News: Corps employees save tax dollars at Moccasin Bend
Story by Leon Roberts
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – A bank stabilization project on a 1,500-foot stretch along the Tennessee River at Moccasin Bend is nearing completion, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees are saving taxpayer dollars in the process.
According to Amanda Burt, project manager, a half a dozen employees from the Nashville District Planning Branch recently asked if they could install coir fiber wattle (a circular mesh that runs across the entire embankment) to mitigate erosion and to plant 500 saplings when it appeared the contract bid would be abnormally high. With approval, the employees are doing the work this week and saving the National Military Park’s Moccasin Bend National Archeological District more than $100,000, she said.
“After we get it installed we’ll monitor it for about 18 months just to make sure that the trees live,” Burt said.
Moccasin Bend is a peninsula formed by a prominent bend in the Tennessee River. It is situated to the west and just across the river from downtown Chattanooga. Moccasin Bend National Archeological District contains nationally significant archeological sites that chronicle approximately 12,000 years of continuous American Indian occupation. This project is important to the national military park because erosion is eating away at several miles along the bank and threatens the park’s cultural resources.
James P. Szyjkowski, chief of resource management for the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park and the project’s liaison, said protecting the area from further erosion is really important to the National Park Service.
“The river itself was eating away at the resources and washing them away,” Szyjkowski said. “So it was very important for us to stabilize the bank to prevent this loss of archaeological resources.”
With wet weather conditions, the Corps team has been hiking to the site daily to avoid disturbing the land and even delivered needed supplies via a barge from its Chickamauga Lock maintenance facility.
Valerie McCormack, the Nashville District’s archeological liaison, is among the laborers doing the work and she noted that culturally the protection of artifacts and burial sites at Moccasin Bend are very important to numerous Native American tribes and to the nation.
The significance of historical preservation in the area, importance of completing the bank stabilization project, and cost savings are the reasons Corps employees wanted to do the work, McCormack said.
Other employees involved in the bank stabilization at Moccasin Bend include Kimberly Franklin, Matthew Granstaff, Chip Hall and Mark Vaughan from the Nashville District Planning Branch. Matt Emmons, Keith Saylor and Eugene Hixon from Chickamauga Lock in Chattanooga, Tenn., assisted with delivering and unloading supplies on site.
The Corps kicked off this portion of the riverbank stabilization in December 2010 during a ceremony that included Corps and National Park officials and former 3rd District Congressman Zack Wamp.
Wamp is credited for championing legislation for the riverbank stabilization work to protect the heritage at Moccasin Bend. During the ceremony, he stressed how grateful he was for the partnership between the Corps and National Park Service.
“These are two of the good agencies of the federal government that do real important work,” Wamp said.