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NOEL -- The Nature Conservancy of Missouri, in partnership with several local landowners, has been advancing construction on a project to stabilize 1,600 feet of eroding stream bank on the Elk River in McDonald County. Working with the Department of Natural Resources, the Conservancy is applying innovative bio-engineering techniques to not only stabilize continued erosion but also to improve habitat for fish and wildlife and downstream recreation.

Upstream changes in land use and increased heavy rainfall events have accelerated the pattern of significant erosion to the stream bank, resulting in an estimated 150,000 tons of soil lost from the site in the past 20 years. Erosion in the Elk River system carries excessive nutrients and sediment into Lake St. Clair in Noel, places increased stress on downstream infrastructure and diminishes the aquatic habitat that many freshwater species rely upon.

"While erosion and deposition of sediment is part of the natural dynamics of healthy streams, severe bank erosion is a widespread problem in many Ozark streams due to upstream development," according to Drew Holt, the Conservancy's Western Ozark waters coordinator. Addressing excessive stream bank erosion is part of a healthy watershed approach promoted by the Conservancy's Western Ozark Waters Initiative since its launch in 2015.

Natural State Streams, the contractor for the project, is optimistic about the progress to date.

"Working on a river this size involving so much earth moving presents many challenges, but favorable weather has allowed the project to progress as scheduled," said Josh Duzan, project manager with Natural State Streams LLC. "It's great to see natural channel design principals applied and constructed on such a large scale. We've moved over 40,000 cubic yards of gravel and installed 6,000 tons of rock and over 120 large hardwood trees with root wads during construction to restore and protect this stream bank. After years of planning, it's exciting to see everything come together."

Tackling a project of this scale has the inherent risk of setbacks and even continued bank failure after construction. The Nature Conservancy and partners hired a highly experienced engineering firm for complete design-build services for the project to maximize the opportunity for success. In addition, a plan and commitment for long-term maintenance and repair is in place. The investment of the Conservancy, the landowners and the involved partners in an engineering grade bio-engineered stream bank stabilization project on the site represents the best chance for long-term success in stabilizing the stream section and protecting a natural asset for the community.

Further, the restoration advances learning surrounding stream bank restoration practices and associated cost-share programs throughout the state and beyond. The Conservancy will be hosting demonstration field days for community leaders, private landowners and other stakeholders to view the stream bank project and to discuss the nature-based methods used.

A portion of project funds comes from the support of Tyson Foods. Since 2015, Tyson Foods has supported The Nature Conservancy to advance water quality efforts on the Buffalo River and Kings River in northwest Arkansas and the Elk River and Spring River in southwest Missouri.

For more information about this project, visit

About The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, it creates innovative, on-the-ground solutions to the world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. It is tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainability and helping make cities more sustainable.

Working in 72 countries, the Conservancy uses a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector and other partners. Together with its members and conservation partners, The Nature Conservancy of Missouri has protected more than 150,000 acres of critical lands in Missouri since 1956. To learn more about its work, visit

General News on 03/08/2018

Print Headline: Bio-engineered Stream-bank Stabilization on the Elk River

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