Buffer Planting on Broadstreet Hollow

Posted on: December 5th, 2014 by Leslie_Zucker

Yes­ter­day, I par­tic­i­pat­ed in a ripar­i­an buffer restora­tion car­ried out by the Ulster Coun­ty Soil and Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict through the Catskill Streams Buffer Ini­tia­tive (CSBI). The pro­gram helps landown­ers man­age, restore and sta­bi­lize stream­side spaces, which also improves water qual­i­ty and helps to reduce the growth of inva­sive plants in Ulster County.

Dur­ing Hur­ri­cane Irene’s mem­o­rable vis­it to the Catskills in 2011, exten­sive dam­age was done by the pow­er of wind and water. The creek along Broad­street Hol­low Road was no excep­tion. A local landown­er, rec­og­niz­ing the need for stream­side man­age­ment and restora­tion, con­nect­ed with CSBI to devel­op a ripar­i­an cor­ri­dor man­age­ment plan and project after wit­ness­ing the val­ue of native stream­side veg­e­ta­tion for sta­bi­liz­ing banks. Inva­sive plants chok­ing the site were removed to make way for the plant­i­ng of hun­dreds of native trees and shrubs that will help to pro­tect and sta­bi­lize the ripar­i­an corridor.

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Cap­i­tal­iz­ing on an unusu­al­ly warm day in late Novem­ber, I joined the CSBI team to help fin­ish the instal­la­tion of the native plant buffer along Broad­street Hol­low Creek. Once the plant­i­ng area was cleared of inva­sive plants, to be removed and chipped, the team set to work grad­ing the slope and prepar­ing the site for planting.

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With the assis­tance of an auger machine to dig holes in the rocky soil on the prop­er­ty, we set to work plant­i­ng trees and shrubs that will bloom with flow­ers in the spring and pro­duce berries in the autumn. The berries are a valu­able food source for wildlife liv­ing in the ripar­i­an area.

My expe­ri­ence in plant­i­ng ripar­i­an buffers in pre­vi­ous years has always been in non-glacial soils, so this plant­i­ng process was a bit unique for me. Plant­i­ng in glacial till requires some.….altercation with rocks, and large rocks at that! Over the course of the morn­ing and after­noon, we dug holes, removed and rearranged rocks, which ranged in size from mar­bles to serv­ing plat­ters, and lev­eled out and arranged soil deposits around each plant to ensure the best pos­si­ble growth and sur­vival potential.

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By the end of the day, we trans­formed a mud­dy stream­side slope into a veg­e­tat­ed buffer that is meant to func­tion not only for flood man­age­ment, stream ero­sion con­trol, and water qual­i­ty improve­ment, but also to pro­vide habi­tat that is visu­al­ly pleas­ing. It was hard work to be sure, mov­ing plants, rocks, roots and soil, but mean­ing­ful and infor­ma­tive as well, as I learned about dif­fer­ent plant species, some of the flu­vial geo­mor­phic his­to­ry of the stream, and buffer design dynam­ics. This project was inter­est­ing, and though I was only intro­duced at its final stage, I look for­ward to future plant­i­ngs in the spring, and also to vis­it­ing this site to observe its growth in com­ing months and years. I hope the project serves as yet anoth­er won­der­ful exam­ple of stream restora­tion and man­age­ment success.

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For more infor­ma­tion on the stream­side buffer plant­i­ngs and the CSBI pro­gram, call the AWSMP’s Catskill Streams Buffer Ini­tia­tive Coor­di­na­tor, Bob­by Tay­lor at (845) 688‑3047, Ext. 6.

Writ­ten by Jen Bow­man, Water­shed Educator