Streambank and Shoreline Stabilization

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Assistance is offered to landowners and municipalities with stabilizing shorelines to prevent erosion and sedimentation. Site visits can be scheduled to determine the goals of the landowner and municipality. Site specific best management practices will be recommended.

For more information and price quotes, please contact Lenny Croote through our Contact Us page.

Griffin Road Wells Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District 18


Technical assistance is offered for bank stabilization best management practices including bioengineering with live willow stakes and natural channel design.

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Streambank Stabilization

Elbow Creek

Elbow Creek Natural Channel Design

Environmental processes and human-induced practices often alter the natural morphology of a stream, resulting in bank erosion and sediment transport. Natural Channel Design (NCD) is a fairly new concept to CrossVeinInstallationstream restoration that utilizes the natural fluvial geomorphology of a stream to promote stabilization and to reconstruct aquatic and flood plain habitat.

Elbow Creek is a major tributary that enters Lake Algonquin, Wells, NY. In 1996, a severe storm event washed out a section of Glimantown Road. Beadload was carried to flat sections of the stream, velocity decreased, and cobble and pavement were deposited in the streambed and in Lake Algonquin. Since then, other storm events have further increased bank erosion as water is deflected off the deposited material in the channel to stream banks. Local landowners suffer from soil erosion, tourism is impacted with decreased fish populations, and the Elbow Creek ecosystem has been adversely impacted.
Elbow Creek Wells Cross Vein Installation
Natural Channel Design was implemented on Elbow Creek to decrease erosion and sediment transport during a bank full event. J-hooks and cross vanes were installed along a 1900-foot stretch of the river to diffuse and redirect the energy of the stream to the middle of the channel, reducing bank erosion. This reestablishes the flow of the stream to a more stable, non-erosive state. Pools behind these structures create superb habitat for aquatic life. Structures were installed along a 1900-foot stretch of Elbow Creek.
This project was a success due to the joint efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (operator of structure installation and project design), Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District (project coordinator, provided grant funds for restoration material and equipment), Town of Wells Highway Department (provided trucking for removal of spoil), and the Hamilton County Highway Department (trucking and hauling of rock).

If you would like more information on this project or Natural Channel Design, please contact the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District office at (518) 548-3991.

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Elbow Creek - Wells

Elbow Creek Protection Project

Roadside banks along Gilmantown Road that had been eroding for decades are now protected thanks to a project spearheaded by the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Soil erosion is a natural process that, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, involves the breakdown and transportation of soil particles by water, wind, and gravity. Approximately 15,000 square feet of roadside banks along Gilmantown Road are exposed with a 60 percent slope.

Erosion occurs due to a lack of vegetation to hold soil in place and steep slopes. Soil has washed out into the road, damaging infrastructure. Sediment has been deposited into nearby Elbow Creek, filling in trout and macroinvertebrate habitat.

These threatening conditions spurred the Elbow Creek Protection Project, and the District secured funding through the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Water Quality Improvement Project to get conservation on the ground.

“This project came to fruition thanks to incredible partnerships,” said District Manager Elizabeth Mangle. “We couldn’t have done it without the help of DEC, Hamilton County Department of Public Works, Town of Wells Highway Department, New York State Soil and Water Conservation Committee,
Natural Resources Conservation Service, Upper Hudson River Watershed Coalition, Fulton County Soil and Water Conservation District, Team EJ Prescott, and Ward Logging LLC.”

The first phase of project implementation was site preparation. Debris, rocks, and woody vegetation were removed, and all herbaceous vegetation was cut flush to the slope in order to create a clean, smooth surface for the installation of erosion control materials.

The erosion control materials utilized in this project included ProGanics biotic soil media, coconut blankets, and coir logs. These materials are less expensive than conventional erosion control methods, and were chosen for this stabilization project due to site conditions of sandy soils; steep slopes; and wooded, shady locations.

ProGanics, a biotic soil media, were installed with a hydroseeder to increase the organic content of the sandy soil. Grass seed, water, fertilizer, and lime were mixed into the ProGanics then sprayed onto the roadside banks.

Rolled erosion control coconut blankets were installed over the ProGanics to provide erosion protection, and to absorb moisture to feed the grass seed during establishment. A lift was used to place the blankets at the top of the slopes, and facilitated with unrolling the blankets down the banks. Staples were installed to hold the blankets in place. Coconut blankets provide the maximum amount of protection, and will completely degrade over time.

Coir logs made out of biodegradable coconut were installed for sediment control at the toe of the slope, slope interruption, and to slow water velocity. A trench was dug to allow the logs to sit on a flat surface, and stakes secured the logs in place.

“People can watch our Elbow Creek Protection Project video by visiting our website, Facebook, or YouTube pages,” says District Conservation Educator Caitlin Stewart. “The video details the installation process from start to finish, highlighting each of the erosion control materials.”

Erosion of the roadside banks along Gilmantown Road created environmental and infrastructure safety concerns. The ProGanics, coconut blankets, and coir logs installed at the project site will prevent erosion, protect the water quality of Elbow Creek, reduce road maintenance, and save taxpayer dollars.

Sagandaga River

Cave Banks, Wells

A 400 foot by 70 foot stream bank known as Cave Banks was severely eroding into the Sacandaga River, and transporting sediment into Lake Algonquin. The District, alongside landowners, the Town of Wells, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partnered to get conservation on the ground. Tree root balls were placed in the river and rubble was piled on top to act as the foundation for the bench. The bank was re-graded and hydroseeded with high test mulch specifically formulated for steep grades to stabilize the soil.

Griffin Road Wells Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District 14
“That section of the Sacandaga River known as Cave Banks has been a major source of sedimentation to Lake Algonquin just downstream for more than 50 years,” explained Brian Towers, Town of Wells Supervisor. “However, it was not until the effects of Hurricane Irene that the bank eroded to the point of jeopardizing several homes situated above and along the shoreline. Through the tireless efforts of the homeowners, an assortment of town, county, state and federal agencies were able to come together to design and implement a remediation project that not only protected landowners, but greatly reduced future sedimentation to the river and lake.”

The sandy stream bank is located on an outside bend of the Sacandaga River. When the river was undercutting the toe, or bottom, of the bank, sand collapsed from the top into the stream bed. This sand was washed into Lake Algonquin where it filled in aquatic habitat important to critters like fish and insects. Houses and camps were in jeopardy of falling into the river.

During the early stages of the project in the winter months of 2012, meetings provided a platform for dialogue between agency employees, municipal staff, and landowners. It was during these meetings that the skeletal work for project implementation was fleshed out.

Cave Banks Wells Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District 8
In the spring of 2012, District staff assisted the Hamilton County Highway Department in writing a successful Flood Mitigation Grant through the Department of Environmental Conservation that brought over $300,000 into Hamilton County to aid six projects in the towns of Wells, Lake Pleasant, and Indian Lake. The grant provided funds for this stream bank stabilization project that included construction materials and equipment rentals.
To get the project rolling, permits were obtained from the DEC, the Adirondack Park Agency, and the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Construction material was collected to build the bench, or a flat section of land located at the bottom of a stream bank that acts as a flood plain to absorb water before it hits the toe. Town of Wells Highway Department staff collected and transported tree root balls to the site. Root balls were placed in the river and rubble was piled on top to act as the foundation for the bench. The bank was then re-graded to decrease the slope, decreasing erosion form the top. District staff hydroseeded the bank with high test mulch specifically formulated for steep grades to stabilize the soil.

“This project was a perfect example of government agencies working collectively to benefit the environment and the larger community,” stated Towers.

Many people partnered together to take this stream bank restoration project from plans on paper through to fruition. The invaluable Carl Schwartz, USFWS’s New York Field Office, engineered and oversaw the project. Without his expertise in natural channel design, this project would not have happened. The time he donated was a huge cost-saver. The Town of Wells provided excellent equipment operators that assisted with building the bench, stabilizing the bank, and hauling construction materials to the site. The District completed the necessary permits and hydroseeded the bank and disturbed areas. Many thanks go out to the local landowners who gave access to the site from their property and allowed for the storage of materials on their land. All of the people involved understand that partnerships result in projects that benefit neighbors and the environment.

Griffin Road, Wells

For years, aquatic habitat essential to brook trout and other species has been compromised due to a migrating channel of the Sacandaga River that has eaten away at a 300-foot reach of a 30 foot riverbank on Griffin Road. Partners including the District, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hamilton County Department of Public Works, and the Town of Wells Highway Department stabilized the bank using Natural Channel Design. This stream restoration method returns a river to its natural state after disturbance, prevents riverbank erosion, and reconstructs flood plain habitat.

Streambank Stabilization Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District
The eroding bank was stabilized using Natural Channel Design (NCD), a stream restoration method that returns a river to its natural state after disturbance such as straightening, thus preventing further riverbank erosion, promoting soil stabilization and reconstructing flood plain habitat.

The section of the Sacandaga River that flows south towards the Town of Wells into Lake Algonquin possesses a steep gradient that drops 700 vertical feet over 8 miles. As the river flows towards Griffin Road (County Road No. 8), gradient lessens, and the river becomes braided with 4 channels intertwining on the landscape. One of these channels, the eastern channel, has laterally migrated towards the left riverbank, causing severe erosion that threatens the stability of County Road No. 8, utilities including water, electric, and phone, as well as residential property. The riverbank has been eroding at a rate of approximately 2 feet per year. If the situation was not alleviated, County Road No. 8, utilities, and property would eventually be eroded into the Sacandaga River. Sediment has been deposited into the river, decreasing water clarity and filling in critical habitat for aquatic organisms.

Griffin Road Wells Left
The project utilized NCD in order to prevent the riverbank from being further eroded into the Sacandaga River. Three J-hooks were installed in order to redirect the energy of the river away from the eroding bank towards the center of the channel. In addition, these structures create superb habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms. A bank full bench was installed to stabilize the toe of the bank and to act as an artificial flood plain.
Total combined cash (equipment, materials, rental fees) including in-kind services from the project team, was approximately $53,000. Materials for this project were purchased through USFWS, as well as Hamilton County funds. The use of NCD resulted in a tremendous cost savings in comparison to other conventional methods that could have been implemented for this project with one estimate of over 1 million dollars. In addition, NCD is one of the most environmentally sound ways to re-stabilize a river. We wish to extend our sincere appreciation to the USFWS, the Town of Wells Highway Department, and the Hamilton County Highway Department for their diligent efforts in completing this project. We wish to extend a special thank you to Carl Schwartz, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Coordinator of the USFWS, who was recently awarded certificates of appreciation from the Greater Adirondack Resource Conservation and Development Council (GARC&D) and the HCSWCD for his efforts not only in Hamilton County (NCD on the Griffin Road and Elbow Creek projects), but throughout the GARC&D region.

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Sagandaga River - Griffin Road - Wells