Tree Planting Along with Wallkill River
By Tara Hoey
From Issue 52: Winter 2022
On May 8, 2021 a group of 51 hardy volunteers and 3 Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) personnel set out in the rain and mud to plant 300 trees along the Wallkill River at the recently opened Riverbend Trails at Gardiner Park. This Trees for Tribs project was a huge undertaking. From start to completion it took over 300 volunteer hours to complete. The Town of Gardiner, in partnership with Climate Smart and Parks and Recreation, applied for and received a Trees for Tribs grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation which fully covered the cost of the project.
“The program’s goal is to plant trees and shrubs along streams to create a forested riparian (streamside) buffer that helps decrease erosion, reduce flooding damage, improve wildlife and stream habitat, and protect water quality.” – DEC
On planting day, it was wet and muddy but that didn’t stop our volunteers from turning up in force. They hiked 15 minutes to get to the planting site which had been prepared with 300 pre-dug holes. The DEC had evaluated the site and selected a mix of 170 native trees and 130 native shrubs best suited for this area. There were 28 different species of plants selected.
Under the direction of the DEC, volunteers were instructed on how to properly plant trees, install weed mats, and tree tubes.
Laszlo Andacs, of Laszlowimage LLC, donated aerial photos of the Trees for Tribs site documenting before and after photos for our historical records. He will continue to photograph the site in the years to come. With a total planting area of 38,400 square feet, his aerial photos are an important tool that will be used to monitor the trees and plants.
The planting site is along the Wallkill River, in an area classified as a 100-year floodplain, which means it should only flood once every 100 years. In the past year alone, it has experienced flooding three times. The trees planted will help stabilize the riverbank. This long-term positive impact of the planting project will benefit many generations to come. It is one important way our community can prepare and adapt to a changing climate. Our small community came together and made a big impact for the local environment.
We appreciate all the volunteers who helped last year and welcome residents who would like to assist us this year. Volunteers are needed to plant another 350 trees in May 2022 and to help with ongoing maintenance such as weeding, watering, mowing and keeping our tree tubes straight. Watering is especially important during the first two years of planting when the trees are establishing roots. Keep an eye out on the Climate Smart Gardiner Facebook Page or Town Meeting announcements for details as we get closer to May. If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact: email@example.com.