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Riparian Workshop Helps Landowners in Salado

Riparian Workshop Helps Landowners in Salado

Story by Randy Henry

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) presented an informative riparian workshop recently at the Salado Municipal Building in Salado, Texas.

The workshop helped more than 50 Salado landowners and residents in Bell County gain knowledge about riparian functions, hydrology/ fluvial geomorphology principles and interactions, and riparian vegetation that can enhance property that has been impacted by flooding in the Salado area over many years. Salado Creek has produced several damaging floods from torrential rainstorms, resulting in floodwaters coursing over dam spillways near Lake Stillhouse and Lake Belton.

�Landowners are the water managers of Texas and very important to the land around Salado Creek,� said Ricky Linex, NRCS wildlife biologist in Weatherford. �Soil, water and vegetation are not only a valuable triangle, but a well-built machine that must function together to be successful for the land near Salado Creek.�

Workshop attendees included descendents of the historic Robertson Plantation, several city constituents, county officials, state agency personnel, and NRCS personnel from the Belton and Bartlett Service Centers in Bell County.

�It�s an ongoing process to educate the public about Salado Creek�s problems, and several committees have been developed to help resolve the issues with the springs,� said Salado Mayor Merle Stalcup. �This workshop is for the landowner�s benefit to get more information about what can be done on their land that has been damaged by flooding.�

The workshop kicked off with a presentation about riparian functions by Linex, followed by Kenneth Mayben, NRCS civil engineer in Weatherford, discussing hydrology/fluvial geomorphology principles and interactions. Mayben delivered a detailed presentation about how streams can meander, as well as how the process is different within each stream, due to variations in elevation, vegetation, soils, and contribution or impediments from man and animals.

A tour of the Robertson Plantation also was provided so attendees could view the Salado Creek riparian sites within the plantation and near the city of Salado. Attendees were able to gain information about the riparian vegetation surrounding the urban and rural landscapes.

Robertson Plantation is an 851-acre plantation and ranch built in the 1850s, and still is owned by the original family descendents of Col. E. Sterling C. Robertson.

�Salado Creek is changing with the times and we want it to stay natural and in good health for the springs, the local community, and the city of Salado,� said Cile Cowan, an heir to Col. Robertson and plantation co-owner.

The tour ended with Linex showing attendees what plants offer good riparian vegetation on the Robertson Plantation. The plant types and riparian vegetation shown to the group included trees, shrubs, forbs, sedges, and grasses that deter erosion and flood damage to the stream.

Along with NRCS, the workshop was sponsored by Keep Salado Beautiful, the Salado Historical Society, the Village of Salado, and Robertson Plantation.

Riparian Vegetation Robertson Ranch Vegetation Presentation

This photo shows the riparian vegetation on Robertson Plantation with a gravel bar that helps fight erosion and slowdown floodwaters that can affect Salado Creek. This stream is within one-quarter mile of Salado, where there is less riparian vegetation and higher risks of damage from erosion during seasonal rainfall.

(Left to right) Kaleb Pool, NRCS soil conservationist in Bartlett, Ricky Linex, NRCS wildlife biologist in Weatherford, and Kenneth Mayben, NRCS civil engineer in Weatherford, presented onsite demonstrations about riparian vegetation during a tour of Salado Creek on Robertson Plantation.

Linex and Group

Ricky Linex displays Flat sedge, which is an emersed plant and example of good riparian vegetation, to an attendee at Robertson Plantation during the Salado Riparian Workshop.