For two years has been working on a 1.0 CEU On-Line Video Course based on the Curriculum and Hands-On experiences presented at Erosion Control BMP SUMMIT at Shasta College.

There really is no real substitute for attending class at the world-renowned Erosion Control Training Facility at Shasta College.

However, our generous video library can really bring home the theory of BMPs.

Serendipitously, Kevin Ernst from Heaven Motion Pictures and I completed The Best of the BMP SUMMIT Video Course just a week before the COVID-19 breakout.  

There‚Äôs an old saying ‚ÄúOut of crisis comes opportunity‚ÄĚ.

Now is the time to invest in yourself or to empower your staff to learn from home.

The on-line course has ‚ÄúSUMMIT‚ÄĚ in its name because the 2-day Erosion Control BMP SUMMIT at Shasta College has become such an effective and important training for our Industry.

Our on-line Video Course assimilates the best from that experience.  

This Video Course is not like a Webinar Рits use of multimedia, and video clips, is anything but boring. I guarantee your desire to learn more will be piqued. 

How to Install, Effectiveness-enhancing tricks-of-the-trade, What are you looking for when inspecting, and most important – How do you select the Best BMP for the site conditions.

Track Walking,if done correctly, is a soil preparedness BMP that is tested to be 54% effective reducing soil erosion


Attention Summit Registrants:  Special Offer

We will immediately offer you a refund on your fee already paid. (Most of you got the Early Bird reduction).  

However, if you would like to take advantage of the new Best of the BMP SUMMIT Video Course, we will offer you a $75 discount. 


The course includes:

  • 7 Comprehensive Modules will never leave you guessing¬†
  • BMP Manual download¬†
  • Tests at the end of 6 Modules¬†
  • Certificate of Course Completion upon achieving 70% correct
  • Lifetime access to review the material repeat the test if necessary


Click here to see all the course details and enroll today!

This Biotechnical Soil / Slope Stabilization used to protect top of slope recession on the Bluffs above Redding’s Sacramento River.

This VMSE detail, along with widely referenced design and construction guidance, comes from BioDraw3.0 and ESenSS Manuals with CAD-ready digital files.  See Store

The Problem

‚ÄúThe Bluffs‚ÄĚ condominiums in Redding CA have provided spectacular views of the Sacramento River, Redding City, and the mountains to the west since they were developed in the 1970‚Äôs.¬† The best views are afforded to those ‚Äúcondos‚ÄĚ which are set back only 35‚Äô from the cliff (bluff) edge.¬† The bluffs are over 200-ft high above the river.¬† The slope is generally stable, even though the slope averages 0.5V:1H, as it is well vegetated with Canyon Live Oaks, Pines, shrubs, a few willows, and some native grasses. The soil is derived from sedimentary conglomerate deposited tens of thousands of years ago. The bluffs are relatively stable from erosion.¬† It takes very severe runoff to erode.¬† Lateral recession on this site is less than 1-ft to 3-ft since ‚ÄúThe Bluffs‚ÄĚ were built over 40 years ago.¬† However a few locations along the property have experienced shallow gully or slumping erosion due primarily to irrigation water line breaks.

Fig 1 РThe bluffs are about 200’ high.  We decided to start the structure at a stable platform approximately 25’ vertical below top of bank.


Fig. 2 ¬†The ‚Äútoe‚ÄĚ of the structure utilized Coir Logs anchored with Gripple anchors and wrapped in Biaxial Geogrid


The Challenges

The Condos were built close together which only allowed a concrete path wide enough for wheelbarrow access.  Therefore all materials would be carried or wheel-borrowed and carried down by ladder. The slope was probably about 0.5H:1V.  A softy rope was required always and sometimes the equipment and tools needed to be tied off. The Sacramento River was about 150’ to catch them if they fell!
Fig 3 and 4   The Growsoxx were about 3’ long and the Siltsoxx were 10-12’ long, each could be carried by hand.


Site goals, opportunities and constraints were:

1.    There was no equipment access between the condos, wheelbarrow only.

2.    The desired outcome was to return the slope to restore some of the contours.  That would require an average of roughly 3-4ft of fill horizontally.

3.    A soldier pile wall or adding compacted layers of engineered fill, 0.5:1 slope over 20-ft high was not feasible.

4.    A lighter fill comprised of 50% sandy/gravelly loam mixed with 50% composted OM, reinforced with geogrid and roots seemed possible given the wheelbarrow transport and hand shovel restrictions.

5.    A rule of thumb for bioengineering on steep adverse soils is to compensate for lack of compaction (engineered soils) with lots of reinforcement (geogrids and geotextiles initially and variable roots long term) and use relatively free draining soils with added cohesion (in the form of fungi, humus, and organic matter).

6.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Compost-filled socks were selected for both reinforced fill and an excellent growth medium.¬† We relied on compost socks for over half of the needed fill, and was also used as the new slope facing.¬† The compost was relatively light so we weren‚Äôt putting an inordinate amount of weight on the steep slope and the ‚Äúencapsulated‚ÄĚ compost socks allows us many opportunities to ‚Äúanchor‚ÄĚ the structural elements to each other and to the slope.

7.¬†¬†¬†¬†The Filtrexx Siltsoxx and Growsoxx proved to be perfect product components for this project.¬† Growsoxx are produced to grow vegetation really well.¬† The compost filling them is certified compliant with the US Compost Council and there are many successfully documented projects using the Growsoxx to establish ‚Äúliving walls‚ÄĚ.¬† The Siltsoxx, on the other hand, are particularly designed to filter sediment-laden water. Because they are filled with a larger gradation of composted chips and stems, averaging 5/8‚ÄĚ diameter, they allow free drainage but and are thought to be less effective as a growing medium.

8.¬†¬†¬†¬†I used some specific rationale in selecting both Siltsoxx and Growsoxx for this job.¬† The material enveloping the Siltsoxx (green geotextile) appears stronger and longer lasting.¬† If we use the Siltsoxx along the horizontal areas ‚Äúlifts‚ÄĚ where we plant / install willow branches (brushlayering) then having a super growth medium on the slope surface is not that important.¬† Remember the willows will root from deeper into the slope.¬† And the bigger wood chip gradations will last longer.

9.    I further theorized that the Growsoxx would be better used behind the Siltsoxx, deeper in the slope, when brushlayering is used.  That is where the willow roots will need good growth medium. Conversely, the Growsoxx will be more effective on the slope outer face when we are relying on native grasses and grass plugs to take over.

Figs 5 & 6  Willow Brushlayering and Geogrid were, in my opinion, the most critical elements on this project, where typical engineering criteria was not feasible or desirable, like engineered and compacted fill (woody and herbaceous growth is minimized as compaction reaches 90% or more) and soil nails (drilling into the face of the bluffs conglomerate was also infeasible).
Fig. 7 ¬†¬†¬†A similar slump/erosion feature nearby revealed the stability and beneficial¬†‚Äúbuttressing‚Ä̬†provided by a single willow shrub! ¬†We planted nearly 200 branches and expect very good establishment.
A geomorphic-based investigation of the bluffs revealed that trees, native grasses and willows were abundant and probably responsible for the relative stability from erosion of the Bluffs in general.
Lastly we installed 260 grass plugs which we acquired from Hedgerow Farms in Woodland. ¬†We chose Elymus¬†glaucous and¬†Nassella¬†pulchra because both are¬†California natives and are¬†indigenous to this area. Both have¬†fibrousroots¬†(high pullout resistance) that typically can extend 4′ to 6‚Äô deep. ¬†Nassella p. or Purple Needlegrass is the State Native Grass and these bunch grasses¬†have been cited as living 80 years. ¬†Of course we amended the soils with Biosol Forte (a slow, biologically released fertilizer) and AM 120 Arbuscular Mychorrizae. ¬†(Note – Compost does not have mychorrizae in it – it has lots of bacterial, but the composting process will effectively kill any fungal¬†propagules or spores. ¬†It must therefore be introduced from nearby or applied, most practically as a commercial product)
Figs 8 & 9  A dibble tool used to insert grass plug through geogrid and into the compost sock.
Fig 10 & 11  The plugs are growing rapidly, size has increased by 200% in just 4 weeks.  The full-grown Nassella is probably two to three years old.


For more information on this and more projects visit again.  In the near future, we will be offering technical case studies, self-published in, pdf format.


*Also think about attending the¬†Western Water Summit¬†January 22-23, 2019 at the Paradise Point Resort in San¬†Diego‚Äôs¬†Mission¬†Bay. ¬†John will be teaching and lecturing at a 1-day course entitled ¬†“Topics in Watershed Restoration: Selected Sustainable Approaches and Methods from Streams, Slopes, Wildfire, and Stormwater BMPs Driven by Climate Change‚ÄĚ John McCullah


*Additionally, John will be teaching a 1/2 day course on¬†“Bioengineering for Slopes and Streams Plus Case Studies‚Ä̬†at the IECA 2019 Annual Conference in Denver. ¬†The IECA Conference runs from February 20th – 22nd, 2019
Johns Course is one of the Pre-Conference Workshops offers on Tuesday, February 19


* For those of you in the Mid-west, John will be a Keynote Speaker and teaching the Bioengineering Course at the 2019 MECA 31st Annual Conference, Minnesota Erosion Control Association РJanuary 29th-31st, 2019

The Clip below was excerpted from Dirt Time videos made during a hands-on training workshop up in the Canadian Rockies back in 2006.

This workshop was sponsored by the Alberta Transportaion who wanted to “get the word out” about NCHRP Report 544 – Environmentally-Sensitive Channel and Bank Protection Methods , aka, Alternatives to Riprap.
We (Dirt Time) ended up implementing and filming several more workshops (projects) throughout the Provence.  See Hinton and Willow Creek

Many more of these Dirt Time Bioengineering and BMP video clips (5-10 minute long) will be available for you to watch, take a test, and get Continieing Edcation Units (CEUs).

See¬†¬†for similar courses in near future. ¬†The video clips are also avaiable at the Watch Your Dirt in the “Dirt Time BMP and BIOENGINEERING Complete Works” for $299

Also see Forester University for Dirt Time Courses Р

The devastation from the Carr Fire in west Redding was severe, especially in the areas around Old Shasta, Keswick and Rock Creek Road.  The severity of the fire can be correlated with the amount and type of fuel, e.g., species and density of trees and brush.  The area that burned the hottest were often dominated by Knobcone Pine and Manzanita sp.

Lets talk about Knobcone pine for a bit.  This pine is a fire dependant species meaning the cones require fire to germinate, and when they get fire, well sprout they do.  I recall studies done over 20 years ago, when we were working in Middle Creek Watershed on erosion control and fire prevention.  The studies indicated that, historically, the natural wildfire fire intervals in the region was averaging about every 10-15 years. Because of development in the urban interface and modern fire suppression efforts the last big wildfire was over 30 years ago. Meaning the fire was severe because of fire suppression!  Also meaning many of the dense stands of knobcone pines occur today because of a wildfire 20-40 years ago, which aided the germination of the cones, ergo the stands of Knobcone Pine that promoted the recent conflagaration were born in the last wildfire.  Foresters know one can count the whorls of limbs on conifers to roughly determine the trees age, each whorl is one year.

This is a knob cone pine. Counting all the whorls indicate about 35-40 years old, The cones are now ready to start a new fire cycle !!

The Knobcone pines on the ridge in back show the “even age” nature. The unburned pines in closer are probably Ponderosa Pines.

Many ecologists believe that by planting properly selected (by mimicing the indiginous system) California native grasses (pioneering species) we can “set the stage” for establishing a more natural successional process – grasses succeded by shrubs, followed by oaks and conifers. ¬†The ‘do nothing approach’ will likely result in more of the same, Knobcone pines and manzanita. Wherby CA Native grasses, given a leg up (advantage) by adding mycorrhizae fungi and biotic fertilizers, is likely to result in a more natural and less fire prone landscape. ¬†Remember also that this landscape has not been “natural” for some time. ¬†Anthropogenic (human-caused) land uses, like the smelters at the turn of the century, severely altered the land and denuded the Ponderosa Pine forests that predominated the region historically. ¬†Maybe now, after the Carr Fire disaster, we can turn the tables and set the stage for natural succession. ¬†We will need to do erosion control anyway, especially in many locations where infrastructure and dwellings will be threatened by potentially severe erosion. ¬†So why not select and apply Best Management Practices (BMPs) that include Native Grasses, mycorrhizae fungi, and Slow-release, biotic fertilizers?

This is in fact what Caltrans is doing along the 299W highway corridor.  I will be sharing the seed mixes and mulches and amendment specifications that are currently the best state-of-the-art.  Coming soon!


Some of the post-fire remediation may include seeding and mulching the bare soil.  By consulting your natural resource or Erosion Control Specialist you can determine the extent and range of treatments necessary, and an experienced professional can help you evaluate the risks.


But generally, if seeding is¬†recommended,¬†in the urban /¬†wild land transition area you will want to look at re-seeding with a¬†‚Äúnative seed mix‚ÄĚ. ¬†This is so important from an ecosystem point of view. ¬†Grasses native and endemic to your area will develop deep roots, set the stage for “natural succession‚ÄĚ of other native shrubs and trees, be¬†drought tolerant (they are California natives¬†after all ) and reduce risks of developing an even more fire prone landscape. ¬†Try to avoid the temptation of using quick n‚Äô cheap erosion control blend of seeds that are non-native annuals, like Italian rye grass. ¬†In three or 4 years¬†you‚Äôll probably end up with a nice stand of weeds, burrs, and¬†star thistle.
Also consider adding mychorrizae¬†fungi and a biotic organic fertilizer. ¬†Consider¬†AM-120 Mycorrhizal Inoculum¬†and¬†Biosol¬†or¬†Sustaneorganic fertilizers. ¬†Most California Native grasses, especially in our¬†North state¬†area, have a symbiotic relationship with mychorrizae fungi. ¬† CA ‘natives’ don‚Äôt need commercial fertilizers with high water soluble N, however weeds and annuals love commercial fertilizer –¬†so feed the good seeds, not the weedy annuals!
Seeding and then mulching with straw is the most common means to¬†‚Äúprotect” smaller areas, say <0.5 acres. ¬†Straw Mulch should be “clean” and weed-free. On construction site, especially highway projects, the straw should be anchored so it doesn’t blow away. ¬†Anchoring is not that critical on restoration or fire rehab sites – the first rains will “lay the straw down”.
Hydromulch and hydroseeding, that slurry you often see spread by a big mulching truck, is another way to go. ¬†It will be much more¬†cost-effective for large areas and much quicker – with good access and¬†available water (to make a new mix) an experienced Hydromulching professional can treat 2-5 acres a day. ¬†While Straw Mulch is the most common hand-applied mulch, hydromulchers use mulch derived from wood fiber. ¬†Wood fiber mulches can be the¬†‚ÄúMercedes¬†Benz‚ÄĚ of mulches, long lasting and very effective. ¬†Profile Products make a reputable line of products. ¬†There is a relatively new hydraulically applied mulch made from sterile wheatgrass, called Hydrostraw. ¬†Then the seed and fungi and fertilizer can be added to the slurry.



There is so so much to know with regards to proper erosion control. ¬†It is so much more than¬†‚ÄúCommon Sense‚ÄĚ. ¬†A practitioner friend often says,¬†‚Äú¬†erosion control is not brain surgery or rocket science –¬†it is much more difficult!

Stay tuned for a few videos on this subject coming here soon!
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