River Builder program accepting new applications

River Builder program accepting new applications

Did you know that sedimentation is one of the biggest threats to the New River Watershed?  Excessive sediment deposits, soil particles that settle at the bottom of a body of water, in our streams and rivers can alter the flow of water and reduce water depth, which makes navigation and recreational use more difficult. Increased sediment loading in a stream will decrease water clarity and reduce visibility, making it harder for fish to find food and places to live. In excess amounts, they can fill in the habitat spaces between stream cobbles and rocks where aquatic organisms live and breed, suffocating the organisms, their habitat and their eggs. Large deposits of sediment likely  come from soil erosion.

There’s a way to combat this problem.  The best defense for soil erosion along a stream or river is a riparian buffer.  Stream buffers, or riparian buffers, are vital strips of vegetation like trees and shrubs along waterways that protect our water quality from adjacent land use. By planting vegetation along streams, space is created between the water and upland land uses, which helps protect the water quality and stream habitat through filtration of polluted surface runoff and by protecting streambanks from erosion by stabilizing soil with plant roots.

You’re not alone.  New River Conservancy (NRC) has a long, successful history of river and stream restoration through their River Builder program.  Since 1998, NRC’s River Builder has planted more than 850,000 trees and shrubs on 100 miles of streams within the New River watershed in North Carolina & Virginia.  In the process, NRC has worked with 350 different landowners who share the mission to plant buffers that serve as last lines of defense for water quality. Working on stream and river banks, as well as wetlands, NRC creates healthy and stable riparian buffers in order to reduce erosion, filter stormwater runoff, and provide habitat for local wildlife.

The River Builder Program offers three main services:

Free Consultation: NRC makes site visits to assess the streambank and consult with the landowner about available restoration options. We always follow up to ensure that the landowner has the information necessary to move forward.

Riparian Buffer Restoration: If the site is determined to be a good candidate for the River Builder program, preparations for the next planting season begin.  River Builder will supplement the cost to restore the riparian buffer with native plant material while the landowner manages and funds the remaining cost of the project.

Educational Workshops: NRC offers Riparian Restoration Workshops to educate the public on  watershed topics and restoration techniques. Workshops begin with classroom time to discuss hydrology, restoration techniques, and answer questions. Workshop attendees then get to put theory to practice by going outside to learn how to install livestakes on a stream bank.

If you feel your stream or river banks need a free assessment, please contact Katie Krogmeier at Katie@newriverconservancy.org.  New River Conservancy is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

 This stream bank before River Builder is absent any vegetation to slow down erosion.

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The same stream bank after River Builder features a lush riparian buffer. 

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