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Project Area 2 Is Complete!

After rain and flooding delays in July and August, the construction phase of our work at Project Area 2 (PA2) in Upper Jay on the East Branch Ausable River was completed on November 8 (see earlier stories about PA2 here and here). The project addressed nearly 3,000 linear feet of river channel with a toe wood bench along the entire length of the right bank (looking downstream) and seven channel-spanning rock enhancements. Project goals were to reduce the formation of ice jams and alleviate flooding impacts in the Town of Jay. The work provided additional benefits: increased buffers along State Route 9N to absorb floods and ice and increased aquatic and riparian habitat.

The completion of PA2 marks the second completed project out of 13 priority restoration sites identified as part of the East Branch Restoration Program (EBRP). While construction is finished, AsRA will continue to monitor the site as we work to establish vegetation on the toe wood bench, which helps add stability to the structure as roots bind the sediment and add roughness that slows water velocities during floods. Over the next two years, we will conduct geomorphic and biological surveys to understand how stream functions have been enhanced by the project. As we move forward with more restoration work in the future, the experience gained with each completed project increases our understanding of this incredibly dynamic system.

With AsRA taking the lead on securing funds, selecting a contractor, and providing daily construction oversight, we also relied on our many partners to get this project completed on time and on budget:

  • Gian Dodici and Carl Schwartz of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners Office in Cortland, NY – technical expertise and permitting assistance;
  • Rich Starr of Ecosystem Planning and Restoration – restoration design;
  • Erik Sandblom of SRA Engineers – project engineering and site inspections;
  • Town of Jay Supervisor and Board – access to the river and staging areas for construction on town lands; and
  • NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Division of Environmental Permits and Adirondack Park Agency – advice and permitting for the project

Jeff Benthin, owner of JB’s Excavation Services, Inc., brought nearly 20 years of stream restoration construction experience to the project. His skill as an excavator operator and with planning the sequence of construction was critical to a successful outcome. We are thrilled to be working with Jeff and look forward to seeing more of him in the future.

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L-R: Gian Dodici, Jeff Benthin, and Gary Henry discuss next steps during construction at PA2.

As the largest restoration project overseen by AsRA to date, we also relied on multiple funding sources to move this project forward:

  • NYS DEC Water Quality Improvement Project grant received through the Town of Keene;
  • Large Implementation Grant received from New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) through the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP);
  • USFWS grant for habitat restoration and connectivity in the Lake Champlain Basin, New York; and
  • US Department of Agriculture – Natural Resource Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) grant funds received through Congressional earmark directed to AsRA by Representative Elise Stefanik

Our supporters inside and outside of the Ausable watershed are what really make this work possible. As our field work and construction season wraps up, we are busy planning our next round of adventures in 2024 and beyond. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest information on AsRA’s current projects!

Story by Gary Henry, Stream Restoration Manager. 
This project has been funded in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) under assistance agreement (LC 00A00981-0) to NEIWPCC in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program. 

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