State nursery participating in ‘Trees for Tributaries’ effort

The first thousand of potentially 70,000 trees from the Saratoga Tree Nursery were planted on Friday

The first thousand of potentially 70,000 trees from the Saratoga Tree Nursery were planted on Friday in the Adirondack town of Keene as part of an ambitious program for the Lake Champlain tributary corridor.

The state tree nursery in Saratoga Springs is the source of “Trees for Tributaries,” which is designed to protect and rehabilitate 20,000 linear feet of shoreline that leads to Lake Champlain. Many of these corridors were ravaged by recent flooding that caused a lot of erosion, uprooted trees and transformed the landscape. The scope of the program is contingent on interest from municipalities and private landowners in this region who want trees.

“The whole purpose of this program is to try to shore up and stabilize those stream banks that can be eroded. … That root system helps stabilize those shorelines,” said state Forester Robert Davies. “Where we were planting the trees were very much impacted by the flooding.”

He said the program was modeled after the Hudson River Estuary “Trees for Tributaries,” with the hope of eventually implementing it statewide.

The $75,000 in funding for the current effort comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The money is part of President Barack Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative.

Davies said he was very encouraged by the turnout for the planting, which was done by four crews of 10 people who planted a little more than 1,000 trees. The weather was wet and cool, but it worked for the occasion. “It was actually a perfect day for planting trees,” he said.

The trees planted on Friday included red maples, silver maples, dogwoods and a variety of other young trees.

The nursery is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. It is the only facility of its kind in the state and is one of the last of its kind in the country. It continues to be planted and harvested every year. As recently as 2009 the nursery was in jeopardy as the need for state budget cuts made it a target for savings.

“It’s really central to the history of New York state, and we’re trying to keep it vibrant,” Davies said.

“The nursery started in 1911 because much of the Northeast had been largely [deforested],” he said, noting that only about 21 percent of the state was forest. Now that amount is up to 63 percent. “That is largely due to the state nursery program.”

Regarding Saratoga’s nursery, he said, “it was a centerpiece of the tree nursery program. The other ones were smaller operations.”

The planting at Saratoga’s nursery will be adjusted to meet demand. Davies hopes the nursery is pushed to its limits, with many people in the Lake Champlain area choosing to take advantage of what he described as a cheap and natural flood deterrent.

“That’s basically 20,000 linear feet of green infrastructure, which is much cheaper than your engineered infrastructure that we usually rely on.”

Also, on Thursday Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a proclamation declaring 2011 the year of forests.

This winter the program will go into its planning stages, with planting to resume in the spring. Municipalities or private landowners in the Lake Champlain tributary corridor interested in participating should contact the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Categories: Schenectady County

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