Crooked Creek Restoration

As shown previously in the drone video, Crooked Creek has areas of high erosion. This restoration project was the result of the flooding event in February 2018, where many stream banks across this arm of Crooked Creek suffered from severe erosion and scouring. To understand how the stream banks were restored, we need to learn about Bioengineering Methods!bank stabilization fiber blanket

There are a few ways to restore a stream bank, depending on the slope, natural terrain, and size of stream.  The goal is to restore the bank to its natural state with a sustainable design approach. Bioengineering techniques are sustainable since they utilize creative, nature-inspired design for restoration. If a small stream has minor erosion issues, bioengineering methods such as the ones shown here are used. Replacing the damaged or missing material with similar, natural material and reinforcement will allow the bank to restore to stronger than its original strength. 

Specifically, biodegradable reinforcement, like coconut fiber rolls shown here, and live native plants are used to properly stabilize the stream bank. This particular bioengineering method uses biodegradable fiber blankets and live native plants that will anchor their roots into the stream bank, helping prevent further erosion. Over time, the mature plants will create a strong, stable stream bank.

In the case of a large stream or a stream that carries large rain events, reinforcement is key to the restoration process. The image below was taken of the Crooked Creek after the large rain event in February 2018.  The steep stream bank eroded due to the rush of storm water and debris that was carried in the bank stabilization - toe of slopemass flow. Crooked Creek flows through farm fields in south Porter County. The farmer that owned this particular property was concerned and worked with the Department for restoration. The Department designed this restoration with the stream bank with the methods shown here. To stabilize the steep stream bank, soil was added to smooth the slope, and coconut fiber rolls were installed with the biodegradable mesh for reinforcement and sustainability. To restore vegetation, fiber blanket and native plants were added over top. The final reinforcement added to the toe of slope was riprap, loose stone used to form a foundation that protects the bottom of bank from the force of high volume flows.

As seen in the Crooked Creek Bank Stabilization: Bioengineering Methods video, the native grasses grew in full and covered the riprap bank reinforcement. The bank restoration project was a success, not only healthy and beautiful, but also functional and strong! 

Watch the video below to see Crooked Creek from Winter 2020 where County Engineer Michael Novotney explains the restoration process.

In summary, stream restoration protects adjacent properties, public infrastructure, and aquatic ecosystems. Bioengineering bank stabilization is a process for naturally restoring stream banks. The bioengineering method used for this arm of Crooked Creek used fiber blankets and live plants which anchor themselves via roots to the stream bank. The fiber blanket is biodegradable, and plants will mature over time to create a strong, stable stream bank!