Group fights post-flooding plant invasion along Schoharie
FULTONHAM When Tropical Storm Irene swept away vegetation along miles of the Schoharie Creek shoreline, it left large swaths of land vulnerable to invasive plants.
As weeds start to take root in the land that remains, a Catskill-based conservation organization is calling for the public’s help to f ght against the threat.
The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development’s Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership, or CRISP, is holding a treeplanting event Saturday, and they need about 40 people to help out.
The group hopes to plant roughly 1,000 trees and shrubs in Schoharie County near Route 30 in Fultonham, about a quarter-mile north of the Old Blenheim Covered Bridge site.
After last year’s flooding, it was clear that numerous acres of denuded land left an open invitation for invasive plants, CRISP coordinator Meredith Taylor said.
“After the flooding, we knew that Japanese knotweed was going to start popping up all over, and we really wanted to play an active role,” she said.
The organization sought a grant to support the project but were unsuccessful.
Officials from the state Department of Environmental Conservation Mohawk River Basin program’s Trees for Tribs Program and Hudson River Trees for Tribs Program stepped in and provided the trees.
Taylor said state Department of Transportation representatives pointed out the Fultonham locale as an ideal spot for an anti-invasive tree-planting effort following massive work to rebuild Route 30.
Taylor said they will be getting dogwoods, oaks and maples, among other species, to plant on the site.
Peter Nichols, stream program manager at the Schoharie County Soil and Water Conservation District, said in an email that vegetation along shorelines will do a lot more than help prevent the spread of invasive species.
Healthy streamside vegetation, called “riparian buffers,” helps keep pollutants like sediment, nitrogen and pesticides from reaching the water.
Shade from vegetation also helps cool the water for fi sh and invertebrates and increases dissolved oxygen, which improves water quality, Nichols said.
Deer and rabbits use streamside vegetation for cover, and vegetation along the creek also helps slow down floodwater and traps sediment, which slows down erosion.
Once that floodwater is slowed down, it absorbs into the ground more easily and recharges aquifers, Nichols said.
The target area for Saturday’s project represents roughly 398,000 square feet of lost vegetation.
“There are many sections throughout the county with this same degree of damage,” Nichols said.
He hopes that the project will also spark further efforts to contend with the massive scope of vegetation loss left in Tropical Storm Irene’s wake.
“Our hope is that it opens the door to many other volunteer efforts to protect one of our most valuable resources,” Nichols said.
The tree-planting will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at 2066 Route 30 in Fultonham.
Taylor said people don’t have to register. But she said if she knows how many volunteers are coming, she’ll be able to bring enough brownies for everyone. Those willing to volunteer can contact her at 845-586-2611 or via email at email@example.com.