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home : features : science and nature March 26, 2015

Spring Restoration Project Includes Local Tree Planting
courtesy photoThe Cabot Creamery crew in action.
+ click to enlarge

courtesy photo

The Cabot Creamery crew in action.

Last week, the Friends of the Winooski River conducted a week-long period of river shoreline planting, kicking off the spring season with a series of successful restoration events.

Between May 1 and May 8, the Friends and its volunteer partners planted trees on the banks of the Dog and Winooski Rivers in Berlin, Cabot and Marshfield on four separate days. The plan is to plant a total of 1,800 trees over the year.

There will be a mix of native floodplain species including willows, dogwoods, alders, elderberry, maples and other species.

"It is great to be able to get out and have so many volunteers help protect the shores of these rivers," said Ann Smith, executive director of Friends of the Winooski River. "Riparian restoration is key to the health of any river. The small trees and spikes we planted over the past week will help protect the water quality of the Dog and Winooski Rivers by controlling erosion and reducing water pollution."

On May 6, the Friends were joined by students from the Cabot School for a planting in Cabot sponsored by the Cabot Creamery. On May 7, volunteers from Cabot Creamery helped with a riparian tree planting in Cabot, also sponsored by Cabot Creamery.

On May 8, the Friends planted trees at the Martin Bridge in Marshfield on the Winooski River. They were joined by students from the Earthwalk program, the Central Vermont High School Initiative, Green Mountain Valley School, Websterville Baptist School and Twinfield School. This project was possible through the support of the Town of Marshfield Conservation Commission, and is funded through Cabot Creamery, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program), and the State of Vermont Ecosystem Restoration Program.

Stated Smith: "It's a great opportunity to get outdoors and to teach the students how to protect their rivers. The best way is hands-on experience. This is an activity that they can participate in and replicate in the future to protect water quality and habitat, as well as improve flood resiliency. We really appreciate the help of our volunteers. It's a great way to get people outside, get their hands dirty and learn about local ecology and stream protection."

Protection and restoration of riparian shorelands, or those adjacent to river waters, are vital to the health of the river. Strong vegetation and cover help hold soils in place to prevent erosion and these root systems also control and capture polluted runoff that causes algal blooms, cloudy water due to sedimentation, and bacteria spikes after rainstorms.

Many local riparian areas were damaged during the high waters of Irene or by repeated annual spring flooding.

Over the past eight years, the Friends have planted 14,000 trees and shrubs on 35 acres throughout the Winooski watershed.

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