Project: Piekarz Project/Battenkill Riversports & Campground
Location: in the Batten Kill off Rte 313 in Jackson, NY.
Time Frame: 2006
Partners: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, NY Department of Environmental Conservation, Clearwater Trout Unlimited, Battenkill Riversports & Campground.
Problem Description: A long section of riverbank along the campground was seriously eroding, in part due to the fact that the river was too wide and too shallow, so that sediment deposition tended to shift the force of the current into the bank.
Project Work Completed: Multiple rock vanes were installed that functioned to rebuild banks and prevent erosion, which protected important areas for the campground. The vanes also redirect the force of the current to the center of the channel, helping to create a more concentrated, deeper, winding flow, rather than a wide shallow channel with little cover and shelter.
Photos: Photos in the slideshow show before and after views of the eroding stream banks at the project site, and installed rock vanes designed to deepen and narrow the river channel and prevent further erosion, while also providing areas of deeper cover and shelter.
The Batten Kill Watershed Alliance completed a habitat improvement project on the river in New York this past August. The project was designed to protect a severely eroding bank on the property of the Battenkill River Sports and Campground. Landowners all along the river on the New York side are familiar with the habitat structures constructed by New York Department of Environmental Conservation dating from the 1940’s through the 1970’s. NYDEC constructed as many as two hundred structures during this period. Although designed utilizing the best knowledge of the period, most of these structures have failed and are, in some cases, degrading the river’s habitat.
The failed structure near the campground was a double wing dam. As with any dam their useful life is limited. At this location, the river dropped its bed load upstream of the structure, resulting in a river that was twice as wide as and much shallower than a non-impacted stretch of river. As a result, the banks were eroding and causing tons of silt to enter the river.
The Batten Kill Watershed Alliance partnered with the US Fish and Wildlife’s Service for design and implementation, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for funding, and the Clearwater Chapter of Trout Unlimited for assistance in coordinating equipment and supplies. Habitat improvement projects such as this one are part of the Batten Kill Watershed Alliance and its partner’s larger plan to enhance the wild brown trout population in the watershed. As with the majority of New York’s Batten Kill, public fishing right access is in place in this location. Public fishing rights guarantee access to the river bank for the purpose of fishing. The availability of public access is an important consideration in determining locations for habitat restoration.
The project was designed by Carl Schwartz from the US Fish and Wildlife’s Partners for Wildlife program. Mr. Schwartz utilized natural stream channel design techniques to implement the restoration. Natural stream channel design is a technique that studies the river in its non-impacted condition. Structures utilizing this technique return the river to its ‘natural’ state in terms of depth and width. Natural stream channel structures are designed to work with the river which, when properly implemented, will outlive and outperform the outdated restoration techniques. This project involved building a Rosgen type J-hook vein. The vein was constructed out of rock and logs. Additional log veins were installed to further protect the bank and add habitat for trout and other species. The structure will narrow and deepen the channel as well as direct current flows to the middle of the river, preventing further erosion. The banks were then planted with native species.
Interested volunteers will note that additional planting will take place this spring at this and other sites along the river. If you know of a stream bank in the watershed that needs protection, please contact us to complete an evaluation.
This project is part of a larger effort to improve habitat for the wild trout throughout the watershed. Aside from the major effort of the Twin Rivers project in Vermont, additional habitat improvements are being planned for the adjoining reach of river at Foster Farm.
- Greg Cuda