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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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A brush dam is just a big pile of trees and brush jammed into an eroding seasonal creek.  It functions to slow the water and filter out organic material, eventually allowing soil to form and plants to grow, stopping the erosion.  

Here's a video in which someone shows a naturally formed brush dam and how it functions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=praOxBqyHFs

 
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