The Nature Conservancy Launches Floodplain Forest Restoration Project Along the Neversink River
Habitat Restoration and Flood Protection are Priorities
Volunteers from Trout Unlimited help to install deer fencing.
Nature Conservancy staff from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania plant trees at Spring Brook, a tributary of the Neversink River.
The Nature Conservancy is working to restore floodplain forests and reconnect floodplains on Conservancy-owned former agricultural properties along the Neversink River.
This first phase of the restoration project, partially funded by Trout Unlimited via funds from the Millennium Pipeline Stream Improvement Fund, focuses on restoring the floodplain forest around Spring Brook, a small, cold, groundwater fed tributary to the Neversink River.
“A more substantial floodplain forest around Spring Brook will help lower water velocities and increase deposition of sediments and debris onto the floodplain instead of within the channel, protecting habitat for native brook trout, which are increasingly threatened by warming streams and increasingly severe flood events,” says fisheries ecologist Mari-Beth DeLucia.
“Floodplain storage can help diminish peak floods and reduce the damage caused by high flows or ice. Floodplains also capture sediment and debris which helps to improve water quality,” adds DeLucia.
Based upon research done by Union College Professor Jeff Corwin, the restoration strategy involves planting small patches of trees in clusters.
“Our aim is to establish forest canopy cover as quickly as possible,” says stewardship program coordinator Matt Levy. “To achieve this, we plant the trees in large, mixed-species clusters rather than in plantation rows. The cluster method has been shown to more readily attract birds and other seed-dispersing wildlife than does planting in rows. The result is a faster and more random recruitment of new tree seedlings that better mimics the composition and distribution of a naturally occurring forest.”
Additional tree planting and restoration work is scheduled for the fall. The Spring Brook restoration is the first phase of a larger plan for restoring all of the Conservancy’s Neversink floodplains over the next several years. Long-term goals include removing a large earthen berm along the river to allow floodwaters to access the natural undeveloped floodplain instead of following downstream towards areas prone to flooding.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.