By Mary VanFleet
May was a busy month at Henrys Lake for continuing a shoreline restoration project conducted by BLM. Volunteers from Henrys Fork Wildlife Alliance, Henrys Lake Foundation and Henrys Fork IMNs came out of force to assist with this project. Continuing the project started a year ago, BLM and our local volunteers cut over 1000 dormant willow sticks into planting segments during 4 different days in early May. On May 23rd, the BLM crew and volunteers for the three organizations returned to complete the job of planting these sticks in the shoreline from Frome Park going north to Junkyard Point, towards the Cutthroat Landing subdivision.
Planting dormant willow sticks right at the edge of an eroding bank and into the shoreline helps to protect the shoreline from erosion that occurs during wave action in wind events. It also protects the shoreline from ice surge during the winter from deteriorating the bank. Willow sticks planted this spring will be leafed out and growing before winter snow comes in the Fall. As they grow, they form a nice protective buffer between the Lake waters and shore. All this stabilization of the banks is extremely important to reduce siltation in the lake, providing better aquatic growth substrate in the lake, higher quality water for fish and anglers.
Additionally, willow bottoms around the Lake are important habitat for many species of birds, both songbirds and waterfowl, as a food source, protection, and nesting areas. Willow bottoms at Henrys are great habitat utilized by migrating elk as a calving are on their way to summer grazing grounds. The willows provide great protection for elk during spring and early summer. Moose also utilize willow as a food source. This brings bears, raptors and other species to the Lake as well.
This project will continue into the fall and probably again next spring to work on other vulnerable areas of the shoreline at Henrys to improve the habitat by preventing erosion of soils, and provide habitat for many species.