Project: Skellie/Hi-Brow Farm Meander Restoration
Location: Batten Kill off Rte 29 near the Cargill facility in Salem, NY.
Time Frame: 2008 to 2009
Partners: US Fish & Wildlife Service, Clearwater & Adirondack Chapters of Trout Unlimited, Washington County Soil, Water, and Conservation District, NY Department of Environmental Conservation, Jay Skellie and Hibrow Farms, and Woody Hill Farms.
Problem Description: Poor river dynamics contributed to a channel cut that eliminated an important river meander and compromised productive farm fields.
Project Work Completed: The installation of a rock structure helped to redirect the current into the meander for optimal dynamics and habitat, and the installation of J hooks elsewhere protected banks. This results in improved habitat and protects agricultural land use.
Photos: Photos in the slideshow above show an aerial view of the project site before project work, an excavator in the stream during the project work, and two photos of the restored reach post-project work.
The river below Salem NY had jumped its bank and braided. This situation caused considerable erosion and loss of tillable land to the Hi-Brow farm. Additional problems ensued; the river length had shortened causing erosion at a downstream railroad trestle. In addition the river became over widened and shallow. This lack of habitat was detrimental to the trout population.
The plan by the Batten Kill Watershed Alliance and Trout Unlimited was to put the river back into its original channel, improve the habitat in the restored reach while increasing the usable farmland in the valley. The two conservation organizations partnered with the US Fish and Wildlife for help with design and implementation.
In order to redirect the flow the riverbank was rebuilt at bank full height. The turn of the river was eased and a rock vane was installed to further reduce the pressure on the bank. The design allowed the river to still access the flood plane in the reach which will help prevent further erosion at the site and downstream.
Future plans include adding additional habitat in the form of large woody debris and increasing depth to the stream channel utilizing natural steam channel design.
Funding was supplied by the Clearwater Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Batten Kill Watershed Alliance. Material was donated by Mike Labas of Labas Slate in Granville NY. Trees and materials were contributed by Hi-Brow Farm. US Fish and Wildlife Partners for Wildlife donated design and implementation engineering as well as equipment operation. Special thanks go out to Trout Unlimited members Art Coleman and Dr. John Braico for their survey work on the site and to Art for being on site during the week.
- Greg Cuda