In 2010, Volunteers with The Lake Helena Watershed Group and Lewis & Clark Conservation District, led by CD Supervisor Jeff Ryan, helped construct a soil lift along the banks of Lake Helena. These willows persist in great numbers to this day, providing suitable habitat for wildlife and stabilizing the shoreline.
Initially, hard rock rip-rap was placed in before a permitting process was complete (see first photo). The rip-rap had to be removed, and a bio-engineered bank with willows was used in replacement. Once enough time passes and deep roots have established, the willows work as effectively as rip-rap to stabilize the shoreline, and provides habitat complexity necessary to support diverse wildlife.
To protect the willow cuttings long enough for them to grow deep and intertwined root systems, fascines were created out of pine branches, placed at the “toe,” or bottom, of the bank and staked to the shore.
A fascine literally means: “a bundle of rods, sticks, or plastic pipes bound together, used in construction or military operations for filling in marshy ground or other obstacles and for strengthening the sides of embankments, ditches, or trenches.”
In the second photo above, the fascine is the bundle of pine branches you see at the bottom of the bank, closest to the water.