Golf course erosion project begins

Work started late last week on an erosion-control project at Buffalo Hill Golf Course in Kalispell.

The project aims to stabilize the bank of the Stillwater River, which runs adjacent to the course and impacts the No. 7 green. Work is expected to conclude today or Tuesday.

City Parks and Recreation Director Mike Baker described it as a cooperative project between the golf course and the city. The city owns 240 acres and leases it to the Kalispell Golf Association.

The project will build a tiered set of lifts, Baker said. These will slow the speed of the river and allow sediment to drop out of the river onto the river bank. “It’s kind of a unique process,” he said.

Baker noted that there has been quite a bit of erosion on the bank over the past few years and there is potential for more.

The city and golf course management wanted to get the project completed before spring runoff begins.

Steve Dunfee, manager of the golf course, came before the City Council Feb. 7 and requested financial assistance for the project. Specifically, Dunfee requested some lease credits.

The council postponed any action on Dunfee’s request since necessary permits had not been obtained at the time. The consensus of the council was that the city would offer some sort of assistance for the project in the future.

The erosion project is estimated to cost $101,000, including $64,000 of in-kind contributions, said hydrologist Marc Spratt.

Spratt works for RLK Hydro Inc., the engineering company on the project. The engineering portion is $40,000-plus, Dunfee said.

The city is contributing in-kind assistance on the project, including labor and machinery. Flathead Valley Community College students are contributing as part of a work experience program, Dunfee said.

The existing bank is being excavated to create a five-foot bench, according to Spratt. Then 12- to 18-inch earth-filled rolls surrounded by coconut fabric will be put in place. Willow stems will be stacked on top of the rolls. The earth-filled rolls and willow stems will be stacked until the annual high-water mark is reached.

This type of project has been used for some 15 years with good results, Spratt said. He cited similar projects on the Missouri and Madison rivers and Lake Helena.

The coconut-fabric, earth-filled rolls and willow stems are better for the environment, including fish, birds and animals, Spratt said. It is an example of the type of treatment that replaces rock riprap, which could accelerate erosion downstream and upstream.

The project will be 254 feet long. It is part of a continuous upgrade of the golf course, Dunfee said.


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