Thursday, October 6, 2011
A crew uses heavy machinery to scoop out the bed in Styles Brook in the town of Keene late last month. -(AP)
By now, most of us who spend a lot of time hanging around creeks have heard about the so-called emergency repairs done to protected trout streams in the Catskills and the Adirondacks in the wake of Tropical Storms Irene and Lee.
Numerous environmental groups, including the New York State Council of Trout Unlimited, have lodged protests with Gov. Andrew Cuomo for issuing a month-long blanket exemption from stream protection laws — an “emergency authorization” that was supposed to cover only imminent threats to life, property, etc.
Local governments and property owners appear to have taken the emergency authorization as a green light to go in and bulldoze, without penalty, streams they’ve wanted to bulldoze for years. The result has left streams all over eastern New York scraped flat and smooth, with sloping sides, like irrigation ditches, and local officials demanding the emergency authorization be extended so they can continue bulldozing.
This kind of work obviously
ruins trout habitat. But channelizing streams also makes them more dangerous, not less. Removing the boulders and contours — the “roughness” of the streambed — serves to accelerate water.