Roots: Bringing back the Bull River

Today, the Bull River is lacking in native shrubs and trees along its river banks. Loss of riparian forest, modified hydrology and highly competitive reed canarygrass limit the natural regeneration of other species. A healthy river is lined with diverse vegetation which has varied root systems that hold streambanks intact (in addition to providing important shade, cover, forage, and habitat for many fish and wildlife species). Much of the Bull River today is bordered almost exclusively by dense mats of reed canarygrass. Once introduced in hay fields, reed canarygrass has spread extensively along the banks of the Bull River. Reed canarygrass forms a dense rhizomatous mat in the uppermost layer of soil, but does little to protect or stabilize the soil underneath. This leaves much of the exposed streambank underneath exposed and prone to erosion. Once underlying soil has been washed away with the river, large clumps of reed canarygrass often fall into the river as well.

This film documents a large-scale, multi-partner re-vegetation effort along the banks of the Bull River, which are currently largely dominated by the non-native and highly competitive reed canarygrass. In order for plantings to be effective, the reed canarygrass must first be killed. This is accomplished by laying down a heavy fabric barrier over mats of reed canarygrass. This fabric, left in place for 1-2 years, will kill the grass and leave a space for other plants to establish. After the the weed barrier has been installed, the areas are also fenced in order to protect the young plants to be planted from wildlife browse until they are established enough to withstand this pressure.