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Use willow trees for flood control.

If you have a stream running through your property which is subject to flooding and/or occasional washout, there are at least two ways to help the situation.

Talk to your Regional State Forestry Agent and County Soil Conservation Service Agent. There are government programs to assist in this area. You may qualify to have part of your property put into a watercourse shelter belt with the government assisting in tree purchase and planting and you may even qualify for an annual compensation from the government for loss of use of the land. Shelter belts are normally 100-200 feet on each side of the waterway.

If your Regional State Forestry Agent is not listed in the local phone book, contact the state office and ask for their number.

The second option is to plant trees yourself. The trees which provide the quickest results are members of the willow family. Willows may be propagated by setting out cuttings about 10 inches long in the early spring. The cuttings root easily in the moist earth near the creek bank and within a few years develop well-rooted stock from which additional cuttings can be harvested and planted. The American Green Willow is a long-time favorite for the clay loam soils of the East and South, often growing where few other trees will grow, such as on land subject to flooding and on the borders of lakes, streams and rivers. The root system greatly helps to anchor banks or shores.

In several of his books, Louis Bromfield tells of restoring the stream which ran through Malabar Farm simply by cutting and planting a few willow cuttings on his evening walks during spring.

A relatively new entry which is receiving a great deal of advertising is a hybrid willow from Australia called "Austrees." In that country they are widely used for soil conservation, slope stabilization, gully control, flood damage control and windbreaks. They grow very quickly, frequently gaining a height of 15-20 feet in two years when bareroot trees are planted. They are reported to be hardy, disease resistant, non-spreading and not to have the brittle wood which has plagued hybrid poplars. They can be trained to grow in either bushy form or the bottom limbs trimmed to grow into a tree shape. The cost for 25 initial bareroot trees (minimum order) would be about $5.10 per tree. However, from these you would be able to obtain enough cuttings to plant all you need and then some. Since the leaves and young shoots make excellent forage, you will need to protect them from livestock for several years. These trees will in most of the U.S. For further information on Austrees, write to them at PO Box 830, Pescadero, CA 94060.

With some management, your "wild creek" will become both tame and a rather nice wildlife refuge.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Countryside Publications Ltd.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Scharabok, Ken
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:May 1, 1993
Words:473
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