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Hudson Estuary Trees for Tribs

Replanting the Streams of the Hudson Valley

Installing tree tubes along the Normans Kill
Estuary Program staff and volunteers
install a tree shelter

Hudson Estuary Trees for Tribs (tribs as in tributaries) program engages volunteers in restoring thousands of feet of streamside buffer through native trees and shrub planting. The program offers land owners with free native trees and shrubs for qualifying riparian buffer planting/restoration projects. Trees for Tribs staff may also be able to assist with plant selection, designing a planting plan, and other technical support to improve the odds of success for projects.

Riparian (streamside) buffers are a major component to maintaining healthy streams and waters and their conservation is a critical element of any holistic watershed program. Riparian areas are often severely damaged during the land development process, leading to unintended negative impacts to our streams and rivers. Composed of trees, shrubs and grasses, these buffers help to reduce pollution entering waterways by slowing down and filtering runoff, thus extending retention time and improving water quality. Buffers also help to reduce flooding and erosion by stabilizing shorelines and absorbing high velocity flows. In addition, they serve an important role for wildlife as a shoreline transition zone and travel corridor, not to mention increasing overall biodiversity and improving in-stream health. To learn more about riparian buffers, read the Stream Buffers Fact Sheet (PDF) (240 KB) and use the Links Leaving DEC's Website on the right side of this page.

Volunteer for Fall Plantings--Locations and Dates

How to apply to "Trees for Tribs"

For more information about the "Trees for Tribs" program please contact:

Beth Roessler
Hudson River Estuary Program's Riparian Buffer Coordinator
21 South Putt Corners Rd.
New Paltz, NY 12561
phone (845) 256-2253

Trees for Tribs Overview:

Hudson River Estuary Program's "Trees for Tribs" Initiative
Replanting the Streams of the Hudson Valley

The Hudson River Estuary Program's "Trees for Tribs" Initiative offers free native trees and shrubs for qualifying projects in the Hudson River Estuary watershed within the State of New York from the Verrazano Narrows Bridge to the Troy Dam (see the Hudson River Estuary Grant Programs Boundaries map (PDF) (1.5 MB)). The Riparian Buffer Coordinator can assist with plant selection, designing a planting plan, and other technical information to improve the odds of success for your project.

Application time is: March 1 for Spring. August 1 for Fall. Reserving plants early is advisable (applications are accepted after deadlines, but are at a disadvantage)

Applications will be filled according to the following priorities:
  • Local non-profit watershed groups, land trusts, and other environmental organizations will be given preference.
  • Project sites located in high profile, public or highly visible areas, such as town parks or adjacent to roads will be given preference.
  • Groups providing a Project Data Sheet (with specifics on where the desired plants will be planted) along with their application will be given preference vs. groups who provide that information later.
  • Sorry, plants are not available for:
    • large projects where proposals should have included buffer restoration costs from the outset, particularly projects involving channel realignment or other major excavation work
    • new sites enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)
Species available:

Native tree and shrub species will be determined based on availability and existing conditions. Generally plantings are comprised of 60% shrubs and 40% trees. A large percentage of the seedlings used are grown by New York State Tree Nursery. Additional plants are available for purchase from the Tree Nursery.

In accepting plants, all recipient groups agree to the following conditions of the program:

  • Plants are offered to organizations/individuals for riparian buffer projects in the Hudson River Estuary's Watershed and are to be used for the proposed project only.
  • Recipients agree to provide the Estuary Program with site information on where plants are used. Recipients will provide a fully completed Project Data Sheet for each project where trees and shrubs will be used. Failure to provide this information will result in your being invoiced for plants.
  • Recipients are required to recruit and organize an adequate number of volunteers to assist on the day of the planting.
  • Recipients are legally responsible for the volunteers on the project.
  • Recipients are responsible for the maintenance of plants and materials:
  • Landowner and/or Organization shall not cut, remove, mow or otherwise disturb vegetation, including but not limited to trees and shrubs, planted or naturally growing in the project area, unless deemed necessary by the HREP's Riparian Buffer Coordinator.
  • Landowner and/or Organization shall not alter, undermine, or remove bio-engineering structures constructed within the project area.
  • During times of drought, Landowner and/or Organization shall water newly planted trees and shrubs as needed.
  • Tree tubes shall be properly installed and maintained (see the Tree Shelter section on the next page)
  • Yearly water quality and plant material monitoring may be a required component of buffer project. The Estuary Program's Riparian Buffer Coordinator will discuss this component with you.
  • Recipients shall coordinate with the Riparian Buffer Coordinator in regards to returning plant containers, tree tubes and stakes.
  • The Estuary Program's Riparian Buffer Coordinator shall be granted access to project site to periodically inspect and monitor plant material, as well as, stream conditions.
  • It is strongly encouraged that participants contact adjacent landowners to discuss the proposed planting project, prior to site prep.
Tree Shelters:

Tree shelters can boost tree growth and survival if properly selected, installed, maintained, and eventually removed. The Estuary Program may provide tree shelters for trees only, as shrubs are typically not tubed for various reasons.

Tree Shelter Installation & Maintenance Guidelines:
  1. A pressure-treated yellow pine stake or heartwood white oak stake (treated or not) or locust stake (treated or not) is required. Other wooden stakes will likely not hold up adequately. Use of other materials (fiberglass or rebar etc.) can be discussed.
  2. Groups receiving tree shelters agree to provide maintenance of tree shelters including their eventual removal at an appropriate time for tree health. Upon removal they shall be returned to the Riparian Buffer Coordinator, unless otherwise instructed.
  3. Shelters shall be properly installed per manufacturer guidance, with a stake driven to an adequate depth to keep shelter upright.
  4. Shelters shall be monitored at least twice annually (early spring before growth spurt and early summer after much growth is ideal) with attention to the following:
    1. Stakes needing to be re-hammered (lifted by frost heave, loosened by wind, etc.)
    2. Other damage, needs, etc. including need for control of competing plants, invasive species and noxious weeds
    3. Identification of plants needing replacement.
  5. Shelters shall be removed at an appropriate time. At present the consensus is to remove shelters only at the point where tree diameter is approximately 1.5" at the top of the tube. Later removal may lead to fungus and canker from humid conditions. Earlier removal may lead to increased risk of vole damage, deer damage, insufficient girth on tree and simple reduction of benefits of the shelter overall. If better information becomes available, Riparian Buffer Coordinator will attempt to get the word out advising project partners.

For assistance, project information form, and project date sheet please contact:

Beth Roessler, Hudson River Estuary Program's Riparian Buffer Coordinator
21 South Putt Corners Rd.
New Paltz, NY 12561
phone (845) 256-2253

Fact Sheet: Stream Buffers

Tools for Watershed Protection: Stream Buffers

What are stream buffers?

Stream buffers, also known as riparian buffers, conserve the areas adjacent to streams and rivers. Buffers differ greatly, as do the streams they border, ranging from flat floodplains to steep gorges. When functioning properly, they serve as a vegetated, protective area between a body of water and human activity.

What are the benefits of stream buffers?

A healthy vegetated buffer helps improve stream health and water quality by: filtering and slowing pollution runoff; preventing soil erosion; providing upland habitat; contributing essential nutrients to the food chain; providing woody debris for in-stream habitat, and shading the stream to keep water temperatures down. Buffers also help absorb flood waters to protect human life and property.

What's the difference between healthy and unhealthy buffers?

An illustration of a healthy and an unhealthy buffer
An example of an unhealthy buffer-left and a
healthy buffer-right (Amy Flavin, NYCDEP)

A healthy buffer has many different species of native trees, shrubs and grasses with minimal encroachment and human disturbance. Varying buffer widths correspond to different purposes in support of human needs and the ecosystem, but in general, the wider the better. Unhealthy buffers have: plants with weak root systems, such as turf grass; invasive plant species, such as Japanese knotweed; grazing animals; inadequate buffer widths; hardened shorelines, and impervious surfaces, such as pavement.

Protection options

Property owners can protect streams and buffers by allowing native trees, shrubs and vegetation to grow, while reducing pavement, lawn areas, farm animal usage, and removing invasive plant species. Municipalities can enact local watercourse buffer ordinances, conservation overlays, and implement buffer protections through State Environmental Quality Reviews (SEQR), while conservation groups and land trusts can purchase conservation easements to legally protect stream buffers. More information on these techniques is available in the NYSDEC Handbook: Conserving Natural Areas and Wildlife in Your Community: Smart Growth Strategies for Protecting the Biological Diversity of New York's Hudson River Valley.

Restoration options in the estuary watershed

Grant opportunities through the Hudson River Estuary Program and the Catskill Watershed Corporation Stream Corridor Protection Program support both protection and restoration of streams. Several restoration programs also support landowner or community projects: the Hudson Estuary "Trees for Tribs" initiative; United States Department of Agriculture Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (agriculture applications), and New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Some of these programs extend into other watersheds as well.

Hudson Estuary "Trees for Tribs"

volunteers installing a tree tube
Installing a tree tube during a "Trees for Tribs"
buffer planting project on Wappingers Creek,

Hudson Estuary "Trees for Tribs" is a program developed to reforest unhealthy stream buffers along tributaries (a.k.a. "tribs") in the Hudson River Estuary watershed. Projects occur in both the spring and fall. Participants must submit an application and provide volunteer labor for planting and annual vegetation monitoring, if applicable. Hudson Estuary "Trees for Tribs" staff will: conduct a site analysis; provide free native trees and shrubs, as well as tree tubes and weed mats for tree protection; prepare the site (if feasible); coordinate and participate in the planting, and provide other technical assistance. Hudson Estuary "Trees for Tribs" staff also make presentations and provide guidance for community planning.

Find out more about stream buffers and Hudson Estuary "Trees for Tribs"

Contact the Hudson River Estuary Program
Stream Buffer Coordinator
Telephone: 845-256-2253 (Beth Roessler)
Fax: 845-255-3649