Irene: Schoharie Creek cleanup effort pays off

Truck by truck, workers this week are pulling tons of material out of the Schoharie Creek where it m

Truck by truck, workers this week are pulling tons of material out of the Schoharie Creek where it meets the Mohawk River — a task that was forced by tropical storms Irene and Lee but is not without its own benefits.

The Schoharie Creek flushed massive amounts of silt and gravel to its confluence with the Mohawk River, where a state boat launch sits on property that is part of the Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site, Montgomery County Public Works Commissioner Paul Clayburn said.

The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation got a permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to pull the gravel and debris out of the area so it doesn’t interfere with people using the boat launch, he said.

So a team of equipment operators from the towns of Florida, Glen and Mohawk, along with county crews, are doing the work, and they get to keep what they find in exchange for their labor, Clayburn said.

The silt isn’t worth much, so it’s being dumped in a spoils area at the park. But the gravel is worth thousands of dollars and is being trucked to various sites for use by town crews.

“A lot of it looks like we can use it as is, without having to really do anything with it,” Clayburn said.

He said he’s stockpiling some of it for road projects, where it will be placed on the shoulders.

“For what I need for my projects, it’s probably going to save me $30,000,” he said.

The town of Florida is gathering thousands of cubic yards of gravel and hauling it to the town highway garage to use in building a new veterans memorial.

“With just what we’ve hauled to the town of Florida, it’s probably $24,000 worth of material they did not have to buy,” Clayburn said.

Florida town Supervisor William Strevy said it was clear the project had a variety of benefits when the plan received permit approval a day after a meeting held by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state Canal Corp. and county and town officials.

“I’m sure the project wouldn’t have been as well received if it had not been for the fact that it was beneficial to all,” Strevy said. He said it typically takes at least six months to get a permit to work in a creek.

The towns of Glen and Mohawk also are planning to gather some of the material for road projects in their towns, Clayburn said.

There’s another benefit to the work: All the material being removed amounts to more room for the waters of the unpredictable Schoharie Creek.

“Every yard of material that comes out of there, I suppose, is that much more water that would stay in the creek,” Clayburn said.

“And the boat launch will be usable again without boats bottoming out,” he said.

It’s the second major project in the county that will improve the flow of water in the Schoharie Creek.

The county commissioned a post-flood project upstream at Burtonsville last year where contractors moved or got rid of tons of logs, stones and debris that presented a blockage hazard and threatened the bridges over the creek.

Charleston town Supervisor Shayne Walters, chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors, said the dry weather has made a lot of progress possible since the tropical storms.

“We’ve been lucky in a couple cases. We have a couple of bad spots that are getting cleaned up,” Walters said.

But there’s still places along the Schoharie Creek that are riddled with debris, he said.

“There are some spots. But as we start to get these big ones taken care of, then the little ones won’t be such a threat,” Walters said.

Categories: Schenectady County

Leave a Reply