High, fast water a couple of years ago caused some erosion problems along the stream just under the road up to Devil’s Lake State Park’s Northern Lights & Ice Age Campgrounds. The solution came just this last week with truckloads of boulders. If you’ve visited the park in the last week or so, you may have noticed the new rocks. When I posted a couple of pictures on social media it became clear that some folks thought this was a pretty heavy-handed and well, ugly solution. What do you think?
Well, I that had me wondering if this was indeed the only solution. With what little I know about erosion and hydrology, I have learned that this sort of erosion was caused by the water of the stream undercutting the hill bottom up, not water pouring down from the top. If that is the case, maybe boulders could be placed at the bottom along the stream, but the earth restored above? I also started wondering how invasive brush that eventually will fill grow through every gap in the stones would be managed. It’s important to note that you can’t simply spray along a stream bed.
With a bit of research I was able to see there that actually are many restorative erosion control methods available that don’t involve simply dumping boulders down the bank. One great solution may have been a product such as GREENAX® a reinforced erosion control and revegetation mesh, may have done the trick. Other solutions from terracing & sediment traps to water permeable polymers may have been called for. A quick search of the web turns up a variety of companies that specialize in exactly the sort of slope stabilization needed here.
Some folks commented that the state parks these days simply don’t have any money to fix things properly. That’s certainly a valid consideration. Volunteers are counted on more than ever to get work done within the parks. On the other hand, my feeling is that as a tourism attraction, fixing things properly and aesthetically need to be a priority. It’s that old, “Spend Money To Make Money” adage. We can’t just “slap on some paint” any time there’s an issue. Besides, there are other stakeholders including the local friends group that may be able to help fund more costly repairs in the park.
We spend a lot of time bragging that Devil’s Lake State Park is Wisconsin’s “Premiere” State Park. We should probably come at every problem with that viewpoint. Maintenance & repairs can’t be ugly. If they were, we would have no need for body shops. We’d just fix our dented & scratched cars with a can of Krylon™! (Oh wait, I may have done that before!)
***Obligatory Disclaimer: This website is NOT associated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The views expressed in this blog are mine and do not represent the views of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.