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Erosion Control for Wildlife Valuation

Any active practice that attempts to reduce or keep soil erosion to a minimum for wild animals’ benefit is erosion control. Some erosion control practices include:

  • pond construction
  • gully shaping
  • streamside, pond and wetland revegetation
  • establishing native plants
  • dike, levee construction or management
  • water diversion

Pond construction is defined as building a permanent water pond to prevent, stop or control erosion as an approved Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) watershed project while providing habitat diversity and benefiting wildlife. Whenever possible, owners should use ponds to help create or restore shallow water areas as wetlands and for water management.

Gully shaping involves reducing erosion rates on severely eroded areas by smoothing to acceptable grades and re-establishing vegetation. An area should be seeded with plant species that provide food and/or cover for wildlife.

Streamside, pond and wetland revegetation means revegetating areas along creeks, streams, ponds and wetlands to reduce erosion and sedimentation, stabilize streambanks, improve plant diversity and improve the wildlife value of sensitive areas. Some revegetation practices include:

  • building permanent or temporary fences to exclude, limit or seasonally graze livestock to prevent erosion
  • using hay (native, when possible) to slow and spread water runoff in areas where vegetation has been recently re-established
  • establishing plant buffer areas or vegetative filter strips along water courses or other runoff areas
  • installing rip-rap, dredge spoil, or other barrier material along embankments to prevent erosion and protect wildlife habitat
  • establishing stream crossings to provide permanent low water crossings to reduce or prevent erosion

Establishing native plants on critical areas is one method of controlling erosion. These plants also can provide food and/or cover for wildlife and restore native habitat. Some of the ways to establish these plants are listed below.

  • Establish and manage wind breaks/shelterbelts by planting multi-row shelterbelts (at least four rows that are 120 feet wide by 1/4 mile), renovate old shelterbelts (re-fence, root-prune and replace dead trees) and establish shrub mottes.
  • Establish perennial vegetation on circle irrigation corners by revegetating at least every other corner to reduce erosion and sedimentation, improve plant diversity and improve wildlife habitat.
  • Plant permanent vegetation on terraces and field borders to reduce erosion, improve plant diversity and improve wildlife habitat.
  • Conserve tillage/no-till farming practices by leaving waste grain and stubble on the soil surface until the next planting season to provide supplemental food or cover for wildlife, control erosion and improve the soil tilth.

Manage Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) cover by maintaining perennial cover established under the CRP on erodible sites using proper management techniques such as haying, prescribed grazing or burning.

Dike, levee construction or management is a way to establish and maintain wetlands or slow runoff to control or prevent erosion and to provide habitat for wetland-dependent wildlife. Levee management may include reshaping or repairing damage caused by erosion and revegetating levee areas to reduce erosion and sedimentation and stabilize levees. This practice may include fencing to control and manage grazing use.

Water diversion systems also can be installed to protect erodible soils and divert water into wetlands to provide habitat for resident and migratory water birds and wetland-dependent species.

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