CSBI Ready for Fall Plantings

Posted on: October 14th, 2020 by Brent Gotsch
AWSMP Plant Mate­r­i­al Cen­ter, Fall 2020. Pho­to by Bob­by Tay­lor.

If some­one were to step into the back­yard of the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram (AWSMP) you could for­give them for think­ing they were on the grounds of a plant nurs­ery. That’s because our back­yard is home to the Catskill Streams Buffer Ini­tia­tive (CSBI) Plant Mate­r­i­al Cen­ter (PMC). The PMC is the loca­tion that holds all the plants that we use to reveg­e­tate stream­banks here in the Ashokan Water­shed. CSBI seeks to inform and assist landown­ers with bet­ter stew­ard­ship of their ripar­i­an (stream­side) area through pro­tec­tion, enhance­ment, man­age­ment, or restora­tion. CSBI recent­ly received a large deliv­ery of plants that AWSMP staff helped unload and sort in the PMC.

The plants in these pho­tos will be used in eight plant­i­ng sites this fall and com­ing spring where approx­i­mate­ly 79,156 square feet of stream­bank are slat­ed to be reveg­e­tat­ed. To date 65 landown­ers have had projects com­plet­ed on their prop­er­ties. Over 10,000 trees and shrubs have been plant­ed and over 18,510 feet of stream (or 3.5 miles) have been reveg­e­tat­ed. All told 13.153 acres have been restored since 2009.

Not just any plants are used in these projects. Ripar­i­an plants that are native to the Catskill region are uti­lized for sev­er­al rea­sons. Ripar­i­an plants have strong and robust root sys­tems that grow deep into the soil and inter­lock with roots sys­tems of adja­cent plants. This helps keep the plants firm­ly root­ed in the soil dur­ing floods and has the added ben­e­fit of min­i­miz­ing stream­bank ero­sion. Native Catskill Moun­tain region plants fill an impor­tant eco­log­i­cal niche that non-native plants usu­al­ly do not fill. They pro­vide habi­tat for an assort­ment of oth­er plants and ani­mals includ­ing pol­li­na­tors like bees and but­ter­flies. They pro­vide cov­er for ani­mals help­ing to shield them from preda­tors and shade the stream, keep­ing the water cool for sev­er­al fish species that thrive in cold­er water, such as native brook trout. Fur­ther­more, native ripar­i­an plants are more suit­ed for their envi­ron­ment and require less main­te­nance than non-native orna­men­tal veg­e­ta­tion.

Sev­er­al of the native ripar­i­an plants that are used will be famil­iar to most peo­ple. These include tree species such as red maple (Acer rubrum), sug­ar maple (Acer sac­cha­rum), red oak (Quer­cus rubra), white oak (Quer­cus alba), paper birch (Betu­la papyrifera) and sycamore (Pla­tanus occi­den­tal­is) to name just a few. It also includes shrubs such as win­ter­ber­ry (Ilex ver­ti­cil­late), witch hazel (Hamamelis vir­gini­ana), mead­owsweet (Spi­raea lat­i­fo­lia), elder­ber­ry (Sam­bu­cus nigra), choke­ber­ry (Aro­nia arbu­ti­fo­lia), and but­ton­bush (Cepha­lan­thus occi­den­tal­is) among many oth­ers. In addi­tion, there are sev­er­al dif­fer­ent types of sedges, which are a type of grass that likes to grow in wet, ripar­i­an areas. The PMC cur­rent­ly holds 61 dif­fer­ent species of native plant and there are cur­rent­ly over 2,000 plants in the PMC. The vast major­i­ty will be plant­ed this fall. Any plants not used will be cov­ered in mulch and over­win­tered until the spring where they will be used in plant­i­ng projects for that sea­son.

Projects for this sea­son are already sched­uled, but if you’re inter­est­ed in par­tic­i­pat­ing in the CSBI pro­gram in a future sea­son and have stream­side prop­er­ty in the Ashokan Water­shed, con­tact the CSBI Coor­di­na­tor, Bob­by Tay­lor at 845–688-3047 or at bobby.taylor@ashokanstreams.org.

AWSMP Plant Mate­r­i­al Cen­ter, Fall 2020. Pho­to by Brent Gotsch.
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