Around the Watershed: News and Events

Smart Rocks Deployed!

Posted on: October 13th, 2017 by Leslie_Zucker

The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram and the NYC Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion are work­ing with the U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey to study the rate at which larger rocks and cob­ble move down stream chan­nels. Fine sus­pended sed­i­ments travel with stream flows and pose the great­est threat to water qual­ity in the upper Eso­pus Creek. But larger mate­r­ial rest­ing on the chan­nel bed is also sus­pended dur­ing stream flows and then rede­posited down­stream. Streams in equi­lib­rium with their sur­round­ing land­scape accom­plish sed­i­ment trans­port in an orderly fash­ion. Rocks and cob­ble on the stream bed are lifted from their loca­tions in rif­fles and rede­posited down­stream in another shal­low area where rif­fles form. It’s when the chan­nel is dis­turbed or thrown out of bal­ance that the process can go awry. Large sed­i­ment accu­mu­la­tions in the cen­ter of the chan­nel, like those deposited dur­ing Trop­i­cal Storm Irene for exam­ple, can split stream flows and push water against the banks. The banks may con­tain fine sed­i­ments that cloud drink­ing water or gen­er­ate more coarse mate­r­ial that blocks bridges down­stream. For this rea­son stream man­agers would like to know more about the coarse sed­i­ment — when and where it moves, to bet­ter main­tain stream chan­nel stability.

The large sed­i­ment, rocks and cob­ble, trav­el­ing down the chan­nel bed is called “bed load.“
The AWSMP is part­ner­ing with the USGS to test dif­fer­ent tech­niques for mon­i­tor­ing the amount and rate of bed­load move­ment. Bed load mon­i­tor­ing is dif­fi­cult, time inten­sive and expense to pull off. Sev­eral tech­niques being piloted are meant to save time and make the effort more manageable.

The USGS has installed hydrophones at two bridges in the water­shed. The hydrophones are trig­gered when flows rise and record the sounds rocks make hit­ting against each other as tur­bu­lent water car­ries them down­stream. USGS sci­en­tists will parse the data and check it against phys­i­cal sam­ples taken at the bridges at the same time to see if a sound sig­na­ture can be used to quan­tify the sed­i­ment being transported.

RFID Tag on Smart Rock

An RFID-tag was drilled and glued into this rock pulled from the stream chan­nel to allow for radio-tracking later.

A sec­ond approach is to embed RFID (radio-frequency iden­ti­fi­ca­tion device) tags into native rock mate­r­ial and then find these rocks later using a hand-held antenna dur­ing sweeps of the chan­nel after bed-load mov­ing storm events. Another “smart” way to track rocks is to put an accelerom­e­ter into pre-manufactured rocks along with the RFID tags to gather the rate at which rocks move.

Finally, USGS staff will deploy staff to cap­ture sed­i­ment as it flows under the bridges. The bed­load sam­plers are low­ered from the bridge to the chan­nel bed and fill with sed­i­ment that is dumped into buck­ets and later sorted and mea­sured. Sam­pling con­tin­ues as long as prac­ti­cal until stream flows recede!

Bed Load Sampler

USGS sci­en­tist Jason Siemion low­ers the bed load sam­pler from a bridge.

The entire effort depends on hav­ing stream flows strong enough to move most of the sed­i­ment lying on the chan­nel bed. Sur­pris­ingly, almost the entire stream bed moves dur­ing flow events that occur as fre­quently as every sev­eral years on aver­age. And at least some of the bed load moves dur­ing smaller events. The project team is hop­ing for just enough rain to cause bed-load move­ment but not enough to cause any damage!

The study will run through 2019 with results to follow.

AWSMP Tries Out the W.A.V.E.

Posted on: September 29th, 2017 by Samantha Kahl

The impor­tance of water qual­ity has always been a top pri­or­ity for water­shed res­i­dents and the stream man­age­ment pro­gram as it works with com­mu­ni­ties to man­age streams. So how do we mea­sure the effects of stream man­age­ment on water qual­ity? One method is macroin­ver­te­brate sam­pling. Macroin­ver­te­brates are insects present within our streams that are vis­i­ble to the naked eye: Stone­flies, Mayflies, and Cad­dis­flies, just to name a few!

Recently, AWSMP staff mem­bers Saman­tha Kahl with Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County, and Alli­son Lent, Stream Assess­ment Coor­di­na­tor, and Tiffany Runge, Water­shed Tech­ni­cian with Ulster County Soil and Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict (SWCD) got out­side to mon­i­tor aquatic insects and do the WAVE! Actu­ally, it’s W.A.V.E. — Water Assess­ments by Vol­un­teer Eval­u­a­tors. This pro­gram is run by the New York State Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion (DEC). Vol­un­teers are trained to take macroin­ver­te­brate sam­ples from streams for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion at the DEC office. This prac­tice helps deter­mine stream seg­ments that are poten­tially impaired (e.g. pol­luted or dis­turbed). Macroin­ver­te­brates are sen­si­tive to water qual­ity, so if pollution-tolerant species are present and oth­ers are not, we may have an impaired stream seg­ment that needs fur­ther mon­i­tor­ing. If a vari­ety of sen­si­tive species are abun­dant, it’s usu­ally a good indi­ca­tor for high water quality.

Case-making Caddisfly larva found attached to a rock in a segment of Woodland Creek.

Case-making Cad­dis­fly larva found attached to a rock in a seg­ment of Wood­land Val­ley Creek.

Our pur­pose of going into the field was to get a sense of the water qual­ity at a poten­tial Wood­land Val­ley Creek restora­tion site. Know­ing the water con­di­tions prior to restora­tion pro­vides a bet­ter sense of how restora­tion efforts affect the stream, allow­ing project man­agers to mit­i­gate future restora­tion projects if need be. Our pur­pose also included test­ing out W.A.V.E. pro­gram sam­pling meth­ods. The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram is inter­ested in start­ing a W.A.V.E. pro­gram for local com­mu­ni­ties to take part in. Feel free to fill out this short sur­vey regard­ing your avail­abil­ity for a poten­tial W.A.V.E. pro­gram start-up; any feed­back is appre­ci­ated! And don’t for­get to check back soon for more event and vol­un­teer infor­ma­tion at our web­site.

Tiffany Runge, Watershed Technician (left), and Allison Lent, Stream Assessment Coordinator (right), of the Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District sorting through leaf litter for macroinvertebrate sampling on the banks of Woodland Creek.

Ulster County SWCD’s Tiffany Runge (left) and Alli­son Lent (right) sort through leaf lit­ter look­ing for macroin­ver­te­brates on the banks of Wood­land Val­ley Creek.

Stream Management Funding Available

Posted on: September 18th, 2017 by Leslie_Zucker

The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram is accept­ing appli­ca­tions for stream man­age­ment projects in the Ashokan watershed. 

Fund­ing pri­or­i­ties include projects to:
– Improve water qual­ity and enhance stream sta­bil­ity;
– Pro­tect or improve stream infra­struc­ture;
– Enhance stream access and recre­ation;
– Plan and imple­ment flood haz­ard mit­i­ga­tion; and
– Increase pub­lic knowl­edge and skills for stream stewardship.

Research and mon­i­tor­ing projects will be funded through a sep­a­rate request for pro­pos­als in Novem­ber 2017.

Eli­gi­ble appli­cants include local, county, state or fed­eral gov­ern­ment agen­cies; 501©3 orga­ni­za­tions; and sec­ondary school dis­tricts, col­leges, or uni­ver­si­ties. For-profit activ­i­ties are not eli­gi­ble for fund­ing at this time.

Appli­ca­tions must be sub­mit­ted to the pro­gram office by 4:30pm, Fri­day, Octo­ber 13, 2017. For appli­ca­tion mate­ri­als, visit the web­site

Fund­ing for the Stream Man­age­ment Imple­men­ta­tion Pro­gram is pro­vided by the NYC Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion and admin­is­tered by Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County.  

For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact AWSMP at (845) 688‑3047.

Mink Hollow Stream Restoration Projects Near Completion

Posted on: September 15th, 2017 by Leslie_Zucker

Two stream restora­tion projects treat­ing over 2,000 feet of erod­ing stream chan­nel and two large hill­slopes are near­ing com­ple­tion in the Mink Hol­low sec­tion of the Beaver Kill stream in the Town of Wood­stock. The projects should end in early Sep­tem­ber. See pho­tos of the projects below.

The two adja­cent projects are over­seen by the Ulster County Soil and Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict (SWCD). Ever­green Moun­tain Con­tract­ing, Inc. is con­struct­ing the projects with site inspec­tion pro­vided by Milone & MacB­room, Inc. (MMI), both are under con­tract with SWCD. The projects are funded by the NYC Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Protection.

Work­ing under per­mits issued by the NYSDEC, US Army Corps of Engi­neers, and the NYC DEP, water is diverted around the project sites so that sed­i­ment is not released down­stream dur­ing construction.


Stream flows are pumped into a pipe located upstream of con­struc­tion and diverted around the project sites. The water is released back into the Beaver Kill below the sites.

Re-Graded Hillslope

One of two erod­ing hill­slopes was regraded and a y-shaped sur­face drain installed. The slope has been seeded with a native plant mix. The green color is the mulch applied to the seeded area.

Bank Excavation

Con­struc­tion con­trac­tor Ever­green Moun­tain Con­tract­ing, Inc. exca­vated a bank to install a log rock revet­ment. About 24 loads of soil were removed to a nearby quarry dur­ing the morn­ing we visited.

The log rock revet­ment will pro­tect the stream­bank from ero­sion until roots from replanted native veg­e­ta­tion grow and add addi­tional resistance.


Site Managers

Here Adam Doan, Project Man­ager for the Ulster County SWCD and Christo­pher Barto, Civil Engi­neer with MMI review the project design plans on-site.

Ash Tree Species Face Extinction

Posted on: September 15th, 2017 by Leslie_Zucker

North America’s most wide­spread and valu­able ash tree species are on the brink of extinc­tion due to the inva­sive bee­tle Emer­ald Ash Borer dec­i­mat­ing their pop­u­la­tions. Five of the six most promi­nent ash tree species in North Amer­ica were added to the IUCN Red List as Crit­i­cally Endan­gered – only one step from going extinct – with the sixth species assessed as Endan­gered. One of the species, the once-plentiful White Ash (Frax­i­nus amer­i­cana) is a canopy species found in flood­plain forests of the Ashokan water­shed. Another species on the list – Green Ash (Frax­i­nus penn­syl­van­ica) is also found in the watershed’s Hemlock-Northern Hard­wood forests accord­ing to a 2012 sur­vey by the NY Nat­ural Her­itage Program.

The AWSMP can help stream­side landown­ers with select­ing native species to replace dead or dying ash trees in stream­side areas. Call the Catskill Streams Buffer Ini­tia­tive at (845) 688‑3047 x6 for advise and assistance.

For more infor­ma­tion on the biol­ogy of the Emer­ald Ash Borer and local efforts to pro­tect impor­tant ash stands, see this video pre­sen­ta­tion at the Ashokan Water­shed Con­fer­ence or these help­ful online resources:

Check the New York State Inva­sive Species EAB page at:

Some of the most help­ful guides include:


Hurricane and Flood Preparedness

Posted on: September 7th, 2017 by Brent Gotsch

Hur­ri­cane Irma is likely to be one of the most pow­er­ful storms ever recorded and is cur­rently on track to make land­fall in the state of Florida this week­end. At this point it is unclear whether this storm will con­tinue on with the same strength or inten­sity and make its way to the North­east. Now is a good time to make prepa­ra­tions in case the storm does reach our water­shed. A good first step to pre­pare for poten­tial flood­ing is review AWSMP’s Flood Pre­pared­ness Guide and guides from emer­gency man­age­ment agen­cies like FEMA.

It may also be use­ful to know if you are in a mapped flood haz­ard zone. You can do this by view­ing paper Flood Insur­ance Rate Maps at your local Town Hall (also avail­able for down­load from the FEMA Map Ser­vice Cen­ter) or by view­ing an inter­ac­tive ver­sion on the National Flood Haz­ard Layer or the Ulster County Par­cel Viewer. Now would also be a good time to stock up extra sup­plies of food, water, and med­i­cine in case there are dis­rup­tions in deliv­ery of such items. In addi­tion, the NY Exten­sion Dis­as­ter Edu­ca­tion Net­work (NY EDEN) has exten­sive infor­ma­tion on how to pre­pare for flood­ing, hur­ri­canes and other emer­gen­cies. By being informed and pre­pared we can all be more resilient in the face of nat­ural disasters.

Shandaken Day 2017!

Posted on: September 5th, 2017 by Samantha Kahl

Come one, come all! August 19th’s Shan­daken Day was a sight to be seen. With ven­dors sell­ing items from clothes to food, the local com­mu­nity was proud to be cel­e­brat­ing the Town of Shan­daken. The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram (AWSMP) was also there, excited to sup­port the Town by pre­sent­ing our flood­plain model and pro­vid­ing lit­er­a­ture about the Ashokan Water­shed. Resource Edu­ca­tor, Brent Gotsch, and I enjoyed a suc­cess­ful day engag­ing both the local com­mu­nity and vis­i­tors regard­ing wet­land impor­tance, impacts of imper­vi­ous sur­faces, such as park­ing lots, and flood­plain man­age­ment. Brent and I were happy to answer all ques­tions and enjoyed a few dis­cus­sions with fes­ti­val goers regard­ing our pro­gram. We also dab­bled in the booths of local ven­dors while watch­ing Human Foos­ball and lis­ten­ing to live, local bands play their music. Despite it being a work day, we had fun at Shan­daken Day, and we hope you did too! And if you didn’t get a chance to par­take in Shan­daken Day, don’t fret! The AWSMP team will be back at Olive Day on Sat­ur­day, Sep­tem­ber 9th, with our Stream Table in tow. We hope to see you there!

AWSMP Watershed Educator, Samantha Kahl, educating a local community member regarding human impacts on stream systems at Shandaken Day 2017. Photo Credit: Brent Gotsch

AWSMP Water­shed Edu­ca­tor, Saman­tha Kahl, edu­cat­ing a local com­mu­nity mem­ber regard­ing human impacts on stream sys­tems at Shan­daken Day 2017. Photo Credit: Brent Gotsch

Invasive Mile-A-Minute Found in Watershed

Posted on: August 30th, 2017 by Leslie_Zucker

Mile-A-Minute, an inva­sive weed from Asia, has been known to threaten stream­side forests. This vine is a vig­or­ous grower with barbed stems that smoth­ers other plants and can kill mature trees and shrubs. Until last week it was on the watch list for our area. Two pop­u­la­tions have been found in the Town of Wood­stock. The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram will be attend­ing a Catskill Regional Inva­sive Species Part­ner­ship (CRISP) meet­ing on Mile-A-Minute next Tues­day to offer resources and help strate­gize get­ting the word out to the com­mu­nity on iden­ti­fy­ing the plant and address­ing doc­u­mented infes­ta­tions. If you rec­og­nize this plant and think you may have it on your prop­erty, please con­tact the CRISP office in Mar­garetville (845) 586‑2611, or call the stream pro­gram office (845) 688‑3047 x6 and speak with our Stream Buffer Coor­di­na­tor. Early detec­tion of inva­sive species is very impor­tant for man­ag­ing prob­lem plants in ripar­ian areas.

Mile-A-Minute weed (Persicaria perfoliate). Photo courtesy of Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership.

Mile-A-Minute weed (Per­si­caria per­fo­li­ate). Photo cour­tesy of Catskill Regional Inva­sive Species Partnership.

Fish Surveys Reveal Life Beneath the Surface

Posted on: August 22nd, 2017 by Samantha Kahl

Have you ever won­dered about what lives in the Eso­pus Creek? This sum­mer, Barry Baldigo of the United States Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey (USGS), and his team of sci­en­tists went elec­trofish­ing in the upper Eso­pus Creek to mea­sure the impact of water­shed con­di­tions on fish species pop­u­la­tions. Elec­trofish­ing is a method of catch­ing fish by deliv­er­ing an elec­tric cur­rent to the water, direct­ing fish into a net, with­out harm. In con­junc­tion with the New York City Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion (NYC DEP) and the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram (AWSMP), Barry’s team catches, mea­sures, and weighs var­i­ous species of fish for data col­lec­tion, before return­ing the fish back to the creek alive and well. Since I met up with the USGS team back in July, they have since com­pleted their elec­trofish­ing of six dif­fer­ent sites within the water­shed, includ­ing Fox Hol­low Creek, Eso­pus Creek in Oliv­erea, Eso­pus Creek at Big Indian, Eso­pus Creek at Allaben, Birch Creek, and Wood­land Val­ley Creek. The results of the study will be writ­ten into a sci­en­tific arti­cle in the near future, but until then, the results from past sur­veys can be found here: Thank you to Barry Baldigo and his USGS team, the NYC DEP, and AWSMP for allow­ing me to take your pic­tures and answer­ing all of my questions.


Left to Right: Scott George (back­pack & anode pole), Mike Demoulpied, Luis Rodriguez, Don Kent, Nick McCloskey, Ed Ostapczuk, & Barry Baldigo elec­trofish­ing the Eso­pus Creek, Allaben, NY, 2017. Photo by S.Kahl


Walt Keller (Fish­eries Biol­o­gist, CCE Ulster) and Noel Deyette (Tech­ni­cian, USGS) mea­sur­ing fish & record­ing the data, 2017. Photo by S.Kahl


Smart Phone App Available for NY Outdoor Enthusiasts

Posted on: July 18th, 2017 by Leslie_Zucker

The NYS Dept. of Envi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion (DEC), in part­ner­ship with Parks­By­Na­ture Net­work®, has launched the New York Fish­ing, Hunt­ing & Wildlife App for iPhone and Android. The app pro­vides up-to-date infor­ma­tion on fish­ing, hunt­ing and wildlife watch­ing on today’s lead­ing mobile devices. Using the app’s advanced GPS fea­tures, users can iden­tify and locate New York’s many hunt­ing, fish­ing and wildlife watch­ing sites. You can also gain imme­di­ate access to species pro­files, rules and reg­u­la­tions, and impor­tant per­mits and licens­ing details.