The second phase of a project to address severe stream bank erosion along stretches of the Tongue River was recently completed by the Game and Fish and other partners.
Phase 1 of the Tongue River Corridor Rehabilitation Project was led by the Sheridan County Conservation District in 2013 and 2014 and included an assessment of problem areas along the Tongue River.
Phase 2 involved rehabilitating close to 750 feet of eroded stream bank on the south side of the river, just west of the Town of Dayton, which will improve fish habitat and water quality as well as reduce property damage due to bank erosion.
“There have been ongoing problems for some time which can be magnified in certain years when flows are particularly high,” said Travis Cundy, aquatic habitat biologist. “During high flows, the river can fill up existing water pools with sediment and also create center-channel bars which in turn creates more erosion.”
To address the issue, a seed mixture of water-adapted vegetation was planted along and on top of the bank. The seeds were planted on a floodplain bench, which is an area where water spills over in times of high flow, such as during the spring runoff. When mature, the vegetation will help trap and secure sediment from the river.
In addition, two bank protection vanes were strategically placed on either side of the river. One vane was created with a series of boulders and the other with a large cottonwood tree log. Both structures will serve to deflect flow away from the stream bank and redirect it toward the center of the river.
Additional erosion control projects are planned in coming years for stretches of the river in Dayton near the Highway 14 bridge at the east end of town.
Financial, engineering and logistical support for the project was contributed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the Sheridan County Conservation District, the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust Fund, the Natural Resource Conservation Service and a water quality grant from the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.