Soil & water – necessary foundations of healthy forests

Placing woody debris along an eroding streambank to begin strengthening the bank of Barney Creek.

By Cody Norris

The beautiful waterways that traverse Missouri are the lifeblood of Mark Twain National Forest (MTNF). The soils of the forest provide the arteries through which that water flows.

Healthy forests depend on healthy soil and hydrology, and so do aquatic species. Forest Service personnel conducted several projects last year that were beneficial to these valued ecological components.

One example in 2019 of MTNF improving habitat for aquatic species was the Barney Creek Streambank Restoration Project. As the name implies, this took place on Barney Creek, a Huzzah Creek headwater stream.  

Past land clearing and uses caused steep, eroding banks void of vegetation. The lack of plants led to increased soil erosion, eventual loss of land in the floodplain, and loss of aquatic habitat.  

The project on Barney Creek was a great example of using nature to help nature. An engineering technique using natural materials, such as trees and other large woody debris, was used to build structures at three sites with major bank erosion issues. 

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