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Planting Our Streambanks

In May, Bluegrass Greensource worked with several communities and property owners in the region to establish native streamside (riparian) buffers along key waterways. The riparian program is part of a larger effort to improve water quality within the Clarks Run and Hanging Fork watersheds in Boyle and Lincoln counties, and Hinkston Creek watershed in Bourbon, Montgomery, and Nicholas counties. Through a grant from the Kentucky Division of Water, Bluegrass Greensource was able to offer an 80/20 cost-share program for establishment of riparian buffers to eligible landowners and communities in the focus watersheds.

Vegetation along the edge of a stream is known as a riparian or streamside buffer and acts as a transition between water bodies and upland uses such as manicured lawns or agriculture. The buffers planted this spring are a combination of fast and slow growing trees, shrubs, grasses, and perennials from KY native nurseries in the area with widths ranging from 15 to 45 FT wide. Communities such as the City of Millersburg in Bourbon County and the City of Hustonville in Lincoln County were able to partner with local volunteers and school groups to plant between 600 and 800 plants each!

Maintenance will be crucial as these new plants fight to beat out their invasive competitors and weeds.  The ultimate goal of introducing a diverse selection of native species to these buffer zones is to hold soil in place and protect the streambanks from the removal of soil, rocks, and other woody materials. Streamside buffers have many other benefits, including trapping and filtering sediment and other pollutants from stormwater runoff, reducing flood damage, providing shade and habitat to streams, recharging groundwater sources, and improving the aesthetic value of landscapes.

Bluegrass Greensource partnered with County Cooperative Extension and Conservation District Offices to offer Saving Your Streambanks Workshops last fall. Participants learned about local watershed issues and water quality, the benefits of streamside buffers, how to plant and maintain a buffer, how to identify invasive species and methods for removal, and financial assistance options available for streamside improvements, including State Cost Share funding through the Conservation District, and EQIP funding through the Natural Resource Conservation Service.
These projects will serve as a great example in these communities, for best practices along streams, and the different techniques that can be used to help save our streambanks at home and as a community. For more information on this program, contact Lindsie Nicholas at lindsie@bgreensource.org.

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