GCSWCD hosts SCA Hudson Valley Corps members for riprian buffer projects on the Schoharie Creek
The Student Conservation Association (SCA) teamed up with the Greene County Soil & Water Conservation District (GCSWCD) and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) on September 11, 2016 as part of a weekend service project for the Patriot's Day of Service.
Over 40 SCA Hudson Valley Corps members gathered in Hunter for a planting project to restore riparian (streamside) buffers in the NYC watershed. In five hours, the hardworking Corps members installed a total of 2,335 native trees and shrubs, 250 feet of willow fascines, and 180 live willow stakes within riparian buffer zones along the Schoharie Creek.
Riparian buffers are vegetated or undisturbed natural areas along a stream, usually forested with a variety of grasses, shrubs, and trees. Healthy riparian buffers help to protect a waterbody by improving water quality, increasing habitat for animals, stabilizing streambanks, providing stream shade and temperature control, and improving flood control.
Split into two project sites along the Schoharie Creek, the Corps members restored riparian buffers by planting pioneer species such as gray birch and white pine, along with common riparian species like red osier dogwood, elderberry, and buttonbush. Tree and shrub species were chosen for their ability to produce a deep rooting system and stabilize the soil, which helps to prevent streambank erosion. In an additional effort to increase soil stabilization, willow fascines and live willow stakes were installed on a portion of streambank that experienced significant erosion after Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011. Willow fascines and live willow stakes are both bioengineering techniques that use live cuttings harvested from existing willows. The cuttings will eventually root and grow into new willow plants, and their high rate of growth and deep rooting system are perfect for streambank stabilization projects.