By Dawn Pearson
Erosion is a natural threat to any trail system, but a portion of a trail in Starkey Park is at risk of being temporarily closed thanks to its effects.
The 1,000-foot portion of the trail, which winds along Eagle Creek, has experienced normal erosion from use but has been significantly damaged by frequent flooding in the area.
“This happens all over, streams erode their banks,” Parks Director Matt Dickey said. “In the last five years, we’ve had several significant floods.”
To help fix the problem, Zionsville applied for and received a $100,000 grant through the state’s Lake and River Enhancement program, which exists to preserve and enhance Indiana’s aquatic areas for wildlife and recreation. The fix will cost less than $150,000 and will be funded through the grant and the park department budget.
Muncie-based Flatland Resources will be making the repairs this summer.
“The restoration won’t start until low water season,” Dickey said. “This condition is typically in July when the project will begin, weather dependent.”
Dickey told the Town Council last month that a section of the trail may have to be temporarily shut down if significant flooding occurs before repairs can be made. Construction can’t begin until after fish spawning season, which ends June 30. The project is also dependent on permits that must be approved by several federal and state agencies.
Once repairs are made, trail flooding can still occur but it is expected to cause less damage to the trail system, Dickey said.
WHAT CAUSES TRAIL EROSION?
The trail erosion has been caused by three factors, according to Phil Tevis, owner of Flatland Resources:
- The ditching of streams/channels up stream, straightening of the naturally occurring meanders. The straightening results in increased energy which causes the outside bend to be more quickly eaten away in higher flow events.
- Increase of impermeable surfaces upstream. More parking lots, roads, field tiles, roofs and more cause rain waters to enter into the stream at a very fast rate. The fast water with more speed because of straightened channels creates more erosional forces.
- Lack of tree vegetation immediately upstream. No trees, no roots, less soil. Tree roots are like gnarled up fishing line in the ground that holds the soil together.