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For Release: Sunday, April 29, 2012

DEC and Partners Continue "Trees for Tribs" Program

Tree Planting Events Held in Observance of Arbor Day

Two tree planting events were held along streams heavily eroded by the waters of Tropical Storm Irene as part of the Lake Champlain Basin Trees for Tributaries program, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today.

The Trees for Tributaries program is a partnership between DEC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The goals of the program are to restore and protect the stream corridors that connect to Lake Champlain. The native trees and shrubs planted were grown at the DEC's State Tree Nursery in Saratoga Springs, Saratoga County.

"In the wake of Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, homeowners and communities across the state witnessed the devastation that swollen rivers and streams can pose to people and property," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. "Our Trees for Tributaries program provides trees and shrubs free to municipalities and private landowners to restore damaged banks of streams, tributaries and rivers damaged by the tropical storms and subsequent flooding."

"As part of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Initiative, NRCS is helping states, communities and nonprofits protect their own resources through partnerships with the federal government," said Acting NRCS State Conservationist Carrie Mosley. "The initiative is empowering locally-led conservation groups and outdoor recreation efforts across the whole country. Last year, in New York, $1.2 million dollars was used through this initiative to put conservation to work on 3,000 acres within the Lake Champlain watershed."

"The Adirondack community continues to work together to overcome the devastation of last summer's tropical storms," said Adirondack Park Agency Chairwoman Leilani Crafts Ulrich. "Replanting vegetation will help stabilize shorelines and diminish the impacts of flood events. I applaud the hard work and dedication of all who are so generously committing their time to plant our future. The DEC Trees for Tributaries program is an excellent example of how New Yorkers come together in times of need."

Arbor Day a national observance that celebrates the role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care. It was established as a way to encourage farmers and homesteaders to plant trees that would provide shade, shelter, food, fuel and beauty to open areas. This year Arbor Day is observed on Friday, April 27.

The first event was held on Friday, April 27, along the shores of Lake George on Assembly Point in the Town of Queensbury, Warren County. The Assembly Point Water Quality Committee planted more than 500 trees to restore areas significantly damaged by Hurricanes Irene and Lee.

On Sunday, April 29, 1600 trees were planted at 13 sites along the banks of the East Branch Ausable River in the Village of Ausable Forks and the Towns of Jay and Keene, Essex County. The Ausable River Association (AsRA) in partnership with the Essex County Soil and Water Conservation District organized the event. Staff from DEC, NRCS and APA participated in the effort.

"This spring, I've enjoyed working with landowners and towns affected by the flood to find places where they and the river ecosystem will benefit from strengthening the riparian buffer," AsRA's Director Corrie Miller said. "We all worked together and make this valley even more beautiful than it already is."

"The Town of Jay is most appreciative to be working with the AuSable River Association, their Director Corrie Miller and DEC on this project," said Randy Douglas, Essex County Board Chairman and Town of Jay Supervisor. "Together we are making giant steps in the Irene recovery process. I am very proud of our accomplishments so far in this long process. Together we will strive to make our communities a better place."

"These plantings are critical to restore the streams because Irene so heavily damaged the trees in the riparian areas," said David Reckahn, District Manager of the Essex County Soil & Water Conservation District.

The Trees for Tributaries program provides a focus within state governments for the restoration, enhancement and protection of riparian areas and stream and tributary corridors. With the increased intensity and duration of storm events, taking action now to protect stream and tributary corridors is a tangible way for land owners to restore and protect their property from erosion and flooding. Studies have long documented the ability of trees and shrubs and other plant materials to absorb rain water and slow down water flows, as well as binding and stabilizing stream and riparian corridors banks.

In addition to stabilization benefits, trees and other natural vegetation along waterways (also called riparian forests) can reduce up to 69 percent of total nitrogen, 60 percent of total phosphorous, and 71 percent of total sediment from an average agricultural setting. Riparian buffer restoration is one of the most low cost ways to meet water quality goals established for major water bodies. Riparian forests also provide much-needed shading, cooling and food for trout and other fish habitat.

The "Trees for Tributaries" program coordinates volunteer and technical assistance for landowners within the Lake Champlain and Lower Hudson River watersheds to protect their stream and riparian corridors through tree and shrub planting efforts. A similar program within New York's upper Susquehanna watershed is also being funded in partnership with the federal Chesapeake Bay program.

Private landowners, municipalities and not-for-profit landowners within the three watersheds are eligible to apply to participate in the "Trees for Tributaries" program. Further details are on the Lake Champlain Basin Trees for Tribs web page.

The Ausable River Association is a community-supported organization that works cooperatively with landowners, municipalities and government agencies to protect the wild, scenic and recreational resources of the Ausable River Watershed. AsRA, as part of the Champlain Watershed Improvement Coalition of New York (CWICNY), receives support from the America's Great Outdoors initiative for this year's riparian buffer planting projects. Use the link in the right column to visit Ausable River Association's web page.

The America's Great Outdoors Initiative is opening up access to lands and waters, restoring critical landscapes, and supporting thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity. The initiative has resulted in many combined conservation and recreation successes, including gains in youth employment, new trail designations, the creation of urban campgrounds and historic investments in large landscapes from Lake Champlain to the Florida Everglades. For more information about the America's Great Outdoors initiative, use the link in the right column.

For more information on the "Trees for Tributaries" program, visit the Trees for Tribs web page or call the Division of Lands and Forests at 518-402-9405.