Native plant nursery coming to Lake Placid

The Ausable River Association is establishing a local native plant nursery in Lake Placid. The Ausable Conservation Nursery at Uihlein Farm will take shape in 2024 and 2025, thanks to a major grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program.

If you’ve ever watched one of our stream restoration projects on the East or West Branch Ausable Rivers, perhaps you’ve wondered where we get all the small willows, dogwoods, maples, and other native species that are carefully planted to rebuild the riparian buffer? We’ve used suppliers in Vermont and as far away as Michigan, but over the past few years, for a variety of reasons, native plant supplies have dwindled. We’ve dreamed for years of starting our own nursery, and this supply shortage has made us even more determined.

For 13 years, we’ve successfully restored damaged streams with the goal of rebuilding stream health in and near stream habitat — effectively reducing flood impacts and making communities flood and climate-resilient. When our team rebuilds a stream channel or replaces an undersized culvert with a climate-ready culvert, replanting native vegetation — grasses, shrubs, and trees — is an essential step in the restoration of a site. As our stream restoration work expanded, we quickly realized, through trial and error, the importance of using hardy, hyperlocal riparian species that could survive Adirondack winters. Even prior to the pandemic, native plant stocks were limited. In some cases, though plants were native regionally, they were not necessarily hardy in our area. As a response, we chose to pursue two complementary goals. First, identify core riparian species native to the Ausable and our neighboring watersheds. Second, identify sources of these species and, if need be, propagate them.

Thanks to funds from the Lake Champlain Basin Program and other public and private donors, over the past three years, we’ve identified the native species essential to restoration efforts, stream health, and biodiversity in our region. Thanks to the Uihlein Foundation and a network of landowner relationships that give us access to existing, hardy hyperlocal plants, we’ve established a small plot of core woody shrub species at the Uihlein Farm.