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DEC program could help mitigate erosion at Laurel Lake

Clear waters at Laurel Lake. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

A new Trees for Tribs initiative from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, set to launch this spring, could help reforest areas surrounding Laurel Lake.

Called the “Buffer in a Bag” program, it will allow qualifying public and private landowners to apply for a free bag of 25 tree and shrub seedlings to be planted along streams, rivers or lakes — also known as riparian areas — to prevent erosion, increase flood water retention, improve habitats and protect water quality, according to the DEC.

John Sepenoski of the town’s geographic information systems outlined the program for town officials at Tuesday’s work session. He said it might be a start to mitigating erosion at Laurel Lake.

“We would be eligible for either one or two bags, depending on the linear footage that we want to restore,” Mr. Sepenoski said.

The seedlings would all be native species, such as bayberry, beach plum and eastern red cedar, he said, and Group for the East End would be willing to plant them toward the north end of the preserve, near the bluffs.

“There’s a severely eroded area where there’s no vegetation at all. That slumps off into Laurel Lake, which causes water quality problems,” Mr. Sepenoski said. “This would be a start to dealing with it … since it’s a free program, I’d recommend we take a shot at it and see how it goes.” 

The proposal was well received by Town Board members, and Supervisor Scott Russell said the program could be used as a trial. “If it works, it might not be such a bad thing down the road if we allocate resources, if it’s a program that’s viable,” he said.

According to the DEC, a total of 350 bags will be available statewide for the first round of applications, which are due April 3.

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