Project will protect land surrounding Cobleskill Creek and includes the creation of an accessible trail for public and educational use
COBLESKILL, N.Y. – The Laura Jane Musser Fund has awarded an Environmental Initiative Grant of $29,200 to SUNY Cobleskill in support of the Cobleskill Creek Riparian Forest Trail. The College’s goals for this project are to protect and restore the riparian forests along Cobleskill Creek to enhance the ecosystem and to promote open space utilization for the College and the community.
The Cobleskill Creek Watershed has both agricultural and human development. These land uses have impacted the watershed by altering the hydrology and water quality. Additionally, this region has experienced significant flooding in recent years and more frequent, high-intensity storms are predicted as the climate continues to change.
This project hopes to foster resilient ecosystems in Schoharie County by restoring native upland and lowland forests that have increased water holding capacity, are less prone to erosion, and filter water of poor quality. These forests will support biodiversity, enhance wildlife habitat, and increase corridor connectivity for species that have declined due to habitat loss.
In addition, the project will create recreational space for students and faculty of SUNY Cobleskill and members of the public. The trail design includes considerations for residents who lack natural spaces in close proximity to where they live, work, or go to school, such as Schoharie County’s seniors, elementary and pre-school-aged children, and people with physical disabilities. The flat walking path will be accessible to all abilities and be marked throughout with interpretive and educational signage. The College has established parking lots at both ends of the trail, providing easy access for users.
SUNY Cobleskill will manage the trail for use in various educational purposes. Much of the trail building and maintenance work would be done collaboratively between the Plant Science department, the Fisheries, Wildlife, and Environmental Science department, the Agricultural Engineering department, and Athletics. Together, these groups will work to ensure the success and sustainability of the new trail and tree plantings.
In the spring of 2021, an Ecological Restoration class planted 800 trees and shrubs representing 22 species, stretching from the campus’ main entry points from Route 7 to the Cobleskill Creek. The forest is expected to provide canopy coverage to the area in about ten to 15 years. Ecological Restoration at SUNY Cobleskill introduces students to methods for restoring ecosystems common throughout North America and provides students with the tools and techniques necessary for planning, implementing, and evaluating restoration projects.
The Laura Jane Musser Fund assists public or not-for-profit entities to initiate or implement projects that enhance the ecological integrity of publicly-owned open spaces, while encouraging compatible human activities. The Fund’s goal is to promote public use of open space that improves a community’s quality of life and public health, while also ensuring the protection of healthy, viable and sustainable ecosystems by protecting or restoring habitat for a diversity of plant and animal species.