Cultural Resource Protection

Columbia River Gorge Cultural Resource Protection

Wind Erosion Control P r o j e c t

The Dalles Oregon, Fall 2011

 

Problem

Severe wind erosion contributed to a loss of plant cover protecting a significant cultural

site in the Columbia River Gorge.  Vegetative cover is Nature’s way of protecting the

earth’s surface from erosion. Wind and water erosion in the Columbia River Gorge are at

times intense. With approximately 75 inches of rainfall a year and wind speeds that

commonly reach 50-70 miles per hour for sustained periods, and at times during the

winter, have at times been rated at 100 mph.

Project Background

Many cultural and archaeological sites—prehistoric and historic—remain along the

Columbia River. These sites are rich in artifacts and can reveal important information

about the people who lived in the region before us—how they lived, how they interacted

with the land, and what their concerns, motivations, and priorities were. In many cases,

these artifacts are more than interesting historical objects. They are often sacred to the

people who left them and to their descendants. Thousands of ancient sites along the

Columbia River Basin have been exposed to wind and water erosion since they were

buried. The creation of dams in the era of the New Deal flooded or deposited silt on

sacred sites near the river. But only in the last 100 years have a majority of the sites been

exposed to the hands of looters.

 

Solution

This project had many challenges from a construction standpoint, and a access problem.

No motorized equipment was allowed on the site so a helicopter was used to transport the

filled Envirolok bags and components.  All other material was air lifted to the site and a

dry application of PermaMatrix, native seed and organic fertilizer was used. Envirolok

was utilized as a mattress to hold a sand/topsoil mix in place.  By keeping the growing

medium in place the native vegetation can thrive and sustain itself.

 

 

Project Fact Sheet

Permits

Engineering

Army Corp of Engineers coordinated the environmentally-sensitive solution by working

with all the stakeholders and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

 

Environmental

Review

Tribe Members reaction,

“This is a great thing we are doing here today, putting to rest our ancestors has been a high priority”.

Agency reaction: “This is a great solution for sensitive areas”.

“It gives us as regulatory agents more tools to work with, we look forward to implementing this system on other projects”.