River Warrior Volunteers Team Up with River Authority for Stream Restoration Efforts

The River Authority
Oct 19, 2021

Photo credit: Vanessa Velazquez

As part of our commitment to safe, clean, and enjoyable creeks and rivers, the San Antonio River Authority (River Authority) leads stream restoration efforts to improve the physical, chemical, and biological functions of a stream system. Stream restoration is defined as the transformation of a degraded stream corridor to its condition prior to human disturbance. Physical functions that might be improved are reduction in bank erosion and a self-sustaining water and sediment movement that does not require human intervention.

The Beaver Dam Pilot Program is one of the most recent stream restoration efforts led by the River Authority to address the erosion issues at the Medina River Natural Area. Read along to learn more about this pilot program and how you can get involved!

Medina River Beaver Dam Pilot Program

A completed flood control manmade structure that's part of the Medina River Beaver Dam Pilot Program

Photo credit: Vanessa Velazquez

The Medina River Natural Area has developed extensive erosion valleys contributing to sedimentation in the Medina River, affecting water quality and aquatic habitats. To address the needs of volunteerism in the community and to pilot test an alternative form of erosion control, the River Authority’s Ecological Engineering Team, in collaboration with the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department, proposed a pilot project involving the River Authority’s River Warrior volunteers. The idea was to build a series of post-assisted log structures in the erosion valleys using local mesquite logs and brush materials and build mini dams to reduce the loss of sediment, allowing nature to rebuild and stabilize the erosion valleys.

This innovative pilot project proposes building 100 of these types of structures and assessing the outcomes. In preparation for the workdays, River Authority staff provided virtual trainings for building these dams for volunteers during the COVID-19 lockdown, and in September 2021, volunteers went on a site visit to look at the prototype dam and to learn firsthand the extent of erosion damage in the area.

The first River Warrior volunteer workday will be held on October 28, 2021, and the two volunteer shifts have already been filled due to the expressed interest and excitement of our dedicated River Warriors. This is the first project of its kind in Texas and, if this project delivers successful outcomes, it has the potential to be employed on lands all over the state!

Join us in our efforts by becoming a River Warrior!

River Warrior volunteers take part in a Medina River Beaver Dam Pilot Program training session

Photo credit: Vanessa Velazquez

The River Warriors are registered River Authority volunteers over the age of 15 who are inspired and energized by our work and want to support the health of the San Antonio River Basin by becoming ambassadors for the San Antonio River.

Visit the Volunteer page of the River Authority’s website to learn more about the volunteer opportunities, including the River Warrior program. After scrolling through the page, you can register to become a River Warrior and receive information and opportunities via email about participating in virtual and in-person trainings as well as volunteer events such as post-storm event litter cleanups, ecosystem restoration plantings and projects, sustainable best management practices, and future Beaver Dam Pilot Program trainings and workdays!