I’d been keeping an eye on this headwater stream for nearly a decade, giving thought now and then to ways of helping it out, especially in spring and fall when taking a short fly rod to the water. My interest had begun when I joined the Upper Genesee Chapter of Trout Unlimited and committed much of my fishing and exploration efforts to the headwaters of the Genesee in both Pennsylvania and New York. I may have talked too much about habitat restoration, but I brought this stream (T-2) and others to our table.
At first there were clean-up projects and tree plantings on the lower waters such as Orebed, Wileyville and Cryder creeks, as well as on higher stretches like the one in the old meadow here on T-2. For all of it, we needed the approval and support of landowners– none of our labors were accomplished on public land. We needed to communicate and open channels with the people who resided nearby or had control of streamside property. Our work on T-2 could not have been accomplished without the blessings and consent of those with title to the land and waters.
The latest phase of our partnership with the landowners involved the year of planning for T-2, from the point of my initial vision for the project to the application for a work permit from the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and then to a design produced by the DEC. I don’t think anyone involved, professional or volunteer, could have asked for a better work relationship than with the property owners at T-2.
At site#2 of the project we assisted Mother Nature with her work at keeping house beside a miniature trout pool. An apple tree was deeply undercut and ready to collapse. We entrenched three 12-foot logs together and had them angled downstream and away from the undercut. Two more 12-footers were pinned side by side beneath the tree and back-filled with rocks. Live willow-stakes were planted at the bank entrenchment.
Site #3 was our biggest job, one that would require our efforts for the whole afternoon, the next morning, and then, finally, a couple of additional hours later in the month. Here we had to roll 10-foot logs to an undercut bank beneath an overhang of hemlock trees. The first row of logs was 40 feet long and the second row of side-by-sides was 50 feet in length.
The long pool’s water was already fairly deep, and each log had to be pinned into a rocky streambed. On the opposite bank we embedded several 12-footers, or “bendway” logs– the first two angled upstream and a third one angled down. Together they would help direct the flow and add to the overall structure needed by the trout. The pool would become deeper, cooler, and provide more cover.
When we started work by rolling logs and driving rebar, I lost the wrist-watch I was wearing, but didn’t realize the loss, or where it occurred, till later in the day. Next morning a Boy Scout volunteer, working in the pool at site 3, pulled the wrist-watch from the muddy water. The cheap Timex was still running and hadn’t missed a beat!
We volunteers hadn’t missed a beat either. Friday afternoon I took a crew of four guys with a chainsaw to work site #4. We halved a couple of 16-foot logs and walked them to an undercut beneath small hemlock trees. The logs were pinned side-by-side along the bank– a simple set at the head of a riffle that would soon provide new fish cover.
The work at all four sites had proceeded faster and more efficiently than anticipated, though I shouldn’t have been surprised by that. Our previous projects, whether clean-up or planting trees, were successfully completed in a minimum of time, a testament to the power of concerted effort made by dedicated volunteers.