Trees for Tributaries is a planting program, coordinated by the Upper Susquehanna Coalition, that works to reforest tributary streams throughout New York State, in order to reduce negative impacts upon riparian ecosystems, as well as, reduce the negative effects a riparian ecosystem can have on society.
Since the colonization of the Susquehanna River watershed in the 17th century, the Southern Tier has experienced a significant loss of forested habitat, specifically forested riparian buffers.
A riparian buffer is any vegetated land, ideally forested, that border water bodies and wetlands. These forest edges provide many services both to its human and organismal residents.
Implementation of buffers has been shown to maintain and even increase the property values of those located in riparian zones. Trees, and other vegetation that comprise a buffer, hold the soil together in the roots slowing the erosional processes; keeping waterfront property from rapidly shrinking. Plant roots also help prevent nutrient rich soil from floating away downstream, which decreases eutrophication in natural ecosystems, and prevents farmers from losing the fertile soil their crops require.
In addition to personal gains, installation of riparian buffers can also aid in economic growth of a town by increasing recreational opportunities. Buffers enhance the species diversity of an area by creating microhabitats.
These microhabitats host organisms with high sensitivity to environmental conditions known as indicator species. Stoneflies, salamanders, and lichens are all examples of organisms with this type of habitat specificity. Although, stoneflies may not attract masses of tourists; stoneflies are a great lure for brook trout and several other species of game fish.
Diversity of game fish is not the only draw of riparian buffers; these wetland ecosystems are also host to an array of bird species. Wood ducks, kingfishers, great blue herons and even bald eagles find refuge in riparian ecosystems.
Whether you are a farmer, fisherman, or aspiring ornithologist, if you own or manage property along a stream you may qualify for assistance.
Trees for Tributaries will provide the native trees and shrubs necessary for streamside planting projects, and regional staff will be available throughout the process for technical aid. Public and private sites qualify for assistance, although projects led by environmental organizations, or sites located in high profile, highly visible areas will receive precedence.
Since there is greater success in establishment of trees in spring and fall this is when buffers will be installed. To learn more and apply, visit www.dec.ny.gov/animals/77710.html or call the Tioga County Soil and Water Conservation District at (607) 687-3553 or email to GrantL@Co.Tioga.ny.us.