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Research at Finger Lakes National Forest Aims to Restore Riparian Corridors and an Iconic Tree

Hector, NY, May 11, 2015 - Research by the U.S. Forest Service at the Finger Lakes National Forest (FLNF) is exploring whether native trees can restore a degraded stream corridor and whether degraded stream corridors can help one of those native trees – the American elm – stage a comeback.

“Forest Service research is a vital part of keeping our rural and urban forests healthy, sustainable and more resilient to disturbances now and for future generations,” said Michael T. Rains, Director of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station and the Forest Products Laboratory.

Creek and stream corridors on the 16,259-acre Forest within Grasslands for Grazing Management Areas were recently fenced and treated for non-native invasive plants such as multiflora rose and buckthorn. Beginning on May 11, scientists and FLNF officials will plant different combinations of tree and shrub species in four riparian areas and monitor the success of these different treatments for improving carbon and nitrogen ratios in the soil as well as plant, insect and wildlife biodiversity.

Another purpose of the research is to evaluate whether degraded stream corridors are suitable habitats for reintroduction of a forest icon, the American elm. Northern Research Station scientists in Delaware, Ohio, have developed and tested Dutch elm disease-tolerant American elm in urban areas; this study will explore whether the tree can survive in degraded habitat and contribute to restoration.

“Research on National Forests yields results that can benefit woodland owners throughout the region,” said District Ranger Jodie L. Vanselow. “We are excited to work with the Northern Research Station on a project that we anticipate will enhance water quality on the Forest and perhaps demonstrate a method of restoration that applies to all forest owners, public and private.”

The American elm has been decimated in forests and cities in the eight decades since Dutch Elm Disease was introduced to the United States. Northern Research Station scientists have developed American elm tree strains with high levels of tolerance to Dutch elm disease and are exploring the trees’ hardiness and ability to withstand cold in both urban and forest landscapes.

The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a mission of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The mission of the Forest Service's Northern Research Station is to improve people’s lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.

The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit


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Last modified: May 11, 2015