Thursday, March 25, 2021

Cub Scouts Help Improve Streambank While Learning About Erosion Issues From Snyder County Conservation District

On a recent sunny Saturday morning, a group of Selinsgrove Cub Scouts from Pack 3419’s Wolf Den huddled around Snyder County Conservation District Manager Jason Winey for instructions on how to collect and prepare live stakes of silky dogwood plants.

“What we’re doing may just look like cutting down and collecting sticks, but if I push this in the soft ground along a streambank, in a couple of weeks, you’ll see a leaf growing off it and by the end of summer, a new silky dogwood plant will be growing,” said Winey.

The Scouts, with assistance from parents, then tackled a large patch of silky dogwoods along a small creek on the grounds of the Middlecreek Antique Association near the Snyder County Prison armed with loppers, hand shears and empty buckets.

“In areas where streambanks are eroding and dirt is washing into the stream, we place a number of these stakes and the new silky dogwood plants grow a root structure that helps hold the bank together,” Winey said. “We have a homeowner just a couple miles away who has a stream encroaching into her yard and one way to slow that process is to plant these stakes there and allow them to establish a good root structure.”

Not all plants can be transplanted via the live stake method, he added.

“You’re not going to cut an oak branch and be able to do this, but typically the species that do work well with this method are those typically found in wetter streambank areas,” he said. “Silky dogwoods do especially well along streambanks in wetter soil.”

Winey has partnered with groups such as those at Susquehanna University where massive amounts of live stakes are collected and planted at various points throughout the region. The project with this particular group of Cub Scouts had a more immediate impact.

“A lot of time, we’ll want these very uniform because we are boxing them and storing them for certain projects with bigger groups,” he said. “However, the stakes we are collecting today will be put into the ground in just a few days along the creek bank of the local landowner.”

The stakes were stored in buckets, point-side down, in damp sawdust to keep them fresh until planted on Wednesday.

“The fact that this project had a direct impact on a local property instilled a sense of pride in the boys since they knew they were helping make a difference in someone’s life,” said Marissa Crames, one of the group’s leaders who had originally reached out to the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association for ideas for a service project. “I was amazed at how educational it was not only for the Scouts, but for the adults as well.”

The project helped the boys complete their World Conservation Award, however, they got a lot more out of the experience, Crames admitted.

“The boys all went home bragging about the project and what they had learned,” she said. “Parents told me later that day their kids were still asking more questions and wanting to learn more about erosion and the effect it has on our environment.”

For more information about live staking options in your region, contact your local county conservation district. The Penn State Extension also developed this how-to video session about live staking.

Visit the Middle Susquehanna RiverKeeper website for more information on programs, initiatives, upcoming events and how to get involved.

(Reprinted from Middle Susquehanna RiverKeeper Blog.)

[Posted: March 25, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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