Erosion prevention and control due to construction, agriculture, landscaping, or restoration work is an important element for repairing and protecting the soil after a disturbance or natural events (Benik et al. 2003; Kaufman 2000). The purpose of erosion control is to prevent the movement of topsoil and sediment and to assist vegetation establishment (Rivas 2006; RUSLE2). Unfortunately, some erosion control methods, while protecting the soil, can harm wildlife and the environment (Ward et al. 2020). Depending on the type of erosion control used, wildlife can become entangled suffering injuries and death (Black 2003; Ebert et al. 2019; Kapfer et al. 2011; Stuart et al. 2001; Ward et al. 2020). When using erosion control products with plastics it can lead to multiple wildlife and environmental problems in addition to entanglement, such as ingestion of plastics across many wildlife taxa and breaking down of harmful plastics into the environment as microplastics (Rich et al. 2020, USGS 2016). It is more common to hear about plastics causing harm in marine ecosystems (Thiel et al. 2016; USGS 2016), but these products also damage and injure terrestrial systems and wildlife (Ward et al. 2020).
Erosion control products (ECPs) come in many different shapes, sizes, and materials. Products range from spray on mulches, netting, blankets, mats, wattles (fiber rolls), and reinforced fencing (ECTC 2021). The variety of erosion control products can be linked to the various topography and soil types that need erosion control. The slope, potential water flow velocity, desired plant species, ecosystem, and soil type, along with the longevity of need over time all influence which products are used (Rivas 2006). A cluster analysis of ECPs approved in Texas found that 86% used mesh, with 71% of that mesh made from polypropylene (Jobe et al. 2020). But even across varying environmental conditions, it is still possible to choose ECPs that reduce harm to wildlife and the environment.
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