Manhole covers gushed, streets swam and hillsides slid.

The sky just opened up as the most intense storm I have ever seen – hit my hometown – and most fortunately I was HOME.  I grabbed my camera(s) and ran down to Sulphur Creek.  I had a moment of pause though.  

Should I instead run out to Shasta College and see what the storm was doing at the ECTF (Erosion Control Training Facility) since we had JUST (three days prior) completed filming the Big Cover Up and Hydromulch episodes and the compost blankets, hydromulch, ECBs and everything else was also getting blasted?

I chose Sulphur Creek because it was close to home and the storm cell was really “doing it here”.  Also for the last 12 years our non-profit watershed restoration group, SWAG (Sacramento Watersheds Action Group) has been restoring the long-degraded, gold mined, turned upside down, urban salmon/steelhead stream.  We have put over $1.8 million in grant funding “on the ground” realigning and restoring over 2-miles of stream, doing road-to-trail conversions, and increasing riparian and stream function.  See for more info.

The most recent work, completed 3 years ago was under a grant from CA DWR; SWAG partnered with the City of Redding.  Almost $400K was used to realign and restore floodplain along over 1 mile of creek.  This included sewer crossings camouflaged by Newbury rock riffles/rock vanes hybrids (David Derrick and I dubbed them “viffles”).  We also designed some fish passage step/pools at a Union Pacific Railroad Culvert (No fish have passed this point since construction – 1938).  

I was able to document the 1.8” / hour intensity rainfall.  WOW.  See how the Articulated Concrete Block (ACB) low water crossings faired.  Look at the before and during pix of the huge boulder step/pool viffles at the railroad.  During construction I was skeptical that such big rocks were necessary – but now I’m glad.  The orientation of the boulders was also critical as the viffle orientation provided much-needed stability.  Also, so grateful that David Derrick explained the importance of building riffles from the bottom up and “under compression”.

Well, that’s it for now.  But with Sulphur Creek I always have  more to say.  So stay tuned!!



Big Day here at Watchyourdirt! Today is the launch of our latest DVD:  The Big Cover Up!

How do you button up a large site, in a small amount of time?  What’s the difference between straw blankets & Blown Straw?  Are compost blankets a good idea?  When should I use what?

These are just some of the questions that led to filming this episode of Dirt Time.  In the Big Cover Up, we look at the options for large open area erosion control.

In this DVD,  we cover the Big Area theory, installation and finer points of … 

  • HydroMulching,
  • Straw Blowing
  • Erosion Control Blankets
  • & Compost Blankets.

The Big Cover Up! is available right now at  Click here to get your.

We hope you enjoy!  Any feedback, drop us a line using the contact us form on the right hand side of this page.

You can check out some stills from the video here.

Special thanks goes out to our episode sponsors:  HydroStraw & ExpressBlower.

Hi All

Time to blog the results of our, almost year-long, Hydromulch Study conducted at the Erosion Control Training Facility in Redding, CA.  

We were testing whether thick applications of Hydromulch would in fact “smother” or hinder seed establishment.

We used Nassella pulchra, Elymus Glaucus and I think 1/3 Leymus triticoides (these are relatively large grass seeds but widely used in No. CA.).  

We did uniform soil prep (trackwalking), put the seed down uniformly UNDER (not with) the hydromulch and then covered with all kinds of commonly used hydromulches – Soil Guard, Flexterra, TeraMulch, hydrostraw, and the cotton mulch (NAG).

We documented NO discernible ill effects from higher rates.  Actually just the opposite!!!  

This winter had such intense storms it was very unusual and the lower rates of hydromulch resulted in quite a bit more erosion – one more storm and I predict the seed and slopes would have been lost on the 2000#/ac applications.

What is most significant is that we also applied a compost blanket 2″ thick.  There was NO reduction of seed establishment, if fact the compost blanket grew the BEST grass, by covering seed with 2″ of compost.

This finding is consistent with all my experience in putting down compost blankets with the Compost Blower machine – Hilltop Burn Dump (2005), Alberta DOT Pembina River 2006 and 2008.

Hope you enjoy and hope this paper somewhat “lays to rest” the notion that Compost Blankets at 2″ will smother seeds.   

We must, as EC Specialists, find a balance between veg establishment and effective erosion control during the establishment period.  Good luck   




BUT:  What say you?  What’s been your experiences and/or opinions?  Leave some comments below and let’s get some conversation going!


File this under ‘Neither Here nor There’…

A quick, little fun link for a Friday afternoon.  Click Here to see a pretty fascinating webpage dedicated to documenting (before they collapse) the ‘world’s most dangerous bridges’.  

They’re mostly foot bridges, so the connection to erosion control is relatively loose and/or non-existent.  But, it’s a fun read nonetheless.

Click here for the link

We just want to take a quick moment to welcome to the site, all of the good folks at Caltrans.

Because of the ‘Vimeo’ video player service we use here at WatchYourDirt, Caltrans office computers were blocked from watching the videos and using the site to its full potential.

A big shout out and thank you must go to Greg Balzer in the office of Roadside Management and Landscape Architecture Standards for taking the initiative and getting WatchYourDirt unblocked for everyone at Caltrans.  

Getting sites removed from a ‘blocked’ list is never an easy task, especially in an organization as large as Caltrans.  So we are very thankful to Greg and his efforts!!

Since the unblocking, some WatchYourDirt videos have already been referenced in Caltrans material, and we couldn’t be happier about it!

If you happen to be from another DOT or Government Organization and portions of this site are not available to you – in particular the video components – please give us a shout and we’ll see if we can work with you and your organization to see if we can open up the site.

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