The Mercy Farm
Arnold Mercy owns farmland bordering the South Branch of the Trout River, which he leases to another local farmer to grow corn. In 2011 the MRBA helped with a tree planting on his land that was one of the largest in our history- in total, 2,900 trees were planted on 114 acres of land. Now the trees and shrubs have grown up along the bank, providing shade and habitat for wildlife, as well as a buffer from the corn field.
The planting took place in 2011 with a variety of species, including sugar maple, white pine, paper birch, basswood, shrub willow, silky dogwood, and black cherry. Most of the stems planted were shrub willow and silky dogwood. A group of volunteers from the MRBA helped with planting along with a hired planting crew. They planted in early spring before the trees leafed out. Gaps were filled in with another small planting in 2012.
Goals of the Project included:
-Reducing excess sediment, nutrients, organic material, pesticides in surface runoff and excess chemicals and nutrients in shallow ground water flow
-Creating shade to lower the water temperature and provide large woody debris for aquatic habitat
-Creating wildlife habitat by establishing wildlife corridors and restoring natural riparian plant communities
The South Branch of the Trout River now has a healthy buffer of trees, shrubs, and naturally regenerated plants, and the MRBA is thrilled to have completed one of our biggest projects to date.
The planting was funded through CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program). CREP is part of a federally-funded program that contracts with agricultural producers so that environmentally sensitive agricultural land is not farmed or ranched, but instead used for conservation benefits. CREP typically plants trees on places like riparian areas (stream bank). They then lease the land from farmers for 10-15 years, paying a yearly sum to the landowner.
The land had been used as pasture and hay field for many years and only small patches of mature forest still existed by the river. Because of this sparse vegetation, runoff from farm fields could more easily impact water quality.
A map of the planting area, highlighted in blue
Before: the site in 2011
After: the site in 2019
This project was funded by an agreement LC00A00394 awarded by the Environmental Protection Agency to the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program. NEIWPCC manages LCBP’s personnel, contract, grant, and budget tasks and provides input on the program’s activities through a partnership with the LCBP Steering Committee.
Although the information in this document has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection agency under agreement LC00A00394 to NEIWPCC, it has not undergone the Agency’s publications review process and therefore, may not necessarily reflect the views of the Agency and no official endorsement should be inferred. The viewpoints expressed here do not necessarily represent those of NEIWPCC, the LCBP Steering Committee, or EPA, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or causes constitute endorsement or recommendation for use.
This story was produced with the generous support of the Lake Champlain Basin Program and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission