Photo: Chris Ray

Stream Restoration Project Completed at VanRiper Conservation Area

Thanks to a partnership between the Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT), the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Seneca County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), more than 600 feet of deeply eroded streambanks are now stabilized and in the process of recovering.

A small stream flows through the FLLT’s VanRiper Conservation Area on its way to Cayuga Lake. Many years ago, the stream’s hydrology was dramatically altered during the construction of nearby State Route 89. Surface runoff was concentrated into a culvert that passes under the state highway. This change increased flows into the stream, especially during storm events, leading to significant erosion and the deposition of topsoil and nutrients into the lake.

The FLLT requested assistance from the USFWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife program. A biologist from the program worked with staff from the FLLT and the SWCD to design the project, which involved restoring more natural “riffle and pool” flows by installing carefully placed log and rock structures. In contrast to more typical “riprap” erosion control projects, this approach more closely mimics natural processes and creates higher quality habitat for fish and wildlife.

Photo: Chris Ray

More than 600 feet of stream corridor was restored by first raising the level of the stream bed and then installing step pools that serve to dissipate the stream’s energy, reducing erosion. After completing the work, Land Trust staff and volunteers planted native trees and shrubs in the disturbed areas. The site will now be carefully monitored and additional work will occur as needed to complete and maintain the restoration project.

Funding for the restoration was provided by a grant from New York State’s Water Quality Improvement Program and contributions to the FLLT’s Finger Lakes Forever campaign.

The public is welcome to view the restoration site, but visitors are asked to stay on marked trails to minimize disturbance to the area. Directions and more preserve information.