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Sacandaga River Restoration, Cave Banks, Wells

When it comes to getting conservation on the ground, partnerships make it happen. A 400 foot by 70 foot stream bank in 15the Town of Wells was saved because local landowners, the municipality, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District partnered together. The bank had been eroding for decades due to powerful undercutting by the Sacandaga River. In 2011, Hurricane Irene accelerated erosion, causing 2,500 cubic yards of soil loss. Erosion threatened property and valuable aquatic habitat.

“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.

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.

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Sacandaga River Restoration, Griffin Road, Wells

For many 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 9riverbank on Griffin Road in the town of Wells, NY. The project team consisting of the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District (HCSWCD), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Hamilton County and the Town of Wells Highway Departments partnered together in order to remedy this situation, with the objectives of restoring pool and riffle habitat for fish, reducing riverbank erosion, producing a single cooler, deeper channel and igniting the establishment of riparian vegetation. 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.

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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Elbow Creek Restoration, Wells

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.

NCD has been implemented on Elbow Creek, and the goal of restoration is to decrease erosion and sediment transport during a bank full event. J-hooks and cross vanes are rock structures that, when placed in a stream and along the bank, 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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Responsive Layouts


Oculus's responsive grid system is designed for desktop, tablet and smartphone systems, each with minor modifications to ensure compatibility in each mode. The table above shows the breakdown of screen resolutions and associated devices, and what layout characters are then applied to each.

Responsive Classes


Another useful feature available, via Bootstrap, is the collection of responsive utility classes that can be used to help tweak layouts by providing a simple method of showing or hiding modules. Insert the above module class suffixes into your settings to show/hide a module for a particular mode.

The District’s accomplishments would not be possible without the support of the State of New York, Hamilton County, and FLLOWPA.

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