The U.S. Forest Service, the Chicago-based Openlands Project and a group of volunteers found a Model XL 2200 Gradall® excavator perfect in size and versatility to help them restore the eroding banks of the Prairie Creek south of Joliet, Illinois. Located in the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, the project sought to control severe erosion, which had created four-foot vertical cuts, and to reduce long-term sediment travel to the Kankakee River and beyond. In addition, there was a keen interest in saving some 65 species of fish and aquatic organisms that live in the creek. The hope was to create natural bank slopes, place dirt and boulders where appropriate, then plant deep-rooted grass and plants, which are held in place by a carpet made of coconut fibers until they take root.
The Model XL 2200 Gradall excavator, obtained from Thornton Equipment Services, Inc., was small enough to be transported on a tag trailer pulled by a dump truck that was being used to haul rocks and boulders to the site, thereby saving transportation costs before it even started to work. The tilting boom on the machine was able to distribute soil and transform four-foot vertical cuts made by erosion, creating bank slopes that match the surrounding areas. Precise boom controls also allowed the operator to backfill over the erosion mat without destroying the fabric. Unique Gradall boom movements enabled the operator to place clusters of one-ton boulders to deflect the flow of water away from the bank. "The precision movements and power of the machine are what we need to do good restoration work in sensitive areas," said Karl Forge, hydrologist for the U.S. Forest Service. Kent Taylor, product manager, added: "The key is to minimize disturbance of existing plants and root structure and to not disrupt the integrity of the site. The XL 2200 is definitely the right tool for the job."
For more information about Gradall excavators call (800) 445-4752.