Around the Watershed: News and Events

December Flooding in Ashokan Watershed and Resource for Homeowners

Posted on: January 11th, 2021 by Brent Gotsch
Flood­ing at McK­en­ley Hol­low Bridge 12-25-2020. Pho­to by A. Bennett.

Res­i­dents of the Ashokan Water­shed unwrapped a present they prob­a­bly didn’t want this past Christ­mas in the form of sig­nif­i­cant flood­ing on many of our streams. Most of the Unit­ed States Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey (USGS) stream gages report­ed that most of the flood­ing would be con­sid­ered a 10-Year Flood, which has a 10% chance of occur­ring in any giv­en year. While not as large or destruc­tive as the floods result­ing from Trop­i­cal Storm Irene in August of 2011, there still was sig­nif­i­cant dam­age to local infra­struc­ture and ero­sion along our stream channels.

Over the past year there are many new res­i­dents now liv­ing full-time in the Water­shed who may not be aware of the flood­ing issues that peri­od­i­cal­ly occur in our val­leys, up our hol­lows, and along our streams. This post is meant to pro­vide some basic infor­ma­tion for res­i­dents on how to iden­ti­fy flood risk for their home, what to do if there are dam­ages to prop­er­ty, and who to con­tact for addi­tion­al information.

Most of the major streams in the water­shed have been mapped for flood risk by the Fed­er­al Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency through the Nation­al Flood Insur­ance Pro­gram (NFIP). To view your flood risk and deter­mine if your prop­er­ty is locat­ed with­in the 100-Year Flood­plain (which sta­tis­ti­cal­ly speak­ing has a 1% chance of occur­ring in any giv­en year) you can vis­it the FEMA Map Ser­vice Cen­ter, input your address and look at the shad­ing. If you see a turquoise col­or that means you are locat­ed in the 100-Year Flood­plain. You can also access the same infor­ma­tion by vis­it­ing the Nation­al Flood Haz­ard Lay­er, which may be a bit more user friend­ly. Please keep in mind that flood­plain map­ping is meant for flood insur­ance rat­ing pur­pos­es only. Just because your prop­er­ty is locat­ed out­side the 100 or 500-Year Flood­plains (the 500-Year Flood­plain is rep­re­sent­ed by orange shad­ing) that does not mean you are guar­an­teed to not have a flood. Rough­ly 20% of all flood dam­ages occur out­side the 100-Year Flood zone. If you do not already have flood insur­ance for your struc­ture you should con­sid­er get­ting it. Vis­it Floodsmart.gov (the offi­cial site of the Nation­al Flood Insur­ance Pro­gram) or con­tact your insur­ance agent and inquire about flood insurance.

A vari­ety of dam­age can occur to a build­ing fol­low­ing a flood. It is vital that you sched­ule a vis­it with your municipality’s build­ing depart­ment to doc­u­ment the extent of the dam­age. If a struc­ture is sub­stan­tial­ly dam­aged (mean­ing that 51% or more of the structure’s fair mar­ket val­ue is dam­aged) then cer­tain pro­ce­dures need to be put into place and often the struc­ture will need to be ele­vat­ed (in the case of res­i­den­tial struc­tures) or flood­proofed (in the case of non-res­i­den­tial struc­tures). There may be some fund­ing avail­able to mit­i­gate flood­ing if the prop­er­ty has flood insur­ance. For more infor­ma­tion, please vis­it the NYS Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Conservation’s web­site on sub­stan­tial dam­age.

Very often dur­ing a flood, homes with base­ments have stand­ing water in them. Some­times this is a result of over­land flood­ing (flood­ing from rivers and streams) or infil­tra­tion from ground water. Regard­less of the source, the base­ment should have the water pumped out. Sump pumps can be used to do this or for a fee many local fire depart­ments will pump out base­ments. Do not enter a home with stand­ing water unless you know for cer­tain that the pow­er to the struc­ture has been cut.

If you own stream­side prop­er­ty where ero­sion occurred or where the stream chan­nel shift­ed or moved, you can con­tact the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram (AWSMP) at 845–688-3047. Leave a mes­sage and a tech­ni­cian from the Ulster Coun­ty Soil and Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict will get back to you and arrange a site vis­it to view your stream and to offer you advice on what can be done to help mit­i­gate future ero­sion. Keep in mind that because of the recent flood­ing our tech­ni­cians are very busy and restric­tions based on the ongo­ing Covid-19 pan­dem­ic may cause a delay.

Flood­ing and dam­age that result from flood­ing can be very stress­ful and expen­sive to fix. If you live with­in the Ashokan Water­shed and expe­ri­ence dam­age to your struc­ture dur­ing a flood, we also rec­om­mend you con­tact Aaron Ben­nett at the Ulster Coun­ty Depart­ment of Envi­ron­ment at 845–688-3047 ext. 109 or email aben@co.ulster.ny.us for fur­ther assis­tance. If you have ques­tions about how to mit­i­gate your home for floods be sure to read the FEMA Home­own­ers Guide to Retro­fitting.

If you have gen­er­al ques­tions about flood­ing, how to read a flood map or deter­mine if your prop­er­ty is locat­ed in a mapped flood­plain or if you may need flood insur­ance please con­tact Brent Gotsch of Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster Coun­ty at 845–688-3047 ex. 103 or bwg37@cornell.edu.

If you have gen­er­al ques­tions about streams and ero­sion you can con­tact Tim Koch of Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster Coun­ty at 845–688-3047 ext. 118 or tk545@cornell.edu.

Please be sure to vis­it the AWSMP web­site at www.ashokanstreams.org for addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion about flood­ing and stream management.

Flood­ing along Oliv­erea Road 12-25-2020. Pho­to by A. Bennett.

Best Wishes for the New Year from the AWSMP

Posted on: December 23rd, 2020 by Leslie_Zucker
Image of ice covered rock in small wooded stream

The staff of the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram wish the won­der­ful res­i­dents and vis­i­tors of the Ashokan Water­shed a bright and hap­py hol­i­day and new year.

It was a plea­sure to work on stream projects with munic­i­pal offi­cials, stream­side landown­ers, non­prof­it and agency part­ners, con­sul­tant firm staff, teach­ers and stu­dents, and pro­gram par­tic­i­pants over the past year.

We hope you have the chance to safe­ly enjoy being near a stream dur­ing this rest­ful win­ter season!

Image of two people snow shoeing on a trail near stream

Family Fun and Fish Day Returns September 18th

Posted on: September 7th, 2021 by Brent Gotsch
Join AWSMP for Fam­i­ly Fun and Fish Day on Sep­tem­ber 18th

Fish­ing with the fam­i­ly is a great way to con­nect with each oth­er and expe­ri­ence the great out­doors! After being on hia­tus last year due to the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic, we’re proud to say that we’re bring­ing this pop­u­lar and fam­i­ly-friend­ly event back this year, albeit in a small­er and more social­ly-dis­tanced way. The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram (AWSMP) in coop­er­a­tion with Trout Unlim­it­ed and the New York State Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion (DEC) is host­ing “Fam­i­ly Fun and Fish Day” at Ken­neth Wil­son State Camp­ground at 859 Wit­ten­berg Road, Mount Trem­per, NY on Sat­ur­day, Sep­tem­ber 18 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

DEC fish­eries staff and vol­un­teers with local Trout Unlim­it­ed chap­ters will intro­duce youth and oth­ers to the sport of fish­ing and pro­vide edu­ca­tion on fish iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and aquat­ic ecol­o­gy. Please let us know in advance if you have spe­cial needs relat­ed to the day’s activities.

Due to the ongo­ing pan­dem­ic we ask that all par­tic­i­pants not from the same house­hold main­tain at least six feet of dis­tance apart and to wear masks if this is not pos­si­ble. All forms must be filled out and received pri­or to the event. Par­tic­i­pants who fail to fill out the required forms, fail to adhere to Covid-19 safe­ty guide­lines, or fail to fol­low staff direc­tion will not be allowed to par­tic­i­pate in the program.

All fish­ing sup­plies will be pro­vid­ed, though you are wel­come and encour­aged to bring your own if you have them. No fish­ing license is required.

For the safe­ty of all of our pro­gram par­tic­i­pants we kind­ly ask that you leave your pets at home.

For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact Brent Gotsch at 845–688-3047 ext. 103, or by email at bwg37@cornell.edu. DEC charges a $6 fee per car for admis­sion to the camp­ground — all oth­er activ­i­ties at Fam­i­ly Fun and Fish Day are free.

Reg­is­ter by Sep­tem­ber 15, 2021 in order to participate.

Now Hiring for the AWSMP Office

Posted on: September 1st, 2021 by Leslie_Zucker

Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster Coun­ty is seek­ing an Admin­is­tra­tive Assis­tant II to work with the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram (AWSMP) to pro­vide gen­er­al admin­is­tra­tive sup­port and over­see main­te­nance of the stream pro­gram office in Shokan, NY. A set work sched­ule will be estab­lished for reg­u­lar days worked with some flex­i­bil­i­ty. Occa­sion­al evening, week­end, and out­door work is required. 

This is a part-time, 24 hours per week, non-exempt, ben­e­fits eli­gi­ble posi­tion. Com­pen­sa­tion paid at the rate of $20.00 per hour. 

For details and to apply:

https://cornell.wd1.myworkdayjobs.com/en-US/CCECareerPage/job/New-York-State-Other/AWSMP-Administrative-Assistant—Shokan–NY_WDR-00027624

Cornell Cooperative Extension is an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities. Individuals who bring a diverse perspective and are supportive of diversity are strongly encouraged to apply.

Tropical Depression Ida May Bring Flash Flooding to Watershed

Posted on: August 31st, 2021 by Brent Gotsch
Trop­i­cal Depres­sion Ida expect­ed rain­fall totals. From Nation­al Hur­ri­cane Center.

The rem­nants of Trop­i­cal Depres­sion Ida will be pass­ing close to our region Wednes­day into Thurs­day. The Nation­al Weath­er Ser­vice is pre­dict­ing that many loca­tions in the Tri-State area could receive 2–4 inch­es of rain. As a result, most of the region is under a flash flood advi­so­ry through Thurs­day after­noon. Although major flood­ing is not expect­ed for the Ashokan Water­shed it is still a good idea or be prepared.

Stay up-to-date on cur­rent weath­er infor­ma­tion by vis­it­ing NYS MESONET, a New York State spe­cif­ic weath­er fore­cast­ing site man­aged by the Nation­al Weath­er Ser­vice and the State Uni­ver­si­ty of New York at Albany. Check cur­rent stream flow con­di­tions by vis­it­ing the NYS Page of the USGS Stream Gage Net­work. Check the Nation­al Weath­er Ser­vice Riv­er Fore­cast web­page for area flood predictions. 

Always be pay atten­tion to direc­tives from local author­i­ties espe­cial­ly if they say to evac­u­ate. Be sure to check local Coun­ty and Town/Village web­pages and social media for updat­ed infor­ma­tion. Do not dri­ve through stand­ing water, espe­cial­ly in the evening or dur­ing low-light con­di­tions as it is often dif­fi­cult to deter­mine the depth of water on a road­way. The num­ber one cause of death from flood­ing is from peo­ple dri­ving through water that is too deep for their vehi­cles. FEMA has sev­er­al excel­lent resources for prepar­ing for many nat­ur­al dis­as­ters includ­ing flood­ing at its Ready.gov site. The New York Exten­sion Dis­as­ter Edu­ca­tion Net­work also has sev­er­al good resources available.

Esopus Creek News Summer Edition Just Released

Posted on: August 26th, 2021 by Leslie_Zucker
Three young people standing in a small stream conducting a science activity
Look­ing for ways to learn more about streams and the water­shed this sum­mer? Check out the lat­est edi­tion of the Eso­pus Creek News!

The sum­mer 2021 edi­tion of the Eso­pus Creek News is now avail­able online and a print ver­sion will be deliv­ered to water­shed res­i­dents this week. Water­shed res­i­dents can sign up to receive a mail­ing of the newslet­ter by sub­mit­ting their name and address to info@ashokanstreams.org.

The sum­mer 2021 edi­tion pro­vides an update on what res­i­dents and vis­i­tors to Sil­ver Hol­low near Chich­ester can expect as two stream restora­tion projects advance on Warn­er Creek. We also have an impor­tant update from our flood mit­i­ga­tion staff on changes to FEMA’s method­ol­o­gy for rat­ing NFIP flood insur­ance poli­cies. The Get to Know Streams fea­ture in this edi­tion focus­es on the top­ic of “Why Stream Banks Erode.” Plus, we have ways to go out­side (or even if you’re stuck inside) to learn more about the Ashokan Reser­voir water­shed with ideas for the entire fam­i­ly. Final­ly, get up to date on plans for Ashokan Water­shed Month from Sep­tem­ber to Octo­ber with three sep­a­rate events planned for landown­ers, fam­i­lies and youth, and munic­i­pal offi­cials. And more infor­ma­tion on stream and flood­plain man­age­ment from around the water­shed. Check out the Eso­pus Creek News sum­mer edi­tion now!

Tropical Storm Henri Brings Flooding to the Watershed

Posted on: August 23rd, 2021 by Leslie_Zucker

Res­i­dents of the Ashokan Water­shed should take cau­tion as minor flood­ing is occur­ring in the water­shed. The USGS gage on the Eso­pus Creek at Cold­brook has reached the ‘action stage’ at 9.33 feet as of 10:30 am on Mon­day, August 23. Flood stage is 11 feet. The Nation­al Weath­er Ser­vice will issue an updat­ed riv­er fore­cast at noon today. The USGS stream gages on the Beaver Kill at Mt. Trem­per and the Bushkill at West Shokan show the rivers have exceed­ed bank­full flows and are spilling onto their floodplains. 

Res­i­dents are advised to not dri­ve through stand­ing water as the road­way under­neath may be dam­aged. Trop­i­cal Storm Hen­ri is now cen­tered over Ulster Coun­ty and will affect the region with con­tin­ued rain­fall and the chance of river­ine flood­ing through­out the day. Please remain vigilant!

Tropical Storm Henri Approaches the NY Coast

Posted on: August 20th, 2021 by Leslie_Zucker

Atten­tion res­i­dents and vis­i­tors to the Catskills and Ashokan Reser­voir Watershed: 

The Nation­al Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter (NHC) is track­ing Trop­i­cal Storm Hen­ri as it approach­es the U.S. coast­line with pos­si­ble land­fall this Sun­day evening. Cur­rent­ly, Hen­ri is expect­ed to reach hur­ri­cane sta­tus before mak­ing land­fall near Long Island, NY. The pre­dict­ed storm track is cur­rent­ly east of the Catskills and Ashokan Reser­voir water­shed, but con­di­tions could change. Out­er bands of the storm could affect our region.

Track the storm path and mon­i­tor NOAA Nation­al Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter updates here: https://www.nhc.noaa.gov

Mon­i­tor the Nation­al Weath­er Ser­vice fore­cast for your area at: https://www.weather.gov

Streams and rivers are run­ning slight­ly above aver­age val­ues for this time of year and soils are some­what sat­u­rat­ed, mean­ing pre­cip­i­ta­tion from Hen­ri could rapid­ly raise water lev­els in local waterbodies.

Now is the time to pre­pare for the pos­si­bil­i­ty of intense weath­er, includ­ing rain­fall and flood­ing in our region. For more infor­ma­tion on how to pre­pare for a flood and what to do dur­ing one please vis­it the Ready.gov web­site on flood­ing: https://www.ready.gov/floods

The Catskills high peaks region in north­west Ulster Coun­ty receives more than 60 inch­es of rain each year on aver­age — some of the high­est totals in New York State. Steep moun­tain val­leys fun­nel water and increase the chances of river­ine flooding.

Stream Snorkeling Program is a Success

Posted on: July 26th, 2021 by Brent Gotsch
A par­tic­i­pant peers at the streambed of Birch Creek at an AWSMP Stream Snor­kel­ing event.

AWSMP recent­ly held a two suc­cess­ful fresh­wa­ter stream snor­kel­ing events (a third event was can­celled due to poor con­di­tions). This was the first time that our pop­u­lar stream snor­kel­ing pro­grams have been held since the begin­ning of the pan­dem­ic. On July 16, approx­i­mate­ly 9 indi­vid­u­als (most­ly youths) met at the Eso­pus Creek behind the Emer­son Resort and Spa in Mount Trem­per. There AWSMP staff pro­vid­ed instruc­tion on safe snor­kel­ing and then pro­ceed­ed to use the snorkel gear to peer beneath the waves where sev­er­al inter­est­ing crea­tures includ­ing cray­fish, stone­flies, and oth­er macroin­ver­te­brates were found. On July 19, AWSMP ven­tured to Smith Park in Pine Hill where chil­dren enrolled in pro­gram­ming with the Pine Hill Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter per­formed the same activ­i­ty in near­by Birch Creek. They found sim­i­lar stream crit­ters there includ­ing a large crane­fly larva. 

Stream snor­kel­ing pro­vides a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty for par­tic­i­pants to see what is going on in the streambed and to bet­ter under­stand stream ecosys­tems. “Our fresh­wa­ter snor­kel­ing pro­gram pro­vides an amaz­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty to teach par­tic­i­pants about the impor­tance of streams,” says Snor­kel­ing Pro­gram Leader and Water­shed Youth Edu­ca­tor Matt Savat­gy, “It allows them to ful­ly immerse them­selves in the stream and to get to see what’s going on below the sur­face of the water, which is some­thing that most of them nev­er real­ly get an oppor­tu­ni­ty to do.”

No addi­tion­al stream snor­kel­ing pro­grams are planned for this year. How­ev­er, AWSMP is plan­ning sev­er­al addi­tion­al events that may be of inter­est to youth and fam­i­lies. To learn about upcom­ing events please reg­u­lar­ly vis­it the AWSMP webpage.

Stream Snorkeling Returns this Summer!

Posted on: June 23rd, 2021 by Brent Gotsch
Join AWSMP for stream snor­kel­ing this sum­mer on Fri­day July 9 or July 16.

AWSMP is pleased to announce the return of one of its most pop­u­lar sum­mer activ­i­ties:  stream snor­kel­ing! Dis­cov­er the under­wa­ter world of streams by join­ing us for a fun filled morn­ing of stream snor­kel­ing in the Eso­pus Creek. This free pro­gram was cre­at­ed with fam­i­lies in mind. Par­tic­i­pants must be at least 8 years old and those under the age of 12 must be accom­pa­nied by an adult (the adult does not have to snorkel). This event will be held at the Emer­son Resort and Spa in Mount Trem­per, New York. All equip­ment and sup­plies will be pro­vid­ed. Please bring a tow­el and wear swim clothes and old sneak­ers or closed-toed water shoes (no bare feet please).

This pro­gram is designed for peo­ple that live in the Ashokan Water­shed. The Ashokan Water­shed includes the Towns of Hur­ley, Olive, Wood­stock, and Shan­dak­en in Ulster Coun­ty and the Towns of Lex­ing­ton and Hunter in Greene Coun­ty.

Space is lim­it­ed to 15 par­tic­i­pants so sign up now as this event may fill up quick­ly.

COVID-19 Safe­ty Pre­cau­tions will be fol­lowed, includ­ing wear­ing masks and social dis­tanc­ing where need­ed. Snor­kel­ing equip­ment will be thor­ough­ly dis­in­fect­ed pri­or to the event and after it is com­plet­ed.

Only those that are snor­kel­ing will need to reg­is­ter. If you are reg­is­ter­ing more than one per­son, you will have to reg­is­ter each one sep­a­rate­ly. Once you reg­is­ter you will get a let­ter in the mail with a release form that you will have to fill out and return to AWSMP.

There will be two sep­a­rate ses­sions, with one being held on Fri­day, July 9 and the oth­er being held on Fri­day, July 16. Please click the appro­pri­ate link below to sign up for the date that you wish to attend. Both events will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Fri­day July 9 Snor­kel­ing Event Registration

Fri­day July 16 Snor­kel­ing Event Reg­is­tra­tion

If you have any ques­tions please con­tact Brent Gotsch at bwg37@cornell.edu or call him at 845–688-3047 ext. 103. If the event becomes sold out please con­tact Brent and he will add you to a wait­ing list.

SMIP Grant Funding Available

Posted on: June 22nd, 2021 by Leslie_Zucker

The AWSMP is now accept­ing appli­ca­tions for Stream Man­age­ment Imple­men­ta­tion Pro­gram (SMIP) grant fund­ing. The dead­line for sub­mis­sion of appli­ca­tions is Wednes­day, June 30, 2021.

Eli­gi­ble appli­cants include local, coun­ty, state, or fed­er­al gov­ern­ment agen­cies, 501©(3) orga­ni­za­tions, sec­ondary school dis­tricts, col­leges or uni­ver­si­ties. For-prof­it firms or insti­tu­tions may sub­mit fund­ing appli­ca­tions in the Research, Assess­ment and Mon­i­tor­ing cat­e­go­ry only.

The AWSMP funds stream stew­ard­ship projects in the fol­low­ing cat­e­gories: Plan­ning; Edu­ca­tion; Research, Assess­ment and Mon­i­tor­ing (see pri­or­i­ty research needs); Stream-Relat­ed Pub­lic Infra­struc­ture Improve­ments (see project eli­gi­bil­i­ty guid­ance); Flood Haz­ard Mit­i­ga­tion; and Stream Restoration.

Fund­ing appli­ca­tions for projects rec­om­mend­ed in a Local Flood Analy­sis plan may be sub­mit­ted at any time. 

For more infor­ma­tion and how to apply, vis­it: https://ashokanstreams.org/projects-funding/

The AWSMP will announce the third and final fund­ing round of 2021 in September.

Join the Warner Creek Virtual Stream Walk

Posted on: June 21st, 2021 by Leslie_Zucker

Res­i­dents of the Warn­er Creek val­ley, Shan­dak­en town offi­cials, and any­one inter­est­ed in learn­ing more are invit­ed to attend a “vir­tu­al” Warn­er Creek Stream Walk held online Fri­day, June 25 from 2–4 p.m. To receive the webi­nar link, reg­is­ter at: tinyurl.com/WarnerCreekVirtualStreamWalk.

Dur­ing the Stream Walk we’ll learn more about the Warn­er Creek val­ley and changes in the stream chan­nel that led to pri­or­i­ti­za­tion of sev­er­al sites for restora­tion work this sum­mer. The Ulster Coun­ty Soil and Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict will dis­cuss how the stream sites are being restored and what to expect in the val­ley before, dur­ing, and after project construction.

The event will offer plen­ty of time for landown­er questions. 

To learn more, con­tact Tim Koch, Stream Edu­ca­tor at AWSMP by email tk545@cornell.edu or phone (845) 688‑3047.

Photo of stream program staff conducting field survey of Warner Creek
Staff of the Ulster Coun­ty Soil and Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict sur­vey an unsta­ble sec­tion of Warn­er Creek in 2019.