Almost universally, plant materials are critical to the long term success of stream restoration projects, and they must be available both in sufficient quantities and at the appropriate times. To address current and anticipated needs for native plant materials, the GCSWCD, in cooperation with NYSDEC, US EPA and NYCDEP has initiated a program to develop sources of plant materials, as well as equipment to assist in the establishment of riparian buffers.
The District has a comprehensive plant materials program, which places primary emphasis on development of multiple sources of plant materials as well as improvements in establishment rates, flexibility in seasonal plantings, and sustainability of the plantings once they are established.
Plant Materials Center
The District has a Plant Materials Center in Maplecrest that houses many different species of potted native Catskill trees and shrubs, sedges, and willow tubelings. The plant beds are equiped with a complete irrigation system, and the sedges are kept in wet beds. Many plant materials were produced via the native seed collection program which was initiatied in 2008. The District also utilizes RPM (root production method) native Catskill trees and shrubs.
Since 2007, GCSWCD and NYCDEP staff has planted Plant Materials Center trees and shrubs at the majority of stream restoration projects and are monitoring 10% of the trees at each site.
During the fall of 2007, 200 RPM trees were planted on 8 different sites.
Sedges were planted in beds at the Plant Materials Center during the spring of 2007 and were over-wintered to establish better root growth. The project team also potted 7950 trees during the spring of 2007, and planted the nearly 5000 trees at 5 different project sites.
In 2009, approximately 9,000 trees and shrubs were over-wintered, and 13 planting sites were planted with 4,135 trees and shrubs.
For spring 2010, we have ordered 1,500 RPM trees and took a delivery of 6,000 seedlings from Green Belt Nursery that were grown from native seeds collected in the Catskill Mountains.
To provide for immediate as well as long term plant material needs, the GCSWCD has identified existing natural sources of materials suitable for restoration projects. Stands of willow, suitable for use in bioengineering, have been identified and the District has enter into harvesting agreements with these landowners.
The GCSWCD has also developed a GIS based database for management of the harvest sites which will identify their location, the plant types available, and quantity of materials at each site. The GIS system allows for keeping track of harvest operations and regeneration of the materials for future cuttings.
Tree, Shrub, and Willow Planting on the Ashland Connector Stream Restoration Project
The Ashland Connector Stream Restoration Project was completed in 2006 with the primary goal of mitigating excessive turbidity and total suspended solids impact on water quality by addressing excessive lateral erosion through the use of natural channel design. The project reach is located near the middle of the Batavia Kill main stem, in the Town of Ashland, upstream of the County Route 17 Bridge.
Traditional willow bioengineering practices were utilized on the Ashland Connector Project to aid in riparian vegetation establishment. Fascines (bundles of live willow cuttings) and live willow stakes were planted along the streambanks, and transplanted willow clumps were installed at key stress areas (top of rock structures, outside meander bends). These willow bioengineering methods have served to accelerate vegetation of the reach, and provide extra stabilization to rock structures and streambanks.
The majority of the plant species used in the revegetation of the Ashland Connector Project were procured from GCSWCD's Plant Materials Center. Over 8,000 trees and shrubs from the Plant Materials Center were planted on disturbed sections of the floodplain and terrace slopes. The willows were harvested from local borrow areas. Sod mats were also placed along the top and face of the streambanks, between transplants, to promote streambank revegetation. Short term stabilization of the streambanks and floodplain was accomplished by seeding with temporary seed mix and hydro-mulching.