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Utilization of Soil Bioengineering Techniques and Anchored Reinforced Vegetation

Systems to Control Streambank Erosion along Pasture Land in West Virginia

Dennis A. Burns, Certified Conservation Planner
Adam Merritt, Certified Conservation Planner
Harry Huff, Certified Conservation Planner

Abstract
An Anchored Reinforced Vegetation System (ARVS) incorporates the combination of a
geosynthetic, high strength woven, High Performance Turf Reinforcement Mat and Earth Percussion
Anchors and is a system designed to provide erosion protection and armoring in the most critical of
applications. Unlike traditional hard armoring techniques, this system is light weight, does not surcharge
weak foundation soils, and is easy to maintain without heavy equipment and personnel. (Thompson,
Propex, Inc.) These systems have been traditionally utilized in non-agricultural situations including the
Gordy Pumping Station by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans after being breached by
Hurricane Katrina, as well as sites along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and by the New York and California
Departments of Transportation.
Soil bioengineering is the use of live and dead herbaceous and woody plant materials in
combination with natural and synthetic support materials for slope stabilization, erosion reduction, and
vegetative establishment (NRCS). Although often thought of as a new technology, these practices have
been used for many years, as early as the 1930’s by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). This paper will
present demonstration projects conducted by the West Virginia Conservation Agency to control excess
streambank soil erosion along pasture land, by utilizing a combination of Anchored Reinforced Vegetation
and Soil Bioengineering techniques.

Utilization of Soil Bioengineering Techniques and Anchored Reinforced Vegetation Systems to Control Streambank Erosion along
Pasture Land in West Virginia
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swimming and fishing holes being filled. 12” pins and 24” earth anchors were placed on frequency and spacing to tie down the TRM. such as widening. all banks were sloped to either 2:1 or 3:1. the product is designed for approximately a 50 year lifespan in which it will break down by 75%. The two major factors causing excessive erosion are alteration of the stream channels and stream-bank. This sediment results in the increased cost of treating drinking water. buildings. Methodology To install the systems.Introduction Thousands of streams and rivers in WV and the nation have problems with severely eroded banks. the destruction of fish and wildlife habitat. including road construction. pins were used to prevent high water from floating the TRM. especially trees and shrubs. This was typically a diamond pattern for the anchors and as needed with the pins to prevent tenting.5 % per year (Propex & Chang). no fertilizer was used and compost was spread overtop of the Turf Reinforcement Mat (TRM). Utilization of Soil Bioengineering Techniques and Anchored Reinforced Vegetation Systems to Control Streambank Erosion along Pasture Land in West Virginia 2 . While one of the advantages of the polypropylene fiber is its longevity. or 1. soil. This system installed with earth anchors has a field tested pull out capacity of 500 lbs with a minimum of 24 inch depth. Generally these materials consist of uniquely shaped polypropylene fiber yarn woven into a turf reinforcement mat. This soil erosion generates hundreds of thousands of tons of sediment and is considered the largest water quality problem in the U. Human activities that contribute to the problem. Demonstrates the diamond shape pattern of earth anchor placement for ARVS (Geosynthetic Limited) The earth anchors were installed by a rod fitted with the anchor being driven through the TRM approximately 24”. lawns. natural resource extraction and even small things such as lawn landscaping can contribute to erosion. and roads. Figure 1. This is known as anchored reinforced vegetation systems. and the removal of vegetation. and seed. and trees being uprooted allowing dangerous undercuts to be created on stream-banks.S. In recent years technology has been developed utilizing geosynthetic materials and earth anchors to stabilize failing and newly graded slopes. The cable attached to the anchor was then pulled allowing it to set parallel to the soil surface. A secure plate was then cinched down through the cable tight against the soil surface. All seams overlapped approximately 6 inches. Seed and fertilizer was applied to the slopes at appropriate rates to the site. high stream flows result in more frequent out-of- bank events and redirected water often threatens homes. Where compost was available. Edge trenches were installed longitudinal on the first and the last rolls of the project. or moving. pipelines. The unique shape allows the matrix to capture and retain moisture. along stream banks. railroads. Damages from flooding can worsen when the stream fills with earth reducing water holding capacity. farm fields. TRM’s were unrolled in a shingling manor starting at the downstream end of the eroded banks. deepening. Where trees were planted into the system. Either tree revetments or fiber roles were installed at the toe of the slopes to protect it and anchor turf reinforcement mats. agriculture. This allows plenty of time for root systems to establish and develop a natural vegetation reinforcement system. A copper sleeve was then crimped to hold the plate in place.

The soil on this site is a Potomac very gravelly fine sandy loam with a tolerable (T) soil loss rate of 3 tons per acre/year and an erodibility factor (K) of . Greenbrier County The first site is located on the Greenbrier and Pocahontas county line. Demonstrates the anchoring process utilized to secure the TRM in ARVS (Geosynthetic Limited) In order to calculate the soil loss and efficiency of the system. When the RUSLE was calculated prior to re-vegetation.31 tons (37. the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE) was used to determine soil loss by sheet and rill erosion. A tree revetment utilizing on-site materials and rock from a local quarry was used to stabilize the toe of the bank and anchor Utilization of Soil Bioengineering Techniques and Anchored Reinforced Vegetation Systems to Control Streambank Erosion along Pasture Land in West Virginia 3 . commercially known as the Armor-Max system. After the area was sloped. These figures were calculated using the formula for determining the volume of a pyramid (area of base X 1/3 the height). At this site Anthony Creek was eroding an area of pasture land at a rate of 30.01 after instillation and vegetation establishment. Efficiency of the system was calculated by the percent difference soil lost before and after the system was installed. This soil was placed in an upland location and stabilized from future erosion.24. the results were similar enough to that of the volume of a pyramid that it was decided the RUSLE could be used as the efficiency indicator for the system.30 cubic yards) of unstable soil from the streambank. To calculate the soil the soil volume that would erode if the site would not have been treated. Site Specifics and Results Anthony Creek.6 tons of soil per year according to the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation.Figure 2. the volume of the area was estimated from landowner information about how much land is being lost each year.00 before practice instillation and 0. removing 50. During construction. several different calculations were used. the stream- bank was sloped to a 2:1 grade. Eroded streambank being sloped 2:1 TRM being applied in a shingling manor over the streambank with tree revetment installed at the toe of the slope The site is 170 feet long and was stabilized using a high performance turf reinforcement mat (TRM) and earth anchor system. C values used for the RUSLE were 1.

98 per square yard. 462 tons of soil was placed back into the bends of the stream to re-establish the original pattern of the channel. Seedling trees were planted into the TRM. The total site length is 300 feet and was stabilized using two types of erosion control devices. The total site covered 2. This cost broken down equals $4.5 tons per acre.96 per square foot. To achieve the same soil loss results for this project utilizing rip-rap. Utilizing the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE). the total cost of the project would have been $6.35. Coconut fiber logs were installed at the toe of the slopes to anchor the bottom of the mats and to prevent undercutting of the system. commercially known as the Armor-Max system was used in the 90 foot section of the bank that receives the most stress from high water.97 tons of rock and twice as much labor. the overall efficiency of the system would reduce by 26. A high performance turf reinforcement mat (TRM) and earth anchor system. To achieve the same soil loss results for this project utilizing Rip Rap.71 tons per year (98.the TRM. this would have cost $4.91% less than before initialization). This cost broken down equals $7.37 tons per acre per year. Utilizing 51.69 per square foot. this would have cost $9.35% and the cost would reduce to $1. On this site. compost was utilized to cover the TRM and both over top and underneath of the mat. The soil on this site is a Gilpin- Upshur complex with a tolerable (T) soil loss rate of 3 tons per acre/year and an erodibility factor (K) of . 32. Grass was then seeded to establish permanent cover.33 tons per year (98.37 per square yard. This would not be enough protection to bring the soil loss for the site to tolerable a level. The remaining 210 feet were covered with a straw rolled erosion control blanket. If all factors of the installed system stayed constant excluding the TRM and included hay mulch at .22 per square foot or $64.552.15 per square foot or $37. Utilizing 183 tons of rock and twice as much labor.144. Another comparison was also conducted to determine the effect of the TRM on the overall system. the new soil loss rate after the instillation of these practices is . the new soil loss rate after the installation of these practices is .021. the streambank was sloped to a 3:1 grade removing unstable soil from the streambank.12.222 square feet and cost $9. TRM being folded over in the trench on the up stream Compost being spread over the TRM to provide organic end of the eroded streambank matter and encourage seed germination Cow Creek. Utilization of Soil Bioengineering Techniques and Anchored Reinforced Vegetation Systems to Control Streambank Erosion along Pasture Land in West Virginia 4 . the total cost of the project would have been $11. Utilizing the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation.228.75 per square foot. According to the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation.47% difference than before initialization). the annual soil loss for the site would be 8.75. The total site covered 630 square feet and cost $4. grass was planted.65. Pleasants County In Pleasants County. Cow Creek was eroding an area of pasture land at a rate of 41 tons of soil per year according to the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE).

91 30.23 1.5 Filter Fabric @ $784 Labor @ $6. (H) Hypothetical situation lb of Soil Loss Soil Loss Soil soil Cost % saved Site Per LS LS C C P P Tons/Year Tons/Year Difference Saved per Afte Afte Afte SqFt SqFt Before r Before r Before r Before After Tons/Year T/Y SqFt Sloping. indicated the cost of system as it relates to the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation to determine the overall efficiency of the practices for the site located at Anthony Creek.85 0.6 0. Tree Revertments.69 0.27 1.15 0.91 30.93 1 0. ARVS.33 98.01 1 1 30.25 1 1 30.27 1.91 30. Tree 222 Planting 2 $1.6 0.234.27 1.6 8.85 0.96 0. 222 Tree Planting 2 $3.93 1 0.65 22.02 Segment Total System Just Materials 222 (ARVS) 2 $2.85 0.93 1 0.39 222 (H) Rip Rap 2 $4.85 0.6 0. The Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation was then used to determine the soil loss before and after bank treatment post sloping. Discussion When determining the overall efficiency of the practices. ARVS.08 0.01 1 1 30.93 1 0. Severity of erosion on Cow Creek.27 1. Tree Revertments.25 Rip Rap Cost 183 tons @ $23.91 30.01 1 1 30. ARVS actually installed was compared to hypothetical rip-rap and mulching practices on the same site where the ARVS was installed. typical to ARVS used in a high stress bend in the stream and sites where soil bioengineering and ARVS coconut fiver logs used to protect the toe of the bank can be beneficial. C factors for ARVS and rip-rap was assumed to be the same as established annual rye grass) Utilization of Soil Bioengineering Techniques and Anchored Reinforced Vegetation Systems to Control Streambank Erosion along Pasture Land in West Virginia 5 .37 72.39 (H) Rip Rap Just 222 Materials 2 $2. Tree 222 Planting 2 $4.33 98.33 98.93 1 0.39 (H) Sloping.39 (H) Sloping.33 98.85 0.6 0.07 0.01 1 1 30. The percent difference is utilized as a percent efficiency of the practice.000 (factors utilized for the RUSLE were taken out of charts found in the CPESC training manual.10 per ton = $4. Figure 3.

Additional research and demonstration work may need to be conducted to determine other TRM material that can be utilized in these types of systems and different seed mixtures should be experimented with to determine the most effective. aesthetic and increased safety values that cannot be calculated monetarily.2vs. the expense of the system may be enough to deter a landowner from working without government cost share and lead them to utilizing a less effective system. The ability to hold soil at the same efficiency as a rip-rap system and also establish an effective riparian buffer could be the most attractive trait of the anchored reinforced vegetation system.5% more expensive. The anchoring system reduces the total weight and compaction on the stream bank soil allowing for proper root growth and diversity of vegetation establishment. but there are also habitat. Rip-rap on the other hand is just as effective on soil erosion as ARVS but is 19. compares the cost per square foot to the overall soil loss after the practices are implemented for the site located at Anthony Creek While significantly less expensive than ARVS and rip-rap. In addition. thus prevent a high biological oxygen demand. This also reduces the likelihood of algae blooms in the pool adjacent to the practice. the ability to plant trees into the system allows a canopy to overhang the stream reducing sunlight and cooling the water to allow for higher dissolved oxygen potential and improved fish habitat. and enhance traditional soil bioengineering techniques. While the cost figures for this demonstration may have been arbitrarily high due to the equipment used. it is believed that by using smaller equipment that the total cost Utilization of Soil Bioengineering Techniques and Anchored Reinforced Vegetation Systems to Control Streambank Erosion along Pasture Land in West Virginia 6 . Additionally the lack of labor and equipment necessary to install this system makes it ideal for the agricultural community which traditionally has limited resources to work with. water quality. 6 9 Cost/ft. ARVS also provides the ability to vegetate with trees to develop habitat and shade over the stream. Rip-rap and ARVS both provide immediate protection against mass erosion and sheet erosion if a sudden high water event would occur before vegetation is established. While ARVS are less expensive that traditional rip-rap. mulch on the Anthony Creek site would have been 26.2 4 Soil Loss 2 3 2 Tons/Year 1 1 0 0 ARVS Rip-Rap Mulch Figure 4. Conclusion Anchored Reinforced Vegetation Systems provide an economical alternative to rip-rap. Not only does the TRM provide immediate protection from sheer stress of overland and concentrated water flow. Soil Loss 8 5 7 4 6 5 3 Cost/ft.26 % less effective and still not have reduced erosion to tolerable levels.

USDA NRCS Plant Materials Program C. USDA Forest Service Randy Thompson. Channels and Repair of Shallow Plane Failures. References Chris Hoag. A Soil Bioengineering Guide for Streambank and Lakeshore Stabilization. Pyramat High Preformance Turf Reinforcement Mats Chang. Propex Memo CPESC Exam Review Study Guide. Installation Guidelines for ArmorMax Anchored Reinforced Vegetation System Propex. Propex Inc Geosynthetics Limited. Nevertheless. Ellen Eubanks. national origin. Dexter Meadows. Anchored Reinforced Vegetation Systems for Armoring Levees. Jon Fripp. color. Streambank Soil Bioengineering Field Guide for Low Precipitation Areas. 2007 Funding was provided through Section 319 from the US EPA. more demonstration is needed to come to this conclusion. Utilization of Soil Bioengineering Techniques and Anchored Reinforced Vegetation Systems to Control Streambank Erosion along Pasture Land in West Virginia 7 .of the ARVS could be cut almost in half. Desigh Life Information Woven 2nd Generation TRM/HPTRM. The West Virginia nonpoint source program does not discriminate on the basis of race. gender or handicap. Shorelines.