Each year we host a stream restoration site tour for our board of directors and lead business partners and donors. This November, participants braved cool weather and a light drizzle to visit two of our completed 2020 projects and learn about what's in store for next year.
Our first stop brought us to Otis Brook in the Town of Jay. Executive director Kelley Tucker explained how Otis Brook was shifted back to its original path by installing a 16-foot wide open-bottom aluminum arch at the appropriate slope. This project restored stream health, fish passage, road safety and will reduce long-term maintenance costs for the Town.
Immediately after construction of a climate-ready culvert is a restored channel with newly rebuilt banks waiting to regain their riparian structure – the diverse plants that are essential to stream health. We restore this riparian structure by planting native trees and shrubs and using a hand-broadcast or mechanical seed spreader to plant our custom riparian seed mix we developed this year. The results of this fresh growth are pictured here.
Kelley explained how restoration projects like this are long-lasting (climate-ready culverts have an expected lifespan of 75+ years), require little to no maintenance, blend in with the streamscape, and help our streams regain their lost vitality.
Out next stop brought us to the Town of Keene where the water main for one of the Town's water districts was compromised in the 2019 Halloween storm, threatening 90% of their water supply. We, along with our partners, completed a fall project that rebuilt bank and channel structure that restored the form and function of the river immediately up and downstream of the pipe. This refocuses the flow of water (shifting it away from the vulnerable bank), rebuilds habitat, and improves water quality. This is only the first phase of the project, and we hope to tackle phase two of this project next summer.
Kelley explained some of the restoration techniques and materials used for this project, such as toe wood structures (made out of local trees with intact roots) that stabilize the riverbank, and W-weirs (constructed of large native boulders) that stabilize stream slope and protect banks by moving water to the center of the channel.
Our last stop brought us to Upper Jay where Kelley explained a future project on the East Branch Ausable River. This location has a history of ice jams, which form when the amount of ice in the river exceeds the river channel's transport capacity – its ability to move materials downstream. Kelley described how we're working with our partners to plan long-term solutions that create flood resilience for our communities and reduce the damage caused by ice jams.
Thank you to the board members and members who joined us for this restoration site tour! We're excited to tackle new projects next summer are seeking funds from a variety of sources.
Story written by Tyler Merriam, Donor Outreach Manager. Sign-up for our e-newsletter to get weekly updates on the latest stories from the Ausable River Association.