The first Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP) implementation project was installed at the Placzek property on a tributary of Dartford Creek in North Spokane County. The landowner was concerned with the erosion of his streambank and seeking advice to help naturally slow the erosion, as well as improve his wildlife and riparian habitat to a stream bank that currently has no riparian or upland vegetation. The land on the north bank side of the property is leased to a farmer who currently participates in the RCPP program and grows canola on the property. SCD installed a 50-foot wide riparian buffer, with a variety of native plants found mimicking the forest adjacent to the property. Cumulatively, 800 potted stock plants and 600 willow whips were planted with the goal of reducing erosion and repairing the riparian habitat.
In addition to the planting, we worked with the landowner and are using this planting project as an opportunity to test different watering establishment methods. For the experiment we laid out 4 different planting plots that each use a different watering method: a PVC pipe “straw” which allows water to be directly delivered to the roots, a proprietary watering cocoon, a standard planting with mulch and additional hydrosorb polymere to help retain water in the root zone, and a standard control planting with mulch. Each test plot has at least 100 plants and has the same mix of plant species and will be watered by hand with the same frequency for 3 years (except for the cocoons which are to only be refilled when necessary according to the manufacturer). Additionally, the stream channel was planted with a variety of willow species and red osier dogwoods. We hope that this experiment will reveal which planting and watering methodology will yield the highest survivability and help guide future plantings around the county.