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Thankful for Trees

The Ausable River Association works to restore native grasses, plants, and trees to the once lush streamside, or riparian, habitats along river and stream corridors in the watershed. Whether we're planting to increase riparian shading or establishing plants on newly restored streambanks– we focus on bringing back the diverse native plant structure that is essential to stream health and wildlife diversity. We've planted 10,000 trees in the past eleven years, and we continually assess our planting methods and species choice. We aim to find the most appropriate native species and methods that maximize revegetation success while minimizing the time, energy, and money needed to maintain revegetated areas. Long-term, formal monitoring of three former restoration sites helps us to understand long-term growing success and apply additional plantings where needed. By using what we learn, we maximize the growth of the many riparian habitats we work in, the protection of streambanks, and, therefore, the long-term success of our restoration projects.

In 2022, we planted several hundred trees along the Ausable watershed. In the spring, we launched a planting effort on a property along the lower East Branch Ausable River to rebuild and expand a riparian buffer. Our efforts were matched and exceeded by the landowner in a monumental effort to revegetate the banks of the river after agriculture and grazing lands extended almost the whole way to its banks. 

We planted native shrubs and willows down on the wet banks. 

Thanks to the landowner's additional efforts, oaks and other native hardwoods were planted to help replace canopy trees as they fall or die out and to expand the buffer into the adjacent field.

We used tree tubes, mulch, and water to help these young trees grow, and look forward to returning in the spring for more planting with the landowner. 

AsRA’s veteran staff and new staff spent two full days planting these trees along the riparian corridor.

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We just love it when landowners, either newly dug in or long-time locals, reach out to us for planting advice. This summer, we worked with a land manager on the West Branch Ausable River to assess their riparian buffer through the new LCBP Stream Wise Program. We found that where the buffer was present on the large property, it was full of native species in all stages of growth and doing a good job of filtering stormwater runoff and helping to stabilize streambanks. In some areas though, the buffer was slim to nonexistent. We provided a report through the Stream Wise Program that offered suggestions for building a better buffer and promoting natural regeneration on the property. But the land manager wanted to do more to boost the buffer zone to help hold sandy streambanks together. 

Thanks to funding from One Tree Planted and Lake Champlain Basin Program, we were able to put together a tree-planting workshop and workday on the property to start planting a buffer in this critical area of the West Branch Ausable River. We teamed up with our business partners Adirondack Riverwalking and Forest Bathing to put the workshop together. The event attracted local volunteers as well as students from Lake Placid, Tupper Lake, and Saranac Lake through the natural resources program at the Adirondack Educational Center. 

Students paired with staff and volunteers to plant over 500 trees and shrubs along the river.

 We planted alders, willows, and dogwoods, and will assist the landowner to monitor and maintain this buffer planting over the coming year. 

We are grateful for the role that trees play in our watershed and around the planet. From sequestering carbon to providing oxygen, their ecosystem services are innumerable. The trees along and in our rivers, streams, and lakes help to hold together habitats for wildlife and fresh water. We're thankful for the many hundreds of trees we were able to plant this year in the Ausable watershed. This work was funded in part through Lake Champlain Basin Program and NEIWPCC, One Tree Planted, and support from our donors. In this season of gratitude and reflection, we are thankful for trees and we are thankful for you. 

Story by Carrianne Pershyn, Biodiversity Research Manager.  

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