Watershed Residents Rode the Rails with AWSMP and Rail Explorers

Posted on: September 13th, 2019 by Brent Gotsch
One of the many happy families participating the "Sunset Rail Pedal along the Esopus" program. Photo by Chet Karwatowski

One of the many happy fam­i­lies par­tic­i­pat­ing in the “Sun­set Rail Pedal along the Eso­pus” pro­gram. Photo by Chet Karwatowski

 

Ashokan Water­shed res­i­dents had the oppor­tu­nity to expe­ri­ence the Eso­pus Creek like few oth­ers have before. On Thurs­day, Sep­tem­ber 12, par­tic­i­pants came out to the Rail Explor­ers Catskill Divi­sion in Phoeni­cia to have the unique expe­ri­ence of rid­ing a Rail Explor­ers rail car and also learn about the Eso­pus Creek. After some open­ing remarks from AWSMP and a safety talk from Rail Explor­ers, par­tic­i­pants set out on the 8-mile round trip tour on rail­road tracks that mostly par­al­lel the Eso­pus Creek. Dur­ing a reg­u­lar Rail Explor­ers tour, par­tic­i­pants make only one stop to turn the cars around for the return jour­ney. AWSMP worked with Rail Explor­ers to find two addi­tional stops so edu­ca­tors could talk about stream man­age­ment topics.

Participants in the "Sunset Rail Pedal along the Esopus" listen to Aaron Bennett of the Ulster County Department of the Environment talk about flood mitigation actions occurring near the Route 28 Bridge (in background) in Mount Tremper. Photo by Chet Karwatowski

Par­tic­i­pants in the “Sun­set Rail Pedal along the Eso­pus” lis­ten to Aaron Ben­nett of the Ulster County Depart­ment of the Envi­ron­ment talk about flood mit­i­ga­tion actions occur­ring near the Route 28 Bridge (in back­ground) in Mount Trem­per. Photo by Chet Karwatowski

 

The first stop was roughly across the the Route 28 Bridge in Mount Trem­per where Aaron Ben­nett of the Ulster County Depart­ment of the Envi­ron­ment spoke about the flood mit­i­ga­tion activ­i­ties going on there. He explained about how the NYS Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion (NYSDOT) is work­ing with the the Town of Shan­daken to help make that area less sus­cep­ti­ble to flood­ing. NYSDOT is replac­ing the Mount Trem­per Bridge with a larger and wider span that will lower flood ele­va­tions in the area. To do this they are work­ing with the Town of Shan­daken and the NYC Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion (NYC DEP) to acquire prop­er­ties in that area so this project can be com­pleted. The bridge is expected to be replaced begin­ning next year and be com­pleted in 2021. The new bridge will be con­structed imme­di­ately down­stream of the old one so no detour will be nec­es­sary dur­ing construction.

Adam Doan of the Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District talks about stream assessment protocols during the "Sunset Rail Pedal along the Esopus" program.

Adam Doan of the Ulster County Soil and Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict talks about stream assess­ment dur­ing the “Sun­set Rail Pedal along the Eso­pus” program.

 

At the turn­around loca­tion, Adam Doan of the Ulster County Soil and Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict spoke about the stream assess­ment work that AWSMP does. He explained how AWSMP tech­ni­cians walk a stream and col­lect data and how that data is used to make man­age­ment rec­om­men­da­tions. He also talked about the Catskill Streams Buffer Ini­tia­tive (CSBI) pro­gram and how qual­i­fy­ing landown­ers can access free native ripar­ian plants to reveg­e­tate their stream­banks. Adam described stud­ies and restora­tion projects done in the Stony Clove Creek (a trib­u­tary to the Eso­pus Creek) to improve stream sta­bil­ity and water quality.

Adam Doan Presents along Esopus Creek

Adam Doan of the Ulster County Soil and Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict talks about ero­sion, road-stream cross­ings, and the washout of the rail tracks dur­ing Trop­i­cal Storm Irene dur­ing the “Rail Pedal Along the Eso­pus” program.

 

On the return leg of the trip, both Adam and Aaron talked about the washout of the train tracks that occurred near the Phoeni­cia Plaza on Route 28 and the process of ero­sion. They explained the impor­tance of good road-stream cross­ings and how AWSMP tech­ni­cians have assessed pub­lic cross­ings in the water­shed. They also men­tioned the impor­tance of wood in the flood­plain and the habi­tat and sta­bil­ity that it pro­vides to the stream.

Finally, at the end of the trip, par­tic­i­pants were invited to a short recep­tion at the nearby Empire State Rail­way Museum where each par­tic­i­pant received a reusable tote bag and addi­tional edu­ca­tional material.

This pro­gram was a part of Ashokan Water­shed Month which con­tin­ues through­out the month of Sep­tem­ber. Upcom­ing pro­grams include a “Water­shed Pad­dle” at Ken­neth Wil­son Camp­ground and a Book Sign­ing and Read­ing in Wood­stock. Please visit out Ashokan Water­shed Month web­page for addi­tional infor­ma­tion about this and other upcom­ing events.

Sunset over Esopus Creek

A sun­set over the Eso­pus dur­ing the “Sun­set Rail Pedal along the Eso­pus” program.

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