December 2, 2021

State funds used for stream buffers in Cortland County

Jamie Costa/staff reporter

A branch of Trout Brook Creek closest to Shared Roots Farm in McGraw has suffered erosion and stream flooding caused by severe storms. The state has awarded $331,000 in grants to four Cortland County farms to build stream buffers.

Four Cortland County farms have received $331,000 from the state to build stream buffers to help them cope with erosion and flooding.

For Shared Roots owner Brett Morris, his effort to stabilize his stream bank and protect his fields project would not be feasible without the state funding from the Climate Resilient Farming Program.

“We grow a diverse mix of certified organic vegetables,” said Morris, of Solon. “The stream has spilled over it’s bank twice now since we’ve been here.” Morris has owned the property for seven years.

The four farms contacted Amanda Barber, district manager of Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District, for technical support and she encouraged them to apply.

All four were selected:

  • Shared Roots farm.
  • Deer Slope Farm of Solon, owned by David Augur of Solon.
  • McUmber’s Farm of Solon, owned by Leon McUmber.
  • Shiner’s Rise Farm of Willet, owned by Robert Edwards.

“There are several projects related to stream stabilization,” Barber said. “The change in climate has caused high-intensity storm events that have wreaked havoc on our streams and systems.”

The projects will focus on building stream buffers in the form of trees, shrubs and brush to reduce flooding, erosion and excess stream flow.

“Extreme weather caused by climate change is becoming the new normal, and the results can be devastating to New York’s farmers and the entire agriculture industry,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in announcing the grants. “This funding will help our farmers continue to care for their land and protect crops and livestock from extreme weather damage.”

Cuomo estimates the 80 funded projects will reduce greenhouse gases by 90,000 metric tons, which is equivalent to taking 20,000 cars off the road.

Beyond that, the projects can keep the farms in good working order. Morris said stream bank stabilization would better prepare Shared Roots for floods that could cost it valuable soil.

“The stream bank is visibly eroding and has visibly eroded in the last seven years,” Morris said. “There have been several extreme weather events with multiple inches of rain falling in a short period of time.”

Without the grant, Morris would have planted his own trees. Still, he would expect to continue to lose soil to erosion.

“They’re helping us stabilize the bank in many other ways,” Morris said. “The quicker it can be resolved, the better for future generations.”