In 2019, the Creek Rats broke ground on a project years in the making: Ollie’s Point. If you’re familiar with the stretch of Creekwalk down by Maltbie Street, you’re probably familiar with our revegetation signage and caution tape, if not the many volunteers working throughout the summer to keep new plantings weeded and watered.
The Ollie’s Point project has three main objectives:
- Beautify this natural space along the Creekwalk and creek
- Stabilize the shoreline and protect from further erosion
- Celebrate the many hands who working together enhance our community.
Over the course of 2019-2021, we are:
- Revegetating Ollie’s Point with shrub willow
- Installing natural limestone rocks to mark Ollie’s Point and provide spots to sit.
What is the “revegetation area” in Franklin Square?
Yep, that’s our project and this is Ollie’s Point. In short, we have weeded this area of Japanese Knotweed and replanted it with shrub willow plants surrounded by grasses. If you look closely, you’ll see a grid of small plants with pink ribbons — these are the new shrub willows planted in June 2019. Throughout the summer, volunteers take turns re-weeding (by hand, sometimes by steaming technique) the area of the fast growing knotweed, and watering the new shrub willows.
Why replace Japanese Knotweed with shrub willow?
Knotweed control and bank stabilization.
Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) has become a widespread problem in recent years. It is able to spread quickly across an area, growing rather tall and dense. This behavior shades out neighboring species, especially those native and beneficial to the local ecosystem. Knotweed itself has a very shallow root structure, leaving an area dominated by knotweed lacking an underground structure to hold the soil of the stream banks. Over time this risks rapid stream bank erosion and increased surface runoff.
Shrub willow, on the other hand, is an alternative stream bank plant recommended for stabilizing against erosion and without the invasive characteristics. Seeds from shrub willow have a short life span and are sensitive to site conditions so they do not compete with other vegetation (Northeast Bioenergy Extension Blog).
Specifically for our project, in 2019 we began with 73 shrub willow cuttings of a cultivar, Salix caprea hybrid ‘S365’, of which approximately 60 survived the full first year. In 2020, approximately 25 replacement cuttings of a native shrub willow, silky willow (Salix sericea), were generously supplied by Cornell AgriTech (at the NYS Ag Experiment Station) as leftover from another riparian project, and introduced at Ollie’s Point.
How does this project support the mission of the Creek Rats?
Our mission is to cleanup the creek in and out — to remove the years of junk thrown in the creek and keep the creek open and desirable for recreational use. We know our organization’s efforts are effective when we observe more people canoeing or kayaking the creek, and this project focuses on both cleanup of, and access to, the creek.
The specific location of Ollie’s Point was chosen to beautify, stabilize, and emphasize one of the better take-out points for canoeists and kayakers along the creek. Ollie’s Point offers a shallow shoreline where it’s easy to pull up and jump out. Additionally, this spot has easily accessed pathways between the Creekwalk and creek, in addition to being a short distance from parking for a transport vehicle. If you’re looking to canoe or kayak the creek, Ollie’s Point is a key reference point (also included on our map of key reference points).
Lastly, our ability to support our mission is critically dependent on numerous, dedicated volunteers. The Ollie’s Point project allows us to commemorate with a small plaque those we’ve lost, and celebrate the many people who working together build a rich community.
More Information and References
Double A Willow [as of 2020, no longer a commercial willow operation]
Vermont Willow Nursery [a commercial source for willow cuttings]