Flowers will be blooming this summer at Bob Henry Park as a part of an ongoing riparian restoration project.
With significant funding from Illinois River Watershed Partnership, last September crews began working on a multi-phase project at Bob Henry Park to improve streamside vegetation, treat stormwater runoff, and reduce erosion along Sager Creek in downtown Siloam Springs.
"Stormwater runoff is likely the greatest threat to water quality in our growing region," said Travis Chaney, City of Siloam Springs Parks and Recreation Manager. "Rapid suburban development and an increase in intense rainstorms means that more water is flowing off of pavements and into our streams than those streams can handle. We see this play out as flash flooding and widespread streambank erosion."
Phase I replaced a network of failing stormwater pipes next and concrete channels next to the Maple Street bridge with a bioretention facility. Bioretention facilities are excavated basins that use engineered soils, plants, and underdrains to slow, soak, and filter stormwater before it flows into a receiving stream. This project also included an elevated boardwalk, a viewing platform, and stone steps for visitors to access Sager Creek. The bioretention area treats stormwater runoff from approximately 10 acres of residential and commercial properties downtown. Contractors planted nearly 10,000 individual native plants in the basin that will add beauty and provide wildlife habitat while filtering and absorbing stormwater runoff.
Phase 2 involved replacing 300 feet of failing stone revetments at the water's edge on the streambank adjacent to the Masonic Temple, in between the Maple Street bridge and the W. University Street bridge. Over the past 10 years, erosion had eaten behind the original stone boulders, leaving them in the middle of the creek and threatening to eventually undermine the Dogwood Springs Walking Trail. New, larger, more stackable boulders were added and the streambank was built back and reinforced.
Phase 3 involves removing invasive vines, shrubs, and poison ivy from the riparian forest along the Dogwood Springs Trail in Bob Henry Park and replacing the invasive vegetation with lower growing native vegetation that will hold streambank soils in place at ground level. Crews are currently working on this stage. It will wrap up in the spring.
In the summer, work will begin on Phase 4 to stabilize a 300-foot section of highly eroded streambank just downstream of the footbridge adjacent to the Tails and Trails Dog Park.
"I'm happy with the way it has come together, from the dynamic design work of Ecological Design Group through to the excellent build by John Chapman of Flowstate, LLC, and the support of Illinois River Watershed Partnership," Chaney said. It's been fun to watch folks in the community walk by and scratch their heads, trying to figure out what's going on here."
The community is invited to a Ribbon Cutting scheduled for Friday, February 24 at 2 p.m. at Bob Henry Park, 604 W Benton St. Come out to celebrate the Bob Henry Park Riparian Restoration Project, enjoy time in the park, and learn more about the restoration project.
"The main thing I look forward to," Chaney said, "is the delight on kids' faces as they climb down the stone steps to the creek, or race across the boardwalk, or crouch down to watch a Monarch butterfly land on a bright pink Swamp Milkweed flower."