On March 23rd, App State’s National Park Trust Club partnered with Watauga Riverkeepers to do some stream bank restoration. Although the weather threatened to rain on us, nearly 40 people showed up in the morning to plant trees at the last live staking event of the season. MountainTrue’s Watauga Riverkeepers have been tasked with replanting the riverbanks on the former Ward’s Mill Dam site. Since the dam was removed, this portion of the Watauga River has struggled with erosion issues. 

The process of ‘live-staking’ refers to taking dormant cuttings from native trees during the winter and planting these stakes in early spring before they become active again. Volunteers helped to prepare the stakes by stripping some of the bark and cutting the ends at a 45-degree angle. This process helps the branch sprout and grow roots to survive on its own. Once the stakes were ready, we set to work planting 2,500 trees in only 2 hours! Between the 18 volunteers directly associated with our club and the other groups of volunteers, we were able to wrap up the event 2 hours early and remove large amounts of trash from the riverbanks. 

Volunteers, young and old, got to learn about the live-staking process and help plant a ton of trees for a good cause! With an 80% survival rate, we hope that the trees we planted will help to prevent any future erosion problems along the riverbanks. The National Park Trust Club also hopes to support the Watauga Riverkeepers next year as they help clean up another portion of the Watauga River where a dam is being removed. This removal will mark the first time in over 100 years that the headwaters of the Watauga River will be directly connected to its tailwaters that flow into the South Fork of the Holston River in Tennessee.