Natural Resources Conservation Service has ensured Prairie Creek will be around for another 60 years thanks to a project on the channel.
Throughout the month of October, NRCS, along with the Prairie Creek Conservancy District and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources created a series of bendway weirs along a small portion of the creek near CR 225W.
“We believe this project is a unique application for the project area,” NRCS District Conservationist Randy Van Matre said.
A bendway weir is a series of berms created by rock and in set at an angle along the natural curve of the river.
The weirs act as barriers that stop the eroision of the river bank, but allow the flow of water through the creek. It looks like a series of ripples made of rock along the top of the water.
The creek was damaged in the floods of 2011, and parts of the creek were damaged by further erosion. To limit the damage, NRCS engineers and contractors created a key way and used rock to create a new shoreline where the damage occurred. The pumphouse near the creek was also repaired.
“A unique cooperative agreement between (Prairie Creek Conservancy District) and NRCS allowed remaining excess funding from the previous project to be used to install this demonstration project,” Van Matre said.
Thus, the bendway weirs. Around the weirs, a series of grasses were planted, along with straw erosion control blankets and a series of willows and dogwoods.
The DNR supervised the planting, along with the help of volunteers Duffy Stradtner and Pete Ryan.
Van Matre said this area is not the only one in need of the weirways along the Prairie Creek.
“We know of several sites upstream from this location that might benefit from this type of approach,” Van Matre said.
In the spring, NRCS will be working with conservation districts and local farmers on projects to keep farmland at its highest potential. Locally, the Daviess County Soil and Water Conservation District is planning to hold its 71st annual meeting on Feb. 21 at the Eastside Park Community Building.
Tickets are $7 and can be purchased by any SWCD member. For more information, contact the SWCD office at 254-4780, ext. 3.