More plants needed for Whittier Road stabilization project

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FARMINGTON — Only 25 percent of vegetation planted on the riverbank at the site of the Whittier Road stabilization project has survived the first year.

The survival rate of vegetation needs to be at 70 percent by the end of the second year to meet conditions of some grants and permits received on the project, Town Manager Richard Davis recently told the Board of Selectmen.

A planting plan will need to be submitted in January.

Davis is looking to hold a May planting day with the town supplying the plants at an estimated cost of $1,600, he said.

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Volunteers from Foster Technology Center’s forestry program and senior students at the University of Maine at Farmington are expected to participate, he said.

A review of the site at the end of the first year showed some problems with the stabilization planting technique and plant survival, according to Annie Donovan from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who reported the findings to Maine FEMA. Members of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection participated in the review.

According to Donovan’s report, which was shared by Davis, 233 of the initial 500 plants were found on the banking. Only 124 of the 233 were alive and 109 were dead. The other 250-plus plants were not found and assumed dead.

Heavy rains this year have also caused some fabric to rise above the ground which may have factored in to less revegetation. The flaps will need to be fixed this fall so ice and debris will not be caught during high-water events, she reported.

The town was advised to work with the National Resources Conservation Service in Farmington for advice on the best plantings to use. The service has suggested the use of more trees such as cherry, willow and dogwood.

Once planted, the town also needs to monitor the trees’ progress and plan for adequate watering to ensure their survival. 

A review of the new plantings and the progress of the 2013 plantings will take place in August 2015, Donovan reported.

The stabilization work followed two years of planning and permitting to cope with erosion of the riverbank caused by Hurricane Irene in August 2011. The erosion threatened the stability of a portion of Whittier Road.

abryant@sunjournal.com

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