Monday, March 26, 2018

NYS Offers Riparian Opportunity Assessment Tools

Riparian Restoration and Protection SitesNew York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the New York Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP) have announced the release of the Statewide Riparian Opportunity Assessment, which provides a suite of tools to help identify and prioritize riparian (stream side) sites for restoration or protection.

This assessment will support DEC’s Trees for Tribs program, which is working with partners and volunteers to create and improve riparian buffers by planting native trees and shrubs along streams.

The Statewide Riparian Opportunity Assessment packages geographical data and analysis tools for viewing information about sub-watersheds and smaller catchments throughout the state. Geographical data layers include indicators of ecological health and stress such as land use, forest canopy cover, water quality, impervious surface, and habitat for rare species.

The assessment was funded by the Environmental Protection Fund and developed by NYNHP with guidance from DEC, the State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the NYS Department of State, The Nature Conservancy, and the Upper Susquehanna Coalition.

Conservation practitioners, watershed stakeholders and others can use the assessment to inform decisions about where to perform riparian restoration and protection in their regions, and to guide related conservation work such as land protection for drinking water sources and rare habitats. Users are encouraged to check assessment results by visiting riparian sites identified using the suite of tools. Based on site conditions observed in the field, users can seek solutions for improving or protecting the riparian area, including participating in DEC’s Trees for Tribs program to restore riparian areas.

Since 2007, New York State’s Trees for Tribs Program has been working to reforest New York’s tributaries, or small creeks and streams, which flow into and feed larger rivers and lakes. The program plants young trees and shrubs along riparian areas. Trees for Tribs has engaged more than 8,700 volunteers in planting more than 101,400 trees and shrubs at 614 sites across New York State. Trees for Tribs provides landowners, municipalities, and conservation organizations with low-cost or no-cost native plants and free technical assistance. Native bareroot trees and shrubs are provided by the Saratoga State Tree Nursery, which has specialized in reforesting New York State since 1911.

DEC and NYNHP are hosting a webinar for stakeholders to learn more about the new online tools on April 19, 2018, from noon to 1 pm. NYNHP will provide a tutorial on how to navigate and use these tools and DEC will share information on how the tools can be used in developing Trees for Tribs projects. To register for this webinar, click here. The webinar will be recorded and posted to the DEC Trees for Tribs webpage.

The New York Natural Heritage Program is a program of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry that is administered through a partnership between SUNY ESF and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. The mission of the New York Natural Heritage Program is to facilitate conservation of rare animals, rare plants, and significant New York ecosystems.

To learn more about the assessment tools, click here. To learn more about NYSDEC’s Trees for Tribs program, click here.

Photo courtesy New York Natural Heritage Program.

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