KEENE VALLEY - Two upcoming events are geared at restoring waterways damaged during and in the aftermath of the flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene on Aug. 28.
Tree planting Friday
Landowners and volunteers are being sought to participate in planting trees along river and stream corridors in the AuSable River valley. The tree planting will be part of an event to launch a new program to restore and protect river and stream corridors in the Lake Champlain watershed. The effort is backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Landowners with property along the AuSable River, either of its branches or any of their tributaries that need trees along the banks can receive free trees from the DEC Saratoga tree nursery, which will be planted by volunteers. The trees will shore up eroded stream banks, protect property from flood damage and improve wildlife habitat. Volunteers are being sought to join federal, state and local officials in planting trees along stream and river banks.
Volunteers will meet at 10 a.m. Friday at Marcy Field along state Route 73 in Keene Valley. Refreshments will be available. After hearing about the new program and receiving encouragement and instruction from officials, volunteers will be assigned to teams and plant trees under the instruction of a team captain. DEC and others will provide transportation for volunteers and trees. The work will wrap up by 4 p.m. or when all trees or sites have been planted, but volunteers do not have to stay until the end. They are asked to dress properly for being outside and the weather conditions for that day, as the event will take place rain or shine. Sturdy hiking shoes or boots will be needed. Volunteers should also bring work gloves, shovels, water bottles, snacks and lunch.
Landowners and volunteers are encouraged to contact their local town office or the DEC (518-897-1291) before the close of business Thursday if they plan to participate. In the town of Keene, contact Supervisor Bill Ferebee at 518-576-4444, and in the town of Jay contact Supervisor Randy Douglas at 518-647-2204.
River walk, talk Oct. 24
The second restoration event will take place Monday, Oct. 24 and include walks with Carl Schwartz of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and John Braico of New York state's Trout Unlimited. The first walk will start at 10 a.m. at the bridge over John's Brook on state Route 73 in Keene Valley. Later in the day at 2 p.m., the group will meet at the gazebo in AuSable Forks and walk the river there.
Both men have worked extensively throughout New York to repair rivers and restore aquatic habitat, according to a press release from the AuSable River Association. Schwartz works actively on river restoration projects and operates an excavator to build natural channels.
This is intended to be a balanced discussion about rebuilding and repairing streams affected by flooding. Funds recently secured by the AuSable River Association for restoring tributaries damaged during Irene flooding will be considered for allocation.
The AuSable River Association and the Essex County Soil and Water Conservation District encourage citizens, town council members, and staff from town and county departments of public works, the DEC, the state Department of Transportation and non-government organizations to attend.
The Lake Champlain conservation projects are receiving $1.3 million as part of President Barack Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative. On Wednesday the Obama administration will release a report which details how America's Great Outdoors is opening up access to lands and waters, restoring critical landscapes and supporting thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity. The report outlines combined conservation and recreation successes, including gains in youth employment, new trail designations, the creation of urban campgrounds and historic investments in large landscapes, from Lake Champlain to the Florida Everglades.