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Greening our Creeks on St. Patrick’s Day

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Article Published: Mar. 1, 2012 | Modified: Mar. 17, 2012
Greening our Creeks on St. Patrick’s Day

Ninebark, Physocarpus opulifolius, a native plant that grows well along High Country streams and rivers, is one of the species that will be given away during the ‘Greening Our Creeks’ event.
Photos submitted

Looking for something “green” to do on St. Patrick’s Day this year? If so, you’re in luck.

Watauga County Cooperative Extension is hosting a native plant demonstration and giveaway for residents in the High Country on March 17.

All are welcome, but participants must register in order to receive free plants and lunch.
The workshop will begin at 10:30 a.m. at 252 Poplar Grove Road in Boone.

To register for the event, call the Watauga County Agricultural Conference Center at (828) 264-3061 or email

In partnership with a grant from N.C. A&T State University and local lunch sponsorship from BB&T Bank, workshop participants can walk away with tips on how to care for their stream and river, free native vegetation (live stakes) and a free meal.

Across Western North Carolina, streambank erosion — and the resulting buildup of sediment in stream channels — is having negative impacts on water quality and habitat for “critters,” including trout that live in the streams, according to officials with the Cooperative Extension. Live stakes are an effective way to reduce streambank erosion.

“At this point you may be wondering, ‘What is a live stake?’ It is a long hardwood cutting from a native shrub, adapted to moist conditions, planted outdoors without rooting hormones,” extension agent Wendy Patoprsty said. “In this area, we use silky dogwood, elderberry, ninebark, silky willow and buttonbush.”

These woody plants have extensive root systems that stabilize the soil on stream banks during rainfall and high water flow, she said, adding that the shade produced by the shrubs help maintain the cooler temperatures that mountain fish and aquatic life need to survive, while the leaves help provide habitat and food for insects and fish. (Leaves fall into the stream, aquatic insects eat and live in the leaves, and trout eat the insects.)

“‘Greening our Creeks’ with vegetation is really important, because it acts as a filter to prevent sediment, fertilizers, pesticides, bacteria, pathogens and heavy metals from entering our rivers,” Patoprsty said.

The event will be held at the Watauga County Agricultural Conference Center where experts from the National Committee from the New River and the Watauga River Partners will share tips on stream care and available programs that can help landowners.

For those unfamiliar with installing live stakes, experts will demonstrate by planting a 20-foot section of Kraut Creek during the day.

To register for the event, call the Watauga County Agricultural Conference Center at (828) 264-3061 or email

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