Wood straw used to stabilize ground along side Routt County road as project comes to close | SteamboatToday.com

Wood straw used to stabilize ground along side Routt County road as project comes to close

— The project will be finished when the grass is growing on the slopes of a hillside about eight miles south of Steamboat Springs on Routt County Road 33, according to Routt County Road and Bridge Director Janet Hruby.

Crews from Routt County Road and Bridge have spent the better part of the summer extending a culvert by 45 feet and moving dirt to stabilize a slope that runs alongside the popular roadway near Steamboat Springs. The work also created a shoulder along the road. The work was needed to prevent sloughing that could have threatened the roadway itself.

The earthwork has been completed, and Friday, crews from Mountain Pine Manufacturing sprayed wood straw onto the recently disturbed areas.

"We did it in-house and moved a lot of dirt on that one," Hruby said on Friday morning.

Now, one of her biggest concerns is ensuring the dirt remains in place until vegetation, which will secure the slope, can grow. She said she will not consider the project complete until she sees vegetation growing on the hillside that was lengthened as part of the project. She added she is eager to see how things turn out next spring.

"It will be interesting to see how it turns out,” she said. “If things go well, it could be a win-win-win.”

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It's a win because the hill should be more stable, and it will be a win because the county saved money using a locally produced product know as wood straw.

Mountain Pine Manufacturing President Trent Jones, who was onsite Friday watching the work, is also excited to see his product being used locally. The company has produced the wood straw for more than five years, and it has been in demand across the country. But he said this project is different, and for the first time, he is getting to see the product his company produces used locally.

He said the material is currently being used by the Colorado Department of Transportation and has made a name in the oil and gas industry in Wyoming, where companies are hoping to prevent erosion in areas disturbed by ongoing projects. Jones said his product, which is made from wood scrap and beetle kill, has already proven to be effective, and he is excited it's being sought out locally as an alternative to coconut erosion control blankets and hydroseeding, which can be more costly.

"This is about half the cost of doing rolled erosion blankets," Jones said. "The road and bridge engineer was super excited … he thinks if it holds on this steep ground, it could become a mainstream thing. We honestly haven't sold a lot of it locally, so it is nice to see the county step up to the plate and say, ‘Hey. Lets give this a try.'"

Hruby is also excited to see how Mountain Pine’s product holds up and whether it’s effective. If the product lives up to it’s billing, she said, the country could go back to the local company in the future.

“It’s great that it’s made right here,” Hruby said. “It’s always better if we can use something that is made locally.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966