A small section of the Norwalk River will provide a more hospitable home for wildlife thanks to the efforts of a local volunteer group. On Saturday, July 17, a dozen members of the Mianus Chapter of Trout Unlimited completed a river restoration project at the Schenck's Island open space in Wilton.

The volunteers installed a structure called a conifer revetment, designed to stabilize the stream bank, prevent erosion, remove sediment and silt from the river and provide habitat for juvenile trout and other aquatic life. Members also planted native willow cuttings along the river to further help strengthen the bank.

Volunteers on the project included Darien residents Gerry Gibney and Michael Gault.

In a conifer revetment, pine trees are anchored to the river bed along the bank. Each time the river floods, the elevated water washes sediment such as road sand and eroded soil over the exposed pine tree limbs where it is captured and slowly builds up an artificial bank. Over time, the river channel is narrowed, providing deeper, faster water which can more effectively remove sediment build-up on its own and provides improved habitat for aquatic insects, trout and other fish as well as the birds, mink, otters and other wildlife which prey upon them.

"We all benefit from a cleaner, healthier Norwalk River," Jeff Yates, chair of the chapter's restoration committee, said. "The impacts of these restoration projects go far beyond the banks of the stream itself, improving the ecological health and diversity of the inland towns along the river's headwaters as well as the coastal communities along Long Island Sound, into which the river flows."

The chapter will be conducting further projects on the Norwalk River over the summer, with volunteers needed and welcomed.

On Saturday, Aug. 21, from 9 a.m. to noon, the chapter will be installing a conifer revetment, removing invasive plants and planting native vegetation along the river off of School Road.

Information on volunteer opportunities as well as directions to the project sites is available online at www.mianustu.org under "Upcoming Events," or by e-mailing Yates at jyates@mianustu.org.