Rough River Lake staff tests out new shoreline stabilization method

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District
Published Feb. 17, 2021

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District Rough River Lake staff is testing out new shoreline stabilization methods at the North Fork Beach in McDaniels, Kentucky. 

The team is rolling out a newer product manufactured especially for erosion control to determine its effectiveness in reducing shoreline erosion.
On any waterway, one of the major environmental factors you can encounter is erosion. When the environmental stressors are great enough to cause high amounts of erosion on the banks of a waterway, or reservoir, it is necessary to stabilize the bank to halt the erosion to save the land you are losing, according to Adam Taylor, Rough River Lake park ranger and shoreline stabilization project lead. 

“In this particular location we have a beach and parking lot,” Taylor said. “The erosion of the banks had been greatly increased in recent years due to high water and increased wave action at high water levels. This spot had to be addressed because we did not want to lose enough land to impact the integrity of our parking lot.”

According to Taylor, last year Rough River Lake staff was introduced to the product from one of their partners with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

 “Some of the other lakes have already used a couple of rolls to test it out; however, it has yet to be used on the shoreline,” Taylor said.

The product is a vegetated concrete block mat used for stabilizing slopes, channels, low water crossings, inlet/outlet protection and shorelines. It consists of concrete blocks locked together and embedded into a high-strength geogrid. There is spacing between the blocks that gives the mat flexibility and allows for optional vegetation growth.

“We chose this product (to test) because it seemed to be easy to install and would allow for vegetation growth back on the area,” Taylor said. “Natural vegetation is the best erosion control method we can use; however, it’s very hard to establish. The low profile of the mat will allow for mowing over the top, which our traditional rip-rap method will not.” 

To test the new method and to get an accurate representation, the team had to find the best location, according to Taylor.

“Once we had chosen a location, our maintenance crew graded and prepped the site,” Taylor said. “We then hauled out materials, seeded and fertilized the land, installed mats and strawed affected areas.”

The project took two days to complete. It took a team of four employees to physically set the mat; one equipment operator, one spotter, and two individuals to help control the rolling of the mat as it was rolled out with the skid steer, according to Taylor.

“After the first mat is placed, the second is overlapped and rolled out,” Taylor said. “Once they are overlapped, the mats are tied together to help keep them in place. Each mat is fairly heavy as the product weighs about 10 pounds per square foot.” 

The Rough River Lake staff hopes to see how well the product works and holds up before opting to do a larger scale project. 

“Our goal is to test the product and see if it works,” Taylor said. “If it does, we would like to expand the use in some of our recreation areas to address problem sections of shoreline – mainly inside our campgrounds.”

By the end of the summer season, the team should have a good idea of its success.