Reducing surface erosion on bare, steep slopes is getting a boost from a well-known construction technique: straw and seed. Nicoterra Trails is pursuing simplified ways of greening up the construction work of trail crews with the idea of saving soil, building organic base, and getting plants re-established. All of this in a forest canopy with little sunlight. Without it, natural re-vegetation is a very slow process and apt to include invasive weeds adding more maintenance for trail crews.
At Duthie Hill, we started recently providing pro bono services with the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance and King County Department of Natural Resources to experiment with materials and methods that may help trail crews. I am truely jazzed by the support for this pilot project and will be reporting on results this spring.
This particular landing is on lower HLC. I covered both sides of this landing with 100 pounds of wood straw and 2-3 pounds of wheat seed. The straw – provided by Forest Concepts of Auburn is from conifers and is broadcast by hand at 80% coverage on steep slopes. The manufacturer often works with the US Forest Service in providing this material for restoration on forest fire burn sites. Now mountain bikers will see its color on the trail prisim. The sterile wheat seed – provided by Rainier Seeds of Davenport is being used as a one season anchoring to enable other forest plants to begin their natural. While you can’t see the wheat seed, it germinates readily in wet forest conditions.
Coming up with simple logistics will be the trick in getting these products on severe erosion prone sites: a small bag of seed in the pack and a 20 pound load of wood straw on a rear carrier is one suggestion.