Trees Make Better Water


Trees Make Better Water
3/16/2011 2:35:00 PM

On Saturday, March 12, 2011, twenty-five EAST students and community volunteers met along the banks of the Illinois River to participate in the 2011 Riparian Project.

What is a Riparian buffer and why is it important?

“Riparian buffers decrease stream bank erosion, filter sediments and pollutants

commonly found in runoff, provide storm water storage, increase wildlife habitat,

provide cooler water and air temperatures, and increase groundwater infiltration.

Riparian buffers provide environmental and recreational benefits to creeks, streams,

and rivers, and improve water quality and downstream land areas.”

— Information courtesy of the Illinois River Watershed Partnership

EAST student Riparian Project coordinators, 7th graders Darby R., Michael S., Dalton B., and Dalton S. began researching the importance of riparian buffers at the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year, as they wanted to help protect the banks of the Illinois River in their town as well as to help keep the water in the river as clean as possible. 

In February of 2011, the boys met with representatives from the Arkansas Forestry Commission and asked for tree donations to plant along the Illinois River in Prairie Grove.  After receiving 1,000 green ash, sugarberry, and willow oak seedlings from the Forestry Commission along with assurance that the selected trees were native to the state of Arkansas, the project team was ready to proceed. 

Next, the team met with Dr. Delia Haak, administrative director of the Illinois River Watershed Partnership and applied to be a Riparian site city for 2011.  After reviewing the project teams’ proposal, Dr. Haak accepted, and Prairie Grove was selected as one of six site cities in Arkansas to participate in the 2011 Riparian Project.  After receiving permission from the Forestry Commission and the Watershed Partnership, Darby and his team met with J. Cox, park ranger at the Battlefield Park in Prairie Grove, to gain access to the selected river planting location. 

After discussing the project, looking at the types of trees to be planted, acknowledging that the trees would help prevent erosion and make the water cleaner, the Battlefield Park review board enthusiastically accepted the team’s proposal and granted permission to plant seedlings in the park along the river bank.

On Friday, March 11, 2011, two members of the Illinois River Watershed Partnership delivered 1,000 tree seedlings along with dibble bars (tools used to plant seedlings correctly), and trained the project team on how to correctly plant the trees.  Project leaders were also informed that they would be responsible for training all of the volunteers on the day of the planting, as well as creating a sign-in sheet to be copied for the IRWP, the Forestry Commission, and Battlefield Park for their official records. The volunteers would also have to pick up trash and debris along the planting site in order to keep the river clean.

Riparian Project Day, Saturday, March 12, 2011 arrived and the project team successfully led twenty-five EAST student and community volunteers through the planting event.  800 seedlings were planted and two bags of trash were collected, all in an effort to prevent erosion and to keep our water clean for years to come.

Our future plans are to map the area along the river where we planted the seedlings, to track their growth and to see the erosion impact on the area by measuring how the seedling roots are protecting the riverbanks from erosion. We are currently proposing to have our findings published by the Forestry Commission, Illinois River Watershed Partnership, and on the Battlefield Park webiste.

Tracie Ashley
EAST Facilitator
Prairie Grove Middle School




Welcome, Guest