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