Water and Landscape Restoration Workshop at Paul-Lin Dairy
Thursday, March 30, 2023, Franklin County NRCD hosted a Water and Landscape Restoration Techniques Workshop at Paul-Lin Dairy in East Fairfield, VT. Guests gathered to learn how to implement low-tech, low-cost riparian restoration techniques using natural materials that are readily available along many streams and rivers in Vermont.
"Live stakes" are cuttings from plants like shrub willow, speckled alder, and red osier dogwood that can be easily planted and generally have strong, fast-growing roots that can quickly stabilize streambanks. Live stakes may be purchased from local nurseries, but they can also be cut from plants to lower project costs and utilize natural materials already present at the restoration site. Cuttings should be harvested between November and March when the plants are still in dormancy. They should be installed into the ground when the soil is not frozen, meaning that harvested stakes may need to be stored in a cool, dark, damp space for a few months between harvest and installation.
After learning how to harvest and plant live stakes, guests were able to use these techniques to implement a riparian restoration project in two of Paul-Lin Dairy's pastures. Guests braved the cold and with many helping hands, we were able to plant approximately 500 shrub willows and 500 speckled alders.
Initially live-staking project sites may look a little funny, with many stakes sticking vertically out of the soil. But the cuttings will likely start growing in no time, with some budding in the same year. Because these native plants are already growing in this area, we know they do well here and are likely to thrive. Successful plantings will help to stabilize the streambank, reduce erosion, and improve water quality.
After some hard work harvesting and planting live stakes, Franklin County NRCD staff Lauren Weston and Kate Wettergreen demonstrated another low-tech, low-cost restoration technique: beaver dam analogs. Beaver dam analogs are manmade structures that are placed in streams in order to mimic the functions of natural beaver dams.
Just like live staking, beaver dam analogs can be built using completely local, natural materials from a project site. Lauren and Kate placed vertical willow live stakes for stabilization, with willow branches weaved in and out to create horizontal structure and slow the water flow. Beaver dam analogs promote the settling out of sediment and nutrients and improve aquatic habitat. The live stakes may even grow into full shrub willows in the stream, adding additional beneficial woody structure.
At the end of the day, we celebrated all our hard work with the delicious gelato from Paisley Scoops, a local business owned by Paul and Linda Stanley's daughter, Ellen Stanley. Ellen creates her gelato using milk from Paul-Lin Dairy. You can find Paisley Scoops at farmers markets across Northwestern Vermont.
Thank you to all the attendees who came out and helped us harvest and plant live stakes at this beautiful project site, and big thanks to Paul-Lin Dairy in particular for having us!