SCA Service Project with Greene County Soil & Water Conservation District and NYC Department of Environmental Protection
September 15-17, 2010
On September 15-17, 2010, approximately 25 members of the SCA Hudson Valley AmeriCorps program came together in Prattsville, NY with Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District (GCSWCD) and New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to help restore an eroding section of the Schoharie Creek and protect water quality. This 3-day service project involved planting trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plugs, and installing streambank soil bioengineering treatments to help re-vegetate the riparian buffer zone. This project was undertaken as part of NYC DEP’s efforts to preserve the high quality of New York City’s drinking water supply source (Catskill streams) in lieu of constructing a muli-billion-dollar drinking water filtration plant.
This riparian buffer planting project was primarily organized by Robyn Worcester, Education & Outreach SCA intern with Greene County Soil & Water Conservation District. She was inspired to undertake this project after attending a 2-day DEP-sponsored training on Streambank Soil Bioengineering in April, 2010. Robyn also had help from other SCA interns Erin Burton, Jenine Tobey, and Ann Pedtke, who each lead work stations during the project. Erin lead the rip rap interplanting station, and she and the other SCA members succeeded in installing 2,000 willow tublings into 18,600 square feet of rip rap. Jenine was the leader responsible for the installation of bioengineering treatments. She and the other SCA members installed 15 fascines (255 linear feet), 8 vertical bundles (64 linear feet), and 400 live stakes in order to protect the streambank from erosion. Ann was responsible for overseeing the tree and shrub planting. She and the SCA interns planted 4,000 trees in the 4.85 acre streamside planting area. SCA members also planted 960 herbaceous plugs during this service project.
In addition to the amazing amount of work that the SCA members accomplished during this service project, there were also several training/learning opportunities. Dave Burns from the NYC DEP Stream Management Program gave an introductory presentation on the NYC water supply and its associated water quality preservation programs. In addition, Robyn Worcester gave an introductory presentation on the streambank soil bioengineering techniques that would be used during the service project. SCA members also were able to visit a stream restoration site that was completed in 2007 to see what a restoration project looks like several years after planting. Joel DuBois, GCSWCD program specialist, showed SCA members around the site, and talked about the project and the restoration techniques that were used. Finally, SCA members also got to learn about the history behind the Civilian Conservation Corps from Diane Galusha, Communications Director of the Catskill Watershed Corporation. This talk was especially appropriate because SCA members camped at North/South Lake Campground, which was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Robyn’s Experience Organizing the Service Project:
I enjoyed organizing this service project very much. I was glad that I had several months between having the project accepted by SCA (April) and the project date (Sept 15-17), since I had never organized a large, multi-day service project before. This gave me plenty of time to make sure that I took care of every angle. I wanted to be involved in as many aspects of the project as I could, so I worked with Joel DuBois and Laura Weyeneth (both GCSWCD employees) on the project’s planting plan and design. I also had help from my supervisor, Josh Gorman, during the planning process. He checked in with me frequently to make sure that everything was on-track and going well. I also received advice from NYC DEP employees Dave Burns and Jenn Grieser during my planning process. Receiving support and assistance from all these different sources was generally very helpful, though occasionally I found it hard to reconcile everyone’s differing opinions (mostly on the planting plan, how many trees to deliver, what potted stock to use, etc.).
All in all, I’m extremely glad that I got to organize this SCA service project. Practically the entire GCSWCD office came out to support me as the project drew close and we needed to prep and stage the planting area. We had about 3 weeks’ worth of prep (delivering trees, digging holes, watering trees, cutting willow material, etc.) to get the project site ready for the SCA planting. This was a great bonding opportunity for me with the other GCSWCD employees, and helped the service project go very smoothly. Communicating with SCA throughout my planning process also went very well, and the SCA Service Project Handbook made it very easy for me to complete all the necessary pre-project paperwork. I feel extremely proud of myself for organizing such a large service project, and I’m very pleased with how smoothly the project and planning stages went, and how much work we were able to accomplish.