Erosion gut-check

Take stock of your soil after first rainfall of fall

As if Mother Nature read the calendar, we got our first rain of autumn over the first weekend of October. The storm also was the first since the summer wildfires—Humboldt, Ophir and Butte Lightning Complex—burned away the ground cover from tens of thousands of acres across Butte County, which led to Emergency Broadcast System warnings of flash floods the night of Oct. 3.

Soil erosion will remain a concern throughout winter. If you took measures that didn’t withstand this storm, or if you haven’t taken any and should, consider what the Butte County Resource Conservation District has to say on the subject. RCD advice on dos and don’ts includes:

• Don’t be too quick to remove fire damaged vegetation or disturb burned slopes. Many damaged native plants will re-sprout and come back.

• Don’t cover fire damaged slopes with plastic sheeting. Plastic sheeting will increase runoff and the likelihood of erosion. The use of mulches is a more effective way to protect soil.

• Install sediment control measures, such as mulches and log terraces.

Ash and soil erosion affects water quality.

• Don’t use whole straw bales for water diversion or sediment control. These devices require a great deal of maintenance and should only be done with a qualified contractor certified in erosion and sediment control. Rice straw mulches are most effective in protecting the soil.

• Monitor and maintain all erosion-control measures to correct deficiencies as soon as possible.