The concept for this project started in November 2010, when members of the Peekskill Conservation Advisory Council learned of a grant that was available from ELLA (Environmental Leadership Learning Alliance) for the purpose of cleaning streams in the Hudson River Watershed of debris and invasive plants and vines, and replanting the riparian borders of the streams with native trees and shrubs.
We applied for, and received, the benefit of this grant in the form of approximately 120 native trees and shrubs, which were planted along the south bank of MacGregory Brook between the railroad tracks and the Hudson River on Saturday, October 1, 2011.
This section was selected as appropriate by CAC members who had previously investigated other potential portions of the stream from Penelope Pond to Broad Street on a site visit on January 22.
Prior to planting day, the CAC used the Parks Cleanup Day in April, and sponsored several other days during the summer to remove trash from the banks and streambed, and shrubs, vines, and some trees that were dead or on the New York State list of invasive species.
We had much assistance from many groups and individuals. Staff from Peekskill’s departments of Public Works, Planning, and Parks were extremely supportive in this effort, providing us with gloves and tools, guidance and approvals, removal of dead trees, and protective temporary fencing. Other tools used in the plant cleanup and replanting phases were loaned to us by Clearwater, Groundwork Hudson Valley, Bronx River Parkway Reservation Conservancy’s Vinecutter.com program, and the Westchester County Department of Parks. ELLA, through funding from the Westchester Community Foundation, and the New York State Department
of Environmental Conservation offered the primary support, the latter through their Trees for Tribs program, which provided the plant material, a bobcat with auger that dug the holes for the new plants, and staff assistance on site.
Over 70 volunteers assisted in all phases of this project. Especially to be noted were the efforts of several youth from the Peekskill Youth Bureau, Americorps volunteers from the Hudson River Health Center, a contingent of volunteers from Pepsico organized by Clearwater, and numerous citizens of Peekskill who came to help.
The benefits of this planting project to Peekskill are many: the existing trees along the south side of the stream have been cleared of oriental bittersweet vines that had the capability of killing the trees; hazardous poison ivy vines and dead trees have been removed; the stream and its south bank have been opened up, cleaned of litter, and a buffer established with the new plants that will help protect the south bank from erosion caused by tidal action and excessive flooding. These plants are also beneficial to wildlife and are an attractive addition to Riverfront Green. In addition, the CAC established relationships with the above groups, all of whom expressed interest in a continued relationship with Peekskill as it undertakes further development of the waterfront and brook, which is a tributary of the Hudson River. The major beneficiary in the long run, of course, will be to the Hudson River, as the buffer plants help protect water quality.
Along with the above benefits, the monetary value of this project included $660 for plant material and supporting supplies as well as undetermined costs covered by the grant for transportation of the plants, rental of the bobcat, staff time, and administrative overhead on the part of ELLA and the DEC. Signage has also been provided by both organizations as an educational feature of the project.
As a requirement of the grant, the CAC will give a visual presentation and talk about the project and the importance of Hudson River Watershed conservation to a community group at a future date, and we will be happy to offer it to other appropriate groups.
In addition, CAC members and volunteers will monitor the restoration site for at least the first year, weeding and watering as necessary.