Conservationist and scientist Corrie Miller took over the post from Carol Treadwell on Oct. 11. Treadwell resigned in mid-August to move to Montana with her husband John Steitz.
“I am particularly excited about the growth potential of the organization and being part of growing it,” Miller said. “Years ago, I fell in love with the Adirondacks when I lived and worked here. Now I get to come back and put my professional experiences to work for the AuSable River and the human and wild communities that depend on it.”
Miller has a strong background in nonprofit management, most recently working in Vermont’s northern Green Mountains as part of the Staying Connected Initiative. The initiative focuses on protecting existing wildlife corridors and restoring lost connectivity in the northern forest from New York to Maine. It is run by The Nature Conservancy, state wildlife and transportation agencies and 11 other organizations. Miller’s role was to work as a liaison between planners, scientists and local towns.
Miller was a student intern with the Student Conservation Association based at Whitney Headquarters on Little Tupper Lake near the hamlet of Long Lake. While working for the SCA, she did trail work in the summer and taught environmental education at Bloomingdale Elementary School in the winter.
Miller takes over the association during a challenging period because the AuSable River experienced severe flooding in late-August as a result of Tropical Storm Irene. In recent months, there have been many questions about how to best manage the river in the future in order to protect the people who live near it while retaining the river’s natural character.
To ensure a smooth transition from one director to another, the association has contracted Treadwell to work another six months.
“Corrie brings tremendous skill and energy to ASRA,” Treadwell said “I’m thrilled to see the board able to move swiftly to make this transition effective. I’m expecting great things for the AuSable River and the Association in the coming years.”
Miller received her Bachelor of Science degree from Vanderbilt University, and completed a post-baccalaureate certificate at University of Minnesota before obtaining a Master of Science degree from the University of Vermont. After graduating, she served as associate director of Smokey House Center in Danby, Vt.
River restoration work
One of Treadwell’s last projects for the river association was helping to develop a plan for the shoreline on Larry Master’s property in Lake Placid. Master lives on the West Branch of the AuSable River. A stretch of Master’s shoreline has been eroding at an unnaturally fast pace for years because the area lacked enough natural vegetation to hold it back. It had apparently been removed by a prior owner.
As a result, the riverbank eroded into the water, depositing silt there.
To restore the shoreline back to its more natural state, Master hired some contractors to create a two-tiered shoreline. The bottom section or “bench,” which is relatively flat, is closer to the river and held in place by boulders, tree limbs and stones. Sod will be placed on top of that.
The next tier was several feet back and at a higher level, helping create a natural flood plain.
Workers also plan to put vanes out into the river, which can be made out of a line of stones or fallen trees, cutting out into the river. The idea behind the vane is to create an obstacle that will divert the river’s energy back into the main channel and away from shoreline. This reduces shoreline erosion.
Both Trout Unlimited and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offered advice on this project.
Treadwell said the project is a good example of the proper way to restore a shoreline, a topic that has been in the public eye since the flooding from Irene.
“We thought it would be a good time to highlight (the project) in light of the natural disaster,” she said.
Mike Lynch/Lake Placid News
The AuSable River Association's new executive director Corrie Miller, left, stands with former director Carol Treadwell on the West Branch of the AuSable River in mid-October. The site is part of a shoreline restoration project at Larry Master's house.