Trees in the river

Erosion blamed as branches, trunks tumble down banks

Those who float down the Muskingum River from the Indian Acres boat ramp may notice a few newer additions obstructing the waterway.

“There are a couple trees in the water more toward the boat ramp,” noted Jessica Talbott, who led a guided kayak trip Tuesday night for the Marietta Adventure Company.

Five large trees have dropped either sizeable branches or their entire trunks into the eastern side of the river between the ramp and the Marietta Boat Club.

“But since the Muskingum is such a large river, trees falling isn’t going to immediately obstruct travel,” Talbott added.

Still, Marietta public facilities workers have worked to clear some of the obstructions.

“We made an attempt to get them out using the fire department’s boat and a chainsaw,” said Supervisor Tanner Huffman. “It’s so different when you’re trying to saw a tree from land than when you’re on a boat that’s constantly moving, though.”

Huffman said his team was able to clear a good bit of debris but that the largest tree trunk will need more professional handling.

“We hauled a bunch of branches out that we cut and cleared a tree that was really close to one of the gas pumps out there,” he said. “But these trees are absolutely massive so it’s not easy to do without the right equipment.”

Huffman said his crew generally does maintenance of the trees in the parks, keeping windows overlooking the river clear in front of park benches and picking up debris that has fallen after storms.

Safety-Service Director Jonathan Hupp said if Huffman has funds within his miscellaneous contractor line item to take care of the obstruction then a company can be selected from three quotes to take care of the tree.

“If not then we’ll go to (Marietta City Council’s) Finance Committee and have a transfer,” said Hupp. “But prior to the city contracting any individual to remove trees we’d give Mother Nature an opportunity to remedy the situation on her own. If that doesn’t happen then we’ll contract someone to remove the obstruction.”

But Hupp clarified that the downed trees are not suspected to have fallen because of any erosion along the riverbank.

“Many trees fall because they are so tall and top heavy that the soft soil between the parks and the river cannot hold them in place,” he said.

Streets Superintendent Todd Stockel said in other areas along the city’s riverbank riprap has been piled in the past to prevent erosion.

“Or we’ve used concrete slabs stacked into the riverbed,” he explained. “Generally if public facilities sees a problem we do what we can to help.”

Talbott said if the trees accumulate other debris over time they could pose a hazard for boaters, but hopes they will be removed or dislodged before that could occur.

“With a lot of boat traffic or with inexperienced kayakers that could be a safety concern,” she explained. “Or for boats that are out at night without proper lighting.”

At a glance

¯ Five top-heavy trees along the Muskingum River’s eastern bank between the Indian Acres boat ramp and the Marietta Boat Club have caught the attention of boaters and city administration.

¯ What could be cleared was taken care of by public facilities with the city’s fire boat.

¯ Additional work may be contracted out to remove the larger trunks.

Source: Marietta City Administration.