Blue Creek Stabilization Area
Paulding County, OH

Grantee: Paulding Soil and Water Conservation District
Basin Program Funds: $10,000
Non-federal Funds: $33,033
Project Duration: 04/1995 - 12/1997
Status: complete

Problem Statement
Land drainage practices in the Maumee River and Blue Creek watersheds have caused excessive erosion and sedimentation, creating severe water quality problems in some parts of the watersheds. The Blue Creek watershed is one of the most erosive in the Maumee River watershed. During public meetings held in 1994, landowners, local and state public officials and state agency personnel supported vegetative streambank erosion control as one solution to the deteriorating condition of Blue Creek.

The Blue Creek watershed drains 67,000 acres, and has 37 miles of main stream and more than 200 miles of modified open ditches. The main stream itself has a very flat grade, and the extremely crooked nature of the creek results in continuous erosion and sedimentation. Wide, grassed berms that had been established and maintained by landowners in the area have fallen into the creek at a rapid rate, leaving half of the main streambanks devoid of any vegetation. This results in thousands of tons of new sediment entering Blue Creek each year, which increases water quality degradation. Past drainage projects did not properly assess the hydrology of the watershed in their design, which has left Blue Creek as one of the most erosive water courses in the Maumee River watershed.

The purpose of the Blue Creek Stabilization Demonstration project is to show the viability of vegetative streambank stabilization as an alternative to rock channel lining. This will demonstrate that erosion and sedimentation can be controlled at a reduced cost, while maintaining habitat and water quality. This project will be a starting point for other vegetative stabilization projects that are needed along a 20-mile stretch of Blue Creek, as well as for other ditch maintenance projects throughout Paulding County. The project area will also be used as a field study site for an educational program involving both the land users and county high school students. The intent of this information/education component is to increase awareness of the linkage between land uses, drainage techniques, soil erosion, and their impacts on water quality in the Blue Creek and Maumee River watersheds.

Dry conditions and low stream flow allowed for successful completion of all phases of construction in 1995. All eroded streambank slopes (1:1-0:1) were excavated to 2:1 slopes prior to final finish and application of seed, plant materials, and experimental materials. In all, 5,000 linear feet were treated in an area of five stream miles in length. In addition, 1,800 pounds of grass was seeded on ditch slopes, berms, and disturbed areas totaling 45 acres along the creek.

After seeding, six different types of mulch netting were laid down and stapled to the toe of the slope at various locations for a study of effectiveness. One area was hydro-seeded with wood cellulose mulch. Next, 1,550 Bankers willows and 2,770 Streamco willows were planted in three rows, three feet apart in the toe of the slope.

The project area was utilized for engineering and conservation education programs before, during and after construction of the area. Activities included:

  • Participation of three area school districts (275 students). Twelve classroom presentations were given as well as two field presentations.

  • The site hosted a Two Day Joint Agency Stream Management Workshop conducted by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There were approximately 31 in attendance from the Ohio EPA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR), area Soil and Water Conservation District and area county engineers.

  • The district's congressional representative visited the site.

  • As part of an Ohio DNR/SWCD Technical Tour, 40 participants from ten northwest Ohio County SWCD's visited the site.

  • All phases of the project have been videotaped with hopes of producing a complete story and "Do it Yourself" video.

  • Operation Greenstripe allowed students to evaluate the need for filter strips for erosion control.

The severe 1995-96 winter conditions damaged the mulch netting; however, there was little erosion and most of the willows remained. In a normal year, the netting would have helped to establish a solid seeding at the toe of the slope. But the possibility of extreme weather always exists and for that reason alone, the netting as a replacement for permanent channel lining, such as rock, is risky.

The willow plantings have proven to be very resilient and tough. Cuttings transplanted from local stock have proven more effective than using commercially supplied cuttings. The new willow plantings established through this grant provides the SWCD a good nursery from which fresh cuttings can be taken and transplanted as dormant sticks, which will be easier than planting rooted plants.

The SWCD plans to continue to use vegetative methods to control erosion on Blue Creek. Other methods such as willow posting and brush revetments will be used, as well as hard practices such as rock rip-rap.

Through the life of the project, this demonstration will save approximately 1,500 tons of soil. In addition, more than 300 people were shown the techniques used as the stabilization area through classroom and filed demonstrations, workshops, and site visits. Those benefitting from these educational efforts included students, other Ohio SWCD personnel, an Ohio congressional representative, and representatives from agencies such as the Ohio EPA, Ohio DNR, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Department of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Contact: Tim Franklin, (419) 399-4771


Great Lakes Commission des Grands Lacs.  2805 S. Industrial Highway, Suite 100.  Ann Arbor, MI  48104-6791.  phone: 734/971.9135.  fax: 734/971-9150. Join the Friends of the Great Lakes GLIN Partner