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Upcoming and Recent USC Projects

Project Title/Name: A Comprehensive Conservation Riparian Buffer Approach in NY

Project Description
Our approach will offer fresh incentives to farmers hesitant to participate in traditional buffer programs while continuing to use conventional programs to provide a variety of cost share options.

We will 1) develop and demonstrate a flexible buffer program with innovative tools and programs to fill niches not met by traditional programs and 2) install riparian buffers, livestock exclusion, grazing and other practices through conventional programs and standards using the USC Grazing Initiative integrated approach.

Grant Award: $300,000

Project Title: An Approach for Natural Infrastructure Restoration.

Project Description: We will use aquatic habitats to locate restoration sites that also reduce sediment and nutrients. We will design three large natural infrastructure projects. (this is a planning/design grant).

Project Abstract: We propose two tasks. One is to develop 3 designs for large-scale natural infrastructure projects that will have significant flood water storage, nutrient and sediment reductions and increased habit acreage and quality. These projects are excellent examples of how, over time, the natural landscape has been modified and reduced in functions and services while still looking “natural”. We hope to begin the process to analyze rural landscapes and find sites that can be restored to a more functional, natural state that does not require “maintenance” Our second task is to use key species habitats to locate specific sites, when restored, will not only provide excellent habitat for one or more species on our list but also reduce sediment ant nutrient loading. Because many of the BMPs needed to rehabilitate a site are tried and true sediment/nutrient reduction practices (e.g., riparian buffers) we believe this cross-cutting approach will be an effective way to combine biological with pollutant objectives.

Grant Award Amount: $80,500

NYS CFA: Wetland Construction and Floodplain Enhancement

The Upper Susquehanna Coalition (USC) of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, through Tioga County SWCD, received a NYS  CFA grant for the Southern Tier to construct 120 acres of wetlands and remove 48,000 feet of streamside berms to reconnect the streams to their floodplainsWetlands will be constructed on NY State lands in partnership with NYS DEC foresters who are presently completing on such a project with USC Biologists under another grant.  This highly successful venture will help attenuate floods, improve water quality and diversify habitat.  The berm removal component will target counties recently impacted by Tropical Storm Lee; it will provide high stream flows during major storms access to the floodplain, where the damaging power of concentrated stream flow will be attenuated.  With the advent of continuing climate change and larger, more frequent rainfall events there is need to ensure watersheds can function correctly by implementing projects that address stormwater by "slowing it down, spreading it out and soaking it in".

Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board- has been awarded funds and a 2 year contract to develop a Susquehanna Chemung Action Plan: An Ecosystem Based Management Plan for the Susquehanna and Chemung Basins of New York. This grant includes funds for monitoring and data collection.

The USC voted to join Chesapeake Bay Coalition and to participate in the Choose Clean Water Campaign. Choose Clean Water, a campaign for the Chesapeake and all of its waters, will seek federal leadership to improve water quality in the hundreds of streams and rivers that flow into the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay Coalition and the members of its non-profit organizations will work with both the federal government and local communities of the 53 members of Congress that represent the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Izaak Walton League of America (IWLA) was started by 2 teachers to provide a program to students teaching hands on analysis of streams. The program focuses on middle school students monitoring chemistry, biology, and flow components of streams within walking distance of schools. The program spreads interest and capabilities of water quality monitoring. IWLA would like to expand programmatically and geographically to partner with the Upper Susquehanna Coalition and start monitoring before, during, and after a restoration effort in USC projects.

Wetland Projects

In October 2012 the USC and many partners helped host a Northeast Wetland Restoration Institute (NEWRI) in Tully, New York.. The week-long training introducted participants to wetland restoration techniques, methods of identifying suitable restoration sites, visited ongoing and completed restoration project, toured the National Drain Tile Museum, and culminated in the construction of two vernal pools and the restoration of a failed amphibian habitat. Pictures from the workshop are posted here, and additional workshop information is available on The Wetland Trust's website.

The USC Wetland Team cooperated with Tom Biebighauser of the U.S. Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy on a vernal pool restoration training session at Kings Gap State Park in Carlisle, P.A. in August 2010. Visit this link to view

The USC received a Wetland Development Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This project will strengthen the protection aspects of the Upper Susquehanna Coalition's Wetland Program by developing a basin-wide mitigation component. We will also study wetlands at risk to better understand their functionality for incorporation into restoration and protection projects. The USC will write a briefing paper on the status of wetlands in the Headwaters of the Susquehanna River; create a wetland banking and in-lieu fee instrument; research how to develop wetland banks and develop criteria for protecting vulnerable wetlands through restoration and protection strategies.

These strategies will include model codes for local planning agencies that include wetland protection and regulation measures that include a mitigation component and outreach to municipalities. USC will develop a catalogue of 25 potential wetland restoration sites that could be used for banking and also 20 "educational sites" for training municipal officials on how wetlands degrade. All aspects of this project will be a subject for college coursework or studies at either SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry or Binghamton University, as well as support NYS Department of Environmental Conservation's Susquehanna/Chemung Action Plan and the NY Strategy to meet Chesapeake Bay nutrient and sediment loads.

The USC received a Green Innovation Grant from the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (NYSEFC) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The grant is for $736,000 and titled ‘Wetland Restoration in the NY Susquehanna River Basin' and will create 200 acres of wetlands by January 1, 2012.


Stream Program Projects

21 members of the Upper Susquehanna Coalition and partners attended a three day training geared towards developing Coalition member capacity in addressing watershed and stream resource management issues.  The first day of training provided methodology for developing watershed background reports and assessment methodologies to provide tools in determining how best to approach watershed problems and issues.  Additionally, participants were exposed to morphological features of different stream types to help determine the relative and comparative "health or stability" of the stream.  The second day of the training focused on field data collection and work up to verify those "morphological" features and how they relate to visual inspections.  The third day was spent introducing evaluation and predictive tools and utilizing them in the field.

The three day training is the first in a series of training events sponsored by the USC to create a group of individuals that can assist communities in better addressing stream channel and watershed management challenges in the region.





















Upper Susquehanna Coalition
Main Office: 183 Corporate Drive - Owego, NY 13827 - (607) 687-3553
Coordinator: Wendy Walsh - 183 Corporate Drive - Owego, NY 13827 - (607) 687-3553 wwalsh@u-s-c.org