Joint Planting Demonstration Site: Mendenhall River Riverbend Revetment

In the Spring of 2014, the JWP, in partnership with the SAGA's Alaska Service Corps and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), completed joint-planting on the “Riverbend Revetment” of the Mendenhall River. The Service Corps crews under the guidance of John Hudson of the USFWS moved 180 cubic yards of soil with hand tools to improve and enhance 12,000 square feet of Mendenhall River riparian habitat. Soil was delivered to the revetment in wheel barrows and placed in the voids of the riprap. The crews planted 803 trees in the voids, including Sitka spruce, western hemlock, red alder, and black cottonwood. This project got some local attention in an article published in the Juneau Empire.


Photos: Mendenhall River Riverbend Revetment before (in 2010) and after (in 2015) joint planting. Photos courtesy of John Hudson, USFWS


What is joint-planting?
Joint-planting is a technique used for vegetating existing or newly constructed riprap revetments on streams in order to enhance riparian habitat. Dormant cuttings or potted plants are planted in the rock joints in order re-establish riparian vegetation and cover. This allows, over time, recovery of some riparian vegetation and the associated benefits. Sometimes, this technique is referred to as vegetated riprap, as are similar techniques that also result in a vegetated riprap revetment.

What are the benefits to joint-planting?
Joint planting is an inexpensive, relatively easy method to implement. It can improves aesthetics, and riparian and fish habitat. It can be used to improve existing structures, though installation is easier when incorporated as part of new riprap revetment. Over time, the vegetation adds to stability of riprap revetment.

Can I do this on my property?
YES! At least 11 rip-rap revetments totaling 8,835 linear feet of armored river bank have been constructed along the Mendenhall River alone, from near Back Loop Road to the Juneau International Airport. Most of these are on private property. Lemon Creek also has a number of riprap revetments that could use improvement. We encourage landowners to consider vegetating riprap revetments along their river-front properties. Take a look at our Techniques for Vegetating Riprap Revetments and contact us if you would like to work with JWP to implement joint-planting on your property. While there is no guarantee, we can potentially obtain grant funding to complete a project on your property at no cost to you!