SCA AmeriCorps Members Help NYC Drinking Water by Protecting Catskill Streams
The Student Conservation Association (SCA), the nation’s oldest and largest youth conservation corps, teamed up with Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District and NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on September 15-17, 2010 to help restore an eroding section of the Schoharie Creek and protect water quality. This 3-day service project took place along the Schoharie just upstream of its confluence with the Batavia Kill in Prattsville, and involved planting 4,000 trees and installing various soil bioengineering treatments. SCA Hudson Valley AmeriCorps members worked very hard to restore the stream’s riparian buffer (streamside vegetation zone) in order to prevent pollutants from entering the stream, protect against erosion, and improve both aquatic and terrestrial habitat. This riparian buffer planting project was primarily organized by Robyn Worcester, Education & Outreach SCA Intern with Greene County Soil & Water Conservation District
The Schoharie Creek serves New York City as a drinking water supply source. In order to ensure that the NYC drinking water retains its very high quality, NYC DEP has been working in partnership with Greene County Soil & Water Conservation District since 1996 to perform stream management planning, monitoring, and restoration actions that focus on minimizing the degradation of the water supply. This service project supported DEP’s mission of protecting the NYC water supply, as well as provided habitat enhancement to the Catskills, and training/professional growth opportunities to SCA members.
This planting project utilized several soil bioengineering methods in order to help stabilize and revegetate the riparian buffer zone: fascines, vertical bundles, and live stake cuttings. Fascines and vertical bundles are both constructed out of willow cuttings, and are approximately 15 feet long. Both of these bioengineering treatments are assembled by bundling willow cuttings together and tying with twine. Fascines are typically buried parallel to stream flow, while vertical bundles are installed perpendicular to flow. Live stakes, the third bioengineering treatment utilized, are short cuttings of live willow material that are hammered into the soil near the stream. They will eventually sprout roots and protect the bank from erosion.
With the assistance of GCSWCD and DEP employees, the 25 SCA members succeeded in planting 4000 native trees and shrubs, 960 herbaceous plugs, 2000 willow tublings, 15 fascines, 8 vertical bundles, and 400 live stakes in the 4.85-acre planting area along the Schoharie Creek.