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Adirondack Explorer

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Green groups restore Ausable River damaged by Irene

In response to the devastating effects of Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, the Ausable River Association is leading an effort to enhancing flood resilience and stream health in the East Branch of the Ausable River. Read the details and mission of the project in the news release below:

 

The Ausable River Association (AsRA) and its partners will lead a $1.1 million effort to restore flood resilience and stream health to the East Branch of the Ausable River in the Town of Jay. Ecosystem Planning and Restoration of Maryland, Erik Sandblom PC, and Fitzgerald Environmental Associates, both from Vermont, teamed up with AsRA in the successful bid for this project. Additional expertise is being provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Trout Unlimited, Adirondack Chapter.

Funds for the project were awarded to the Town after Tropical Storm Irene and are administered by the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery.

The East Branch restoration team will use field data, hydrologic and geomorphic models, guidance from the Town government, and input from Jay residents and business owners to develop a comprehensive plan for flood resilience for the East Branch in the Town of Jay. The plan will include conceptual designs of all identified stream and floodplain projects and a scoring matrix for ranking them. This work will be completed by 2019. Two to five of the highest ranking projects will be fully designed, with construction scheduled to start in the summer of 2019. Collection of technical data describing the current state of the river and its floodplain has already begun.

“The Town of Jay is a leader in applying tested stream restoration science in its efforts to protect the community and restore the Ausable River’s East Branch,” notes Kelley Tucker, AsRA’s Executive Director. “We’ve worked side by side with the town highway crew to replace undersized culverts on Nugent and Jay Mountain Roads. These projects revealed the value of stream restoration as a tool to protect local roads, reducing maintenance costs, and improving stream water quality and habitat.”

“Our priorities after the devastation of Irene were clear: to evaluate and remove the deteriorating Rome Dam, repair the water infrastructure of Au Sable Forks, and start restoring the East Branch in a way that makes it resilient and healthy while protecting town infrastructure,” says Archie Depo, Jay’s Supervisor. “We’ve found the right team to work with our community.”

The Ausable’s East Branch runs through the three hamlets of the Town of Jay. Residents rely on the Ausable watershed for drinking water, recreation, and as a driver for their economy. In 2011, Tropical Storm Irene exposed longstanding vulnerabilities in the river’s capacity to move sediment efficiently. In a healthy river, a typical spring flood moves small sediment efficiently to floodplains and sorts larger materials along its bed and banks. But in a destabilized stream, such as portions of the East Branch today, the same flood scours banks, fills delicate pool habitats with sand, piles cobble in shallow riffles, and cuts off access to floodplains. This restoration effort begins the healing of the East Branch, creating resilience for local communities and a healthy river that can better support recreational uses and habitat.

Contact: Kelley Tucker, Executive Director, AsRA
518-637-6859; ktucker@ausableriver.org

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