Large trunks, root balls will be removed

Although there are still piles of branches on the steep slope above Texas Creek, they have been spread out to trap moisture and slow erosion.Photo by Marcy Stamper

Although there are still piles of branches on the steep slope above Texas Creek, they have been spread out to trap moisture and slow erosion.Photo by Marcy Stamper

By Marcy Stamper

Okanogan County Public Works crews have done more erosion-prevention work and cleaned up related debris from trees that had been deposited on steep slopes above Texas Creek, according to Okanogan County Engineer Josh Thomson.

The piles of branches and smaller tree trunks are being incorporated into the soil with the teeth of an excavator to help stabilize the slope. Larger trees and root wads, which were too big for this purpose and should not have been placed there, will be removed, said Thomson.

Incorporating organic matter into the sandy soil on steep slopes is a good way to stabilize the slopes, since the small pieces of vegetation will slow the rate of permeation and reduce erosion, said Thomson. There is sparse vegetation on some of the hills above the creek, but when a slope is extremely steep, plants have trouble taking root, he said. Reducing the sloughing of the soil will encourage growth of vegetation, said Thomson.

The large piles of brush and root wads that had been deposited over the embankment during the past few weeks are “definitely not what it will look like” when finished, said Thomson.

The cut trees and branches come from a project on nearby Vintin Road, where the county is improving drainage and making parts of the road less steep, said Thomson.

Area residents had expressed concern about the debris deposited on the hillside and said the trunks and branches had uprooted some existing shrubs. After a confidential complaint was made to the Washington Department of Ecology on April 25, an Ecology Shorelands specialist talked to Thomson about the situation.

As a result of the complaint, an officer from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) surveyed the area last week to see if any debris was getting into the creek. Because the creek does not have any fish in it and does not flow into a fish-bearing waterway, WDFW determined there were no violations of the state law that protects fish.

The Ecology representative and Thomson discussed best-management practices for dealing with erosion and disposal of vegetation and how the county will handle similar situations in the future, according to Joye Redfield-Wilder, communications manager for Ecology. Counties and other local jurisdictions have the authority to develop their own management practices, she said.