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Riparian Repairs

Notes from the North Woods

The non-native fish ‘crappie’ have been discovered in Raquette Lake, and will most likely establish itself throughout the surrounding watershed.

The non-native fish ‘crappie’ have been discovered in Raquette Lake, and will most likely establish itself throughout the surrounding watershed.

Recent reports indicate Essex County recently received significant funding from a combination of state and federal sources to pay for the removal of debris, and the restoration of a many local river and stream corridors.

Fortunately, the Department of Transportation was quick to promptly repair the local highways following recent floods, however it is the waterways that attract a major portion of the region’s visitors. The tourism industry relies on an abundance of easily accessible, clean, fresh, free-flowing waters to attract anglers, paddlers, birders and other users.

The NYSDEC has already committed over $9 million towards the effort, and further funding is expected. Restoration efforts will focus on the removal of debris, which includes far more than just sticks and stones, as well as installation of weirs, dredging of rivers channels, riverbank plantings and the repair or replacement of several bridges.

It is astounding to realize the extent of the damage, and to discover the amount of material that must be removed from both the riverbeds, and the adjacent riverbanks. While much of the debris consists of logs, rocks, roots and such, there is also a significant degree of manmade material ranging from washing machines to vinyl siding, tin roofs to tarmac. There are over 10,000 cubic yards of debris awaiting removal at just nine locations, for which funding has already been received.

When the river ice breaks up in the spring, I expect there will be more damage discovered, including large logjams, and significant sections of channels and riverbanks that will require restoration. Our abundance of clean, free flowing, freshwater is as important to Essex County’s tourism industry as the very mountains the waters flow out of.

Although the opening day of trout season remains over a month away, visiting anglers are already in the process of planning trips for the upcoming season. I have already fielded numerous inquiries regarding the condition of our local fisheries. Paddlers and anglers want to know what to expect, as well as what they can do. My advice is always, “Come see it for yourself.”

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net.

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