The Catskill Fly Fishing
Center and Museum

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July 22, 2003 1:21 PM

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Project Lorax (Arbor Day)

Bank-side trees and similar kinds of terrestrial foliage contribute in a major way to the energy flow of the free stone river, and are critical to maintaining a high level of productivity for trout and other cold water fish species. In fact, over 60% of all the energy that goes into a free stone river such as the Beaver Kill and Willowemoc Creek is in the form of detritis produced along the banks of those rivers. To emphasize these ecological relationships and to engage the students in the restoration of bank-side trees, a demonstration project involving the third grade of Roscoe Central School was initiated in 1994. Planting trees along the banks of the Beaver Kill was undertaken and is now in its 6th year. Last year, the program embraced Livingston Manor Central School as well.On Arbor Day (usually the last Friday in April), the third graders,teachers, parents of students, and a host of adult volunteers gather on the school grounds and plant trees donated by various groups (e.g. East Jersey Trout Unlimited, The Catskill Fly Fishing Center, Thedore Gordon Fly Fishers). Trees of various sizes and types have been supplied for our project below cost by Haledon Nurseries in Wayne, New Jersey. To date, over three hundred trees have been planted.

Arbor Day, 1999

The aim of this project is to create an awaress among school children for the role that trees play in the overall ecological scheme of the cold water fishery that runs by their school. In the class room, they learn that trees produce leaves that fall into the water and quickly rot, serving as a food source for the shredder species of aquatic insects, that, in turn are food for the trout. The number of leaves that are needed to produce just one pound of insects is staggering, in the neighborhood of 100 pounds! To produce a one-pound trout, a fish needs to eat over 10 pounds of insects. So the amount of plant material that eventually results in just a single pound of trout is well over 1,000 pounds. The formula for a successful river is quite simple: the more trees there are along the river, the more insects there will be each year. Plentiful insects equals more fish. They learn that planting bank-side trees also increases the shade of the river, sort of a natural air conditioner, if you will. Another function of trees is to harbor terrestrial insects of all kinds (e.g. ants, bees, wasps, beetles, etc.), some of which fall into the river all the time, supplementing the diet of aquatic insects that trout need to make it through each year of their growth cycle. Finally, they see for themselves that trees serve as an "anchor" for the soil and help to prevent erosion of the river banks. The instructor reads "The Lorax" to them, a Dr. Seuss book about ecology, and by the time they are ready to go to the school grounds and plant trees that day they all want to speak for the trees!

Please come and help them do so next Arbor Day. Perhaps you can also start a Lorax Project for your local river. Who knows? If all of us pitch in this way, the ecosystems that we have come to love so much just might survive intact into the 21st Century.

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