Riparian Restoration in Texas

Sept. 4, 2013

The Mission Reach project is transforming an 8-mile stretch along the San Antonio River in San Antonio from a barren, unvegetated riverbank to a riparian woodland habitat with more than 15 miles of recreational trails. While the focus of the project was to increase recreational use and restore the habitat to a more natural setting, it also was necessary to provide access for maintenance vehicles and recreational use. The project designers wanted to preserve the natural look while minimizing traditional paving materials that add to damaging storm water runoff. Native plants were used for beauty as well to establish a deep root system that, coupled with more than 20,000 young trees and shrubs, aids in holding soil in place and helping to control erosion along the river.

Jacobs Eng. and GeoSolutions, the designers of the project, opted to use GrassProtecta grass reinforcement mesh, a heavy-duty, slip-resistant, polyethylene grid that reinforces and protects grass surfaces and allows for vehicle and pedestrian traffic and the healthy establishment of plants. Contractors Zachary Construction and C3 Environmental installed 40,000 sq ft of GrassProtecta along the river, establishing a network of trails that is used by maintenance vehicles and leads to a boat launch for kayak and canoe use.

In addition to providing a vegetated surface capable of withstanding regular vehicle use, the paths were able to withstand flooding in early 2013, when more than 15 in. of rain fell on San Antonio, covering a large portion of the city. The mesh, established with turf and native plantings, remained in place throughout the flood event and helped prevent further erosion along the riverbank and reduce storm water runoff into the water system.  

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