North Branch Landscape Company is based on a 20 acre tree farm on Rt. 100 as you enter Stamford, VT. With over 1000 ft of frontage on the North Branch of the Hoosac River, we have a long history of interest in the river and its well being. Over the years our company has strongly supported the Hoosac River Watershed Association and its goals of protecting and enhancing the river ecosystem and the watershed as a whole. So, when Lauren Stevens from HooRWA called us late last fall to inquire about his idea for a community project, we were very interest in helping.
The Spruces Mobile Home Park in Williamstown, with its iconic lion statues at the entrance, was devastated in the floods caused by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. As a result, town leaders embarked on a plan to move the residents to alternate living locations and to purchase the mobile homes and property. With FEMA funding, all home sites were removed and the park has been converted to green fields status and turned over to the town of Williamstown with future plans calling for recreational fields, hiking trails, and a bike path. There are no buildings planned for the property.
Another change in the wake of the flooding was the construction of a drainage area to help alleviate Rt. 2 flooding in future high water events. One of the major issues concerning the environmental health of the Hoosac River is water temperature, With flood control chutes and levies, the water is exposed to full sun and excessive heating, which compromises the suitable habitat for many animal, insect, and fish species. The purpose of this project was to use plantings to establish a vegitative buffer surrounding the drainage system to cool waters feeding the river and to enhance the habitate for wildlike in the area.
The project was designed by North Branch Landscape to plant over 800 native seedlings of deciduous trees, evergrees, and large shrubs. These seedlings are protected for one to two growing seasons by plastic “grow tubes,” which will protect the plants from animal browsing, harsh weather conditions, wind, and cold temperatures. These grow tubes have been used for large scale reforestation projects and have produced excellent results. Some of the species of trees include Red Maple, Hemlock, Eastern Red Cedar, Winterberries, Vibernums, and Staghorn Sumac.
The project was presented to the Williamstown Community Preservation Committee for CPA funding. A grant was approved at a town meeting. The funds were used to purchase plants, grow tubes, and related supplies and services. Volunteer donations of time and services matched or exceeded the grant in the scope of work.
On Thursday, September 1, seven employees of North Branch Landscape oversaw and helped to plant all 800 + seedlings and small shrubs alongside several HooRWA board members and two groups of 10 Williams College Students. Holes were augered by North Branch and mulch and compost were supplied by the town of Williamstown along with mowing to prepare the area for planting. Grow tubes were also installed using hardwood stakes, which were generously supplied by RK Miles in Williamstown. Wild Oats Co-Op also pitched in with drinks and energy bars. Many thanks to all who participated.
With some follow up work in the following days and weeks, including watering via a water truck provided by North Branch Landscape, the project was completed. With a little help from mother nature, the grow tubes will be removed by the spring of 2018 or sooner.
In the next few years, a strong vegetative buffer will emerge to begin shading the water in times of runoff. A great habitat for birds and animals will mature and add to the ecosystem of the Hoosac River Water Shed.
To see photos posted to the Berkshire Eagle, click here!
To learn more about the Hoosic River flood chute naturalization, chick here!