Prime employees, including our Vice President and Survey Manager, participated in the 3rd Annual Great Gwinnett Wetlands event on April 29th. Sponsored by Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful in partnership with Gwinnett County’s Department of Water Resources, the event was an effort to clean up the wetlands around Bromolow Creek. The Gwinnett Wetlands, which flow into the Chattahoochee River, Yellow River, and Lake Lanier, provide filtration and flood control for these waterways and surrounding areas. The annual Great Gwinnett Wetlands event is held to raise awareness and promote the ongoing stewardship of Gwinnett’s wetlands and water resources.
We began our work early Saturday morning in Gwinnett County, accompanied by a large group of some 300 volunteers. Once at the cleanup site, the group split up into smaller teams. These teams were tasked with a variety of responsibilities including cleanup of the streams/wetlands/roads, invasive species removal, and water quality testing. The Prime team’s assignment was to install coir wattles into a stream within Bromolow Creek.
We walked about a mile to the part of Bromolow Creek where we would install the wattles. The day was absolutely beautiful and sunny, fortunately not too hot, and we received much shade from the wilderness around the creek. These wetlands are filled with vivid shades of green and walking through them showed how natural, untouched, and protected these areas are despite their proximity to a major highway.
Wildlife is very prevalent in this area and we saw two noteworthy species during our assignment. Built right next to our wattle installation resided a natural barrier for the creek, which our team leader informed us was the handiwork of local beavers. On our way out of the creek our group stumbled upon a common garter snake about two feet in length.
Coir wattles are frequently used for erosion control, bank stabilization and stream restoration. They’re made from natural, biodegradable materials (lightly packed mattress coir fiber on the inside, coir twine netting on the outside). They act as a natural barrier that can reinforce a stream bank and effectively filter water. Because the inside material is lightly packed, there is enough room for clean water to pass through. The wattles are designed to be extremely flexible, can fit any desired landscape, and are capable of containing upwards of 80 lbs. of strength.
Our team leader assessed the landscape and selected the best position for us to install our four wattles. From there our group split in half to install the wattles. Two were installed perpendicularly at each location, placed about one foot apart from each other. To start, we took turns digging up the bank to the depth of the creek and as wide as the wattles so they would fit snugly into the bank. Then it was time to lay in the wattles, which were bowed to conform to the natural landscape. After insertion we used five to six wooden stakes to keep them in place and level with the flow of water. We covered the wattles with the dirt we had removed from the banks, planted grass seeds to promote growth on top, and laid straw from nearby areas to keep the seeds in place.
Once all groups had completed their work for the day, we gathered back at our starting point for closing remarks. Each volunteer left the day with some new skills, a cool T-shirt, a free lunch, and some new friends.
Our group had a great day learning a new skill to add to our resumes, gaining general knowledge of the Great Gwinnett Wetlands, and getting a little muddy. It was also a pleasure to see the camaraderie amongst all of the volunteers for a greater cause. Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful estimated that volunteers at the event:
– Picked up 3,320 lbs. of litter and debris from the roadsides and stream banks
– Removed 2,400 lbs. of invading plants that harm the watershed
– Installed four coir wattles to prevent further erosion of the soil and plants
I know our group is looking forward to participating in their next event, so to learn more about Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful and to find other volunteer opportunities check out their website HERE