Community | Conservation

Double dose: Volunteers plant riparian edges of two New York trout streams

The Trees for Tribs Program from New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation provides Trout Unlimited with bare root and potted trees to plant along trout streams.

Being a stream guy, I had to take advantage of the offer, made possible by funding from the Arbor Day Foundation.

Walking through the tree garden I had my choice of what we could plant that is native to our area streams. I loaded up the pickup bed, stashed some in the back seat and had a few riding shotgun up front with me. It was good.

I hooked up my trailer filled with home made compost and headed to the Ausable, where I met five other volunteers. Len Carbonara from Indian Lake and Herb Colby from Potsdam are two of my fly-fishing buds. Along with John Fik, Myra Lawyer, and Daniel Berheide we commenced to digging, planting and spreading manure on a recent sunny spring day.

After a few hours, we completed a single swath of trees planted in an 8-foot-wide, 1200-foot-long stretch of streambank between the river and the road.

Highway fill along the river is shot rock riprap, so we had to stay as close to the top bank and river as possible to find good soil.  That allowed only one row of trees. Highway maintenance mows alongside the guard rails, so giving the mowers room to do their thing is important.

Traffic was moving so safety vests were a must. We ran two wheelbarrows filled with potted trees and compost along the road to our chosen spots. Salty, droughty and nutrient poor soils make survival tough, but the compost will add nutrients and hold moisture.

 We still need periodic rains, so the vegetation makes it through the first year.

The goal is to have future trees that will shade the river. Last year temperatures recorded 80 degrees during one hot spell. Trout need cool water areas where they can hide when temps rise.

The second day of our young forestry adventure involved planting trees along the Boquet River in Elizabethtown.

Volunteers planted trees along a 200-yard stretch of the Boquet River.

We had landowner permission to plant near the old Hewett digger dam on the E-Town Wadhams Road. In two hours, we completed 200 yards of tree planting with the five of us.

Myra, Daniel and I were back for day two, along with John Spissinger (Peru) and Reed Atkinson (Riverview) who joined us.  John and Reed are both TU board members. We practice what we preach!

With travel time considered, along with the actual work, I figured we had 70 hours of volunteer time getting trees planted.

A total of 263 potted plants were used, including white and red pine, spruce, grey birch, alder, and swamp rose were planted.

In all, Trout Unlimited’s partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation will lead to 1,300 trees being planted along streams across New York this spring.

Two thousand feet on two rivers — a double dose of future shade is now planted.

We may never see the results, but our grandkids will. One day they can sit on the bank under one of those shade trees and say, “My grandpa planted these”.

True blue conservation can be done at a very low cost, by people who are willing to give.

Both the future and the fish will benefit.