This fall the Lake George Association (LGA) has been at work along waters that flow into Lake George, including Foster Brook in the hamlet of Huletts Landing, and English Brook in Lake George Village. The LGA also partnered with the Warren County Conservation District (WCSWCD), and the towns of Hague and Bolton to remove over 1300 cubic yards of material from eight sediment basins in the two towns, the equivalent of about 110 dump truck loads.
At Huletts, Foster Brook was severely eroded during last year’s Tropical Storm Irene. Lots of unwanted material was deposited along the banks and within the stream, interrupting the natural flow of the water. This material was removed, and some was used, along with new stone, to stabilize the streambanks. In October, dozens of native plants and shrubs were planted along English Brook near its mouth at Lake George.
At Foster Brook, rock vanes were constructed to help direct storm flow and keep downstream banks protected. Large 36-to-48-inch stone was brought in to create the rock vane. An off-line sediment basin along the stream was cleaned out; an estimated 35 cubic yards of material were removed. (Off-line sediment basins are designed to take excess flow during storm events.) Areas that were disturbed were graded and covered with straw and seed.
Just downstream of the basin where a secondary stream enters Foster Brook, a large amount of material was deposited. The northern downstream bank had major undercutting as the streams location had been altered. The deposited material was pulled back against the eroding bank to stabilize it and open the stream channel. A second rock vane was installed to keep the flow of the stream in the middle of the channel and protect the other shoreline.
At English Brook, the LGA, Lake Champlain Lake George Regional Planning Board, Jarrett Engineers PLLC, and local property owners at the Lochlea estate worked together worked together to plant 120 native plants and shrubs along the brook and the Dwyer’s property. Plantings included arrowwood, red twig dogwood, red oak, high bush cranberry, eastern hemlock and more.
“When the subdivision at Lochlea was created,” said Tom Jarrett, one of the LGA members involved in the English brook project, “a 50 ft. vegetative buffer was designated along the brook. This buffer requirement is being honored during construction of Dan Dwyer’s property on the brook, but we thought we could do more.”
“The existing buffer on the property benefited greatly from some supplemental planting,” Emily DeBolt, said. “The existing understory was pretty sparse, and since English Brook is one of the larger tributaries to the lake, we wanted to help improve the buffer to protect the stream, and ultimately the lake. We decided to see if we could get some funding from a DEC program called Trees for Tribs, and we were successful.”
For streams in the towns of Hague and Bolton, a 65-foot-long reach excavator was rented for two weeks to complete the work. Each town contributed money and trucking services toward the project. WCSWCD provided project oversight with the assistance of the LGA.
As water flows downstream it carries sediment with it. The sediment can settle out at the mouth of the stream, introducing contaminants and creating deltas in Lake George. By slowing the flow of the water, sediment basins allow the sediment to drop out of suspension and be captured before entering Lake George. In order for the basins to work properly they need to be cleaned out every couple of years.
In addition to cleaning out the upland basin in Hague, the flow of the stream into the basin was realigned. Originally designed to receive 50% of the stream flow, material had built up over time in the old channel, directing 100% of the flow into the basin. Using some of the excess stone onsite from when the basin was constructed, the inlet to the basin was built up so that there would once again be a 50/50 split between the basin and the old channel. In the process, some small pools were created so that fish could migrate upstream, similar to a fish ladder.
In Hague a total of four basins were cleaned out, including two basins on Hague Brook, one on Jenkins Brook, and a fourth across the street from the town beach parking lot. In addition, the public boat launch area was also cleaned. A total of 715 cubic yards of material were removed from the Hague sites. The Hague highway department hauled all of the sediment; Morrissey Construction did the excavating in both towns.
In Bolton, just over 600 cubic yards of material were removed from four basins. The basins were located on Finkle Brook, Huddle Brook, and Indian Brook. Bolton Highway Department handled all of the trucking.
The Trees for Tribs program is run by the DEC’s State Tree Nursery at Saratoga, which supplies the plants for the program. Trees for Tribs is part of a DEC initiative to restore and protect streamside forests in the Lake Champlain Watershed. The program offers free native trees and shrubs for qualifying riparian buffer projects.
The Foster Brook project was funded through grant awards received from the Helen V. Froehlich Foundation. Construction was completed by Nims Outdoor Services with some assistance from the Dresden Town Highway Department.
Photos: Above, LGA staff members Jill Trunko (left) and Emily DeBolt stand near a newly planted eastern hemlock that is part of a new vegetative buffer along English Brook; below the Foster Brook project.