Within the next week, around 260 trees, bushes and plants will be planted along the Wallkill River, right behind Ward Street and east of Wards Bridge in Montgomery.
This is happening through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation “Trees for Tribs” program, a statewide plan that aims to plant shrubs and other trees along streams and creeks that continue into larger bodies of water in order to reforest the areas. They hope to “create or improve riparian (streamside) buffers that decrease erosion, reduce flooding damage, improve wildlife and stream habitat; and protect water quality.”
Back in January, Environmental Engineer and Montgomery resident Susan Cockburn decided to fill out a Trees for Tribs application for her friend and neighbor across the river, Marc Devitt. He owns Devitt Management, a property management company located at 100 Ward Street. Right behind him is a section of the Wallkill River.
According to the DEC, the importance of a streamside buffer has a lot to do with protecting the water, but can also provide food for fish, shade streams and can keep soil in place. According to the DEC’s website, “Vegetation, such as trees, shrubs and grasses along waterways creates a natural buffer that protects the water and provides many benefits.”
In order to be eligible for Trees for Tribs, you need to manage or own land that is along at least 50 feet of a body of water or stream. If eligible, you recieve a free bag of seedlings.
In the application, Cockburn mentioned that much of the property, which 200 years ago was the Stratton Grist Mill, is very steep, with slopes that could use native plant reinforcement. When describing why this area would benefit from a buffer, Cockburn stated, in the application, “The Town of Montgomery has a Natural Resource Inventory that starts and stops at the borders of the villages of Montgomery and Walden but documents all Town land along the Wallkill. Project visibility would serve as a great reminder of the importance of our Hudson River Tributary and inspiration to improve and protect the natural areas more likely to be neglected and disrespected.”
She also included photos of the area. Turns out, the property is eligible.
Cockburn mentioned that the DEC came out during the winter time to scope out the area and finally, it’s time for it to happen.
“This is your state tax dollars coming back, and it’s a great service,” said Cockburn, who also stated the benefits for wildlife, “It can bring wild birds, hummingbirds or butterflies back because right now there’s nothing there.”
Between Cockburn and volunteers from the River Watershed Alliance and the Town of Montgomery Conservation Advisory Council, the planting will begin this week.
“There’s Pussy willows, Red oaks, Marsh dogwoods, River birches and all kinds of stuff that are there. They’re gonna start getting planted tomorrow,” Cockburn said.
After they’re planted, the DEC requires photos of the area, as well as different agreements for several years.
“The Trees for Tribs Program provided all the stakes and protective tubes, etc. to get this going and keep them protected until they take root and hold, along with a map of what species goes where. Two hundred sixty trees, bushes and plants were all delivered,” Cockburn said.