The Town of Lansing and Tompkins County are currently working together on a project to reconfigure a portion of Salmon Creek that is posing erosion hazards in the area of Salmon Creek and Lockerby Hill Roads.
An application for the project involving the reconfiguration of a portion of Salmon Creek has been submitted to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Region 7 Office. The application was submitted by the Town of Lansing Highway Department, in coordination with the Tompkins County Soil and Water Conservation District, in hopes of being granted three permits: Excavation & Fill in Navigable Waters (Article 15 Title 5), Stream Disturbance (Article 15 Title 5) and Clean Water Act Water Quality Certification (Section 401). The construction would take place near 660 Salmon Creek Road, upstream of Lockerby Hill Road.
Jon Negley, District Manager at the Soil and Water Conservation District, said the streets in that area are eroding because of the flow of that particular portion of the creek, which could potentially affect the area’s public infrastructure and farm property.
“As you share a road bed with a stream valley you’re going to have impacts to the road system,” Negley said. “The road was historically built because it was a nice broad, flat area to build a road, and…the stream itself naturally changes over time and will meander through the valley here. The Salmon Creek valley that we’re working in is what we call a ‘v-stream-type.’ Basically, it has a lot of meander to it. It’s able to cut channels through its floodplain and it’ll let out over that floodplain. So it’s going to impact anything that’s within that flood zone.”
According to the application, the project proposes to “move 4,920 cubic yards of material within Salmon Creek to move the stream 28 feet north at first bend and 28 feet south for second bend, to move the stream away from farm land and Salmon Creek Road.” In addition, there is a plan for “190 cubic yards of additional fill to create a bankfull bench on each side of stream, the stream channel to be recreated and include engineered rock riffles, and install 2,097 tons of riprap along the front of each bankfull bench.”
“The stream will be moved over to get it away from the severely eroding banks,” Angel Hinickle, one of the project managers, said. “The appropriate size channel will be put in, and then what we call a ‘bench.’ What that does is it allows the water to get up and out of the channel to slow down and slowly spread out. That bench is seeded, and it’s planted with shrubs and native plants to hold everything together…In that process, you also restore the natural features that are in a stream—your riffles, your runs, your pools and your glides.”
Negley said this is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately.
“If we didn’t address this at all, usually what would happen with the road bed is you’ll start to see the shoulders wear away, and you’ll start to see the road bed bumping into the creek,” Negley said.
This is not the first time the county has performed construction on the creek. In 2008 some alterations were made to the creek in northern Lansing near Ludlowville by the county’s planning department in conjunction with the soil and water district after it was discovered that certain land uses, such as agricultural practices, were eroding the bank and changing the landscape of the creek.
Negly said the conservation district has received state funding for the project from the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets as well as the Finger Lakes-Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance.
“Their goals are mostly for water quality improvement,” Negly said of the Finger Lakes-Lake Ontario Watershed Protection Alliance. “As stream banks erode, we look at them as sediment contributors to the stream, to the lake.” He said if they are able to “stop some of that wherever we can, or slow it down, then that just improves water quality for fish habitat and users of the lake.”
If the permits are granted, Negley said both departments will have until the end of September to complete the work.
“Our permit would end Sept. 30,” he said. “We may be able to get possibly a two-week extension if we get into construction and we need some extensions. There is a work window that’s set by the DEC for us to be in there up until Sept. 30.”