Streambank Bioengineering Underway along the Bushkill

Posted on: November 23rd, 2016 by Leslie_Zucker

A project is underway to revegetate streambanks along the Bushkill in the Town of Olive. The project just off Watson Hollow Rd. is the first streambank bioengineering project undertaken by the Catskill Streams Buffer Initiative (CSBI) in the Ashokan Watershed. Bioengineering is an approach that uses live plant material to stabilize streambanks and restore natural vegetation along streams. The Bushkill project uses live fascines – or bundles of woody plant stems – and vertical stakes and poles driven into the fascines to revegetate streambanks.

Bundles of woody stems, called fascines, are ready for installation.

Bundles of woody stems, called fascines, are ready for installation.

The fascines are 20-ft long twine-wrapped bundles of stems cut from willow, dogwood, and alder species. Vertical stakes are cuttings from sycamore, alder, willow, and dogwood. Assuming the live cuttings stay in contact with moisture-containing soils, they will sprout and grow next spring. Fascines made from live cuttings enjoy a much higher success rate than potted plants, up to 90% survival rates according to CSBI Program Coordinator Bobby Taylor. The cuttings are dormant this fall and will not suffer from the rough treatment and cold temperatures.

Bobby says the fascines, which are placed parallel to the stream channel, are being used to provide root stabilization of the entire streambank. The live material, which was harvested locally, is also much less expensive than potted plants. Fascines can withstand higher flows that may occur in the spring, and are less resistant to wash out. The native shrub species used have flexible stems that tend not to trap debris and are adapted to shady conditions in the stream corridor.

Vertical posts staked into buried fascines along the Bushkill in the Town of Olive.

Vertical posts staked into fascines buried in trenches along the Bushkill in the Town of Olive.

About 1,200 ft of streambank (along 600 ft of stream) will be stabilized with over 1,000, 20-ft fascines by project end. The project is being constructed by Fastracs Inc. Excavating out of Red Hook, NY. About two dozen crew members for Fastracs are installing the project over a three-week period.

The project was designed by One Nature LLC in Beacon, NY. Bobby Taylor and Adam Doan of Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) provided project management on behalf of the AWSMP. Tiffany Runge, also with SWCD, is conducting as-built survey of the project site.