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

Join AWSMP for Praxis Conference on June 4

Posted on: May 12th, 2021 by Brent Gotsch
Roy Schiff, Prin­ci­pal Water Resources Engi­neer and Sci­en­tist with SLR.

Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster Coun­ty Stream Edu­ca­tor Tim Koch will team up with Roy Schiff of SLR Inter­na­tion­al (for­mer­ly Milone & Macb­room Inc) to present at the inau­gur­al Prax­is vir­tu­al con­fer­ence on June 4th. The Prax­is con­fer­ence focus­es on the prac­ti­cal appli­ca­tion of the­o­ry and research to improve com­mu­ni­ties. Tim and Roy, Prin­ci­pal Water Resources Engi­neer & Sci­en­tist with SLR, will present on a geo­mor­phic approach to cul­vert assess­ment and pri­or­i­ti­za­tion efforts in order to help com­mu­ni­ties mit­i­gate flood and ero­sion risks. Roy was involved with the research and devel­op­ment of a geo­mor­phic assess­ment tool. Tim has inte­grat­ed the tool into a Mul­ti-Objec­tive Stream Cross­ing Assess­ment Pro­to­col (MOSCAP) used to assess and pri­or­i­tize over 1,000 cul­verts and bridges through­out Ulster Coun­ty, New York. Their pre­sen­ta­tion and break-out ses­sion will focus on the research-based devel­op­ment of the tool, imple­men­ta­tion of the MOSCAP in Ulster Coun­ty, and infor­ma­tion on how peo­ple can imple­ment MOSCAP in their communities.

Tim Koch, Stream Edu­ca­tor with Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster Coun­ty and the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Program

Stream Explorers Youth Adventure 2021 Registration is Open

Posted on: April 27th, 2021 by Brent Gotsch

The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram (AWSMP) is excit­ed to announce that reg­is­tra­tion for the Stream Explor­ers 2021 Youth Adven­ture is now open! Stream Explor­ers is an excit­ing day-long sci­ence-based pro­gram for youth in grades 3 through 7 resid­ing in the Ashokan Reser­voir Water­shed (this includes the Towns of Hur­ley, Olive, Shan­dak­en and Wood­stock in Ulster Coun­ty and the Towns of Hunter and Lex­ing­ton in Greene Coun­ty). This year’s event will be held on Sat­ur­day, June 5 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Ashokan Cen­ter locat­ed at 477 Beaverkill Road in Olive­bridge, NY. Reg­is­ter online today at www.tinyurl.com/streamexplorers2021.

Stream Explor­ers is a fun-filled day full of stream-themed activ­i­ties. Par­tic­i­pants will use sci­ence mod­els to learn how streams work and to assess stream health. We will play water­shed-relat­ed games, learn how nature fil­ters water, and explore the Eso­pus Gorge. A hearty bag-lunch and morn­ing and after­noon snacks will be pro­vid­ed. Youth are encour­aged to be pre­pared for a vari­ety of weath­er con­di­tions so dress in lay­ers, bring an all-weath­er jack­et and wear closed-toed shoes. It is also encour­aged to bring a pair of water-proof muck boots. Bring sun­screen and insect repel­lant. Watch our video on a pre­vi­ous Stream Explor­ers Youth Adven­ture to see some of the activities.

We have sev­er­al mea­sures in place to keep par­tic­i­pants safe from Covid-19. We are lim­it­ing reg­is­tra­tion to the first 40 par­tic­i­pants. Youth will be fur­ther divid­ed into small­er groups of 10 and inter­ac­tion with oth­er groups will be lim­it­ed. It will be manda­to­ry for all par­tic­i­pants to wear a mask while indoors or with­in 6 feet of one anoth­er. If mate­ri­als are to be shared, par­tic­i­pants will be required to wear gloves (that will be pro­vid­ed) and com­mon sur­faces will be dis­in­fect­ed reg­u­lar­ly. Unlike in pre­vi­ous years we will not be eat­ing a buf­fet lunch in the din­ing hall. Bag lunch­es will be sub­sti­tut­ed and we will eat with our subgroups.

Space is lim­it­ed and we expect to fill up quick­ly so reg­is­ter as soon as pos­si­ble at www.tinyurl.com/streamexplorers2021. Any ques­tions relat­ed to the Stream Explor­ers Youth Adven­ture can be direct­ed to Matt Savat­gy at mjs593@cornell.edu or Brent Gotsch at bwg37@cornell.edu or call 845–688-3047 ext. 103. 

Esopus Creek News Now Available

Posted on: March 14th, 2021 by Leslie_Zucker

The win­ter edi­tion of the Eso­pus Creek News is now avail­able online and for the first time, is acces­si­ble for read­ers with a print impair­ment. The AWSMP worked with Stephanie Black­man Design in Chich­ester, NY to make our newslet­ter more acces­si­ble. If you expe­ri­ence any issues read­ing the newslet­ter, please let us know. We are work­ing to improve acces­si­bil­i­ty of our pub­li­ca­tions for all residents. 

This issue of the newslet­ter reports on the “Christ­mas Day” 2020 flood in the water­shed, flood­ing resources for home­own­ers, stream restora­tion plans, how to rec­og­nize a new inva­sive pest in the water­shed, recent town-led stream cul­vert improve­ment projects, and some infor­ma­tion on how streams han­dle a wide range of flows. We hope you enjoy this edi­tion of the Eso­pus Creek News newsletter!

Informational Sessions for Proposed Hydroelectric Generation Station Scheduled

Posted on: March 12th, 2021 by Brent Gotsch
Pro­posed pump stor­age lay­out. Source: Pre­mi­um Ener­gy Holdings

Recent­ly, Pre­mi­um Ener­gy Hold­ings has pro­posed plans to con­struct a pumped stor­age hydro­elec­tric gen­er­at­ing sta­tion near the Ashokan Reser­voir. Two info ses­sions on this top­ic have been sched­uled for next week. One ses­sion will be host­ed by the Phoeni­cia Library on Tues­day, March 16 start­ing at 7:00 p.m. and oth­er will be host­ed by the Town of Olive on Thurs­day, March 18 start­ing at 6:30 p.m. Both will be held online. Links to more infor­ma­tion on the meet­ings are below.

March 16, 2021 at 7:00 p.m.:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1131783397242805

March 18, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.:  https://town.olive.ny.us/news/ashokan-pumped-storage-project-meeting/?fbclid=IwAR3y_ix7TtEWy6PT0KRI3eVWZVr8VYvQGO64dYZiYyT626P_S5k3Ka_Uom4

Town of Olive Home­page (has links to pro­pos­al):  https://town.olive.ny.us/

Town of Shan­dak­en Page (has addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion on pro­pos­al):  https://www.shandaken-ny.com/news/re-underground-hydroelectric-plant-proposal-at-ashokan-reservoir-raises-concerns/

Catskill Visitor Use Survey Open Through March 19

Posted on: March 9th, 2021 by Brent Gotsch

The NYS Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion (NYSDEC) and the Catskill Advi­so­ry Group have devel­oped a sur­vey to help bet­ter deter­mine the cur­rent and future needs of the Catskill Park. The sur­vey seeks to deter­mine how peo­ple are cur­rent­ly using the Catskill Park and the chal­lenges that the region faces. Ques­tions con­cern­ing trail use, over­crowd­ing, park­ing, and access will help to deter­mine where need­ed invest­ment should be made. This includes stream access and recreation.

The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram (AWSMP) requests every­one who lives in or vis­its the Water­shed take the sur­vey. This will help ensure that the need­ed invest­ments in tourism, eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment, and sus­tain­abil­i­ty are made so every­one in the region can ben­e­fit. The sur­vey is open through March 19.

Stream Management Funding Available

Posted on: February 17th, 2021 by Leslie_Zucker

The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram is now accept­ing appli­ca­tions for stream and flood­plain man­age­ment projects in the Ashokan Reser­voir water­shed

Appli­ca­tions must be sub­mit­ted by Wednes­day, March 10, 2021.  

For more infor­ma­tion on who is eli­gi­ble and fund­ing pri­or­i­ties, vis­it: https://ashokanstreams.org/projects-funding/

To down­load the appli­ca­tion mate­ri­als:
Appli­ca­tion Form (Microsoft Word)
Appli­ca­tions Instruc­tions (pdf)

Fund­ing for the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Imple­men­ta­tion Pro­gram is pro­vid­ed by the NYC Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion. Stream Man­age­ment Imple­men­ta­tion Pro­gram grants are admin­is­tered by Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster Coun­ty and reviewed by the AWSMP Stake­hold­er Council. 

For more infor­ma­tion or to sched­ule a meet­ing or site vis­it, con­tact Leslie Zuck­er at laz5@cornell.edu or call AWSMP at (845) 688‑3047.

Showshoe Stream Walk along the Little Beaver Kill February 13th

Posted on: January 29th, 2021 by Brent Gotsch

Reg­is­ter now for a Win­ter Snow­shoe Stream Walk with the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram along a trib­u­tary to the Lit­tle Beaver Kill on the grounds of Ken­neth Wil­son State Camp­ground locat­ed at 859 Wit­ten­berg Road in Mount Trem­per, NY from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sat­ur­day, Feb­ru­ary 13, 2021. If there is not enough snow for snow­shoe­ing, a “No-Snow” date is sched­uled for Sat­ur­day, Feb­ru­ary 20. If there is still no snow on this date, a reg­u­lar stream walk will be held with­out snowshoes.

Snow­shoes and walk­ing poles will be pro­vid­ed, though, par­tic­i­pants are encour­aged to bring their own gear. Those with lim­it­ed or no expe­ri­ence snow­shoe­ing are encour­aged to attend. Instruc­tion on how to snow­shoe prop­er­ly and safe­ly will be giv­en before ven­tur­ing out on the trail.

The walk will be approx­i­mate­ly 2 hours in length on NYS Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion land. Walk is designed for begin­ners but the group at times may go off trail. Dur­ing the walk, edu­ca­tors from Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster Coun­ty will share infor­ma­tion about local streams and pro­tect­ing water resources, and we will inves­ti­gate signs of local wildlife. There will be fre­quent stops to point out inter­est­ing fea­tures of the stream or to dis­cuss envi­ron­men­tal top­ics. Be sure to bring your own snack and beverage.

Meet at the Ken­neth Wil­son State Camp­ground park­ing area at 859 Wit­ten­berg Road by 10:00 am. Par­tic­i­pants must fill out and return a Lia­bil­i­ty and Media Release Form and a Stream Safe­ty Pledge in order to participate.

The event is free of charge, but space is lim­it­ed. Please reg­is­ter ear­ly to hold your spot. Reg­is­ter online at https://cceulster.mahaplatform.com/events/snowshoestreamwalk or con­tact Brent Gotsch at the AWSMP office at bwg37@cornell.edu or 845–688‑3047 ext.103.

This pro­gram is fund­ed by the NYC Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion.

AWSMP Provides Watershed-Based Remote Learning during Pandemic

Posted on: January 26th, 2021 by Brent Gotsch
Water­shed Youth Edu­ca­tor Matt Savat­gy pro­vid­ing remote learn­ing sci­ence edu­ca­tion for ele­men­tary school stu­dents in the Onte­o­ra Cen­tral School Dis­trict. Pho­to by Bai­ley Savatgy.

Despite the ongo­ing pan­dem­ic, the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram (AWSMP) has found a way to pro­vide water­shed-based sci­ence edu­ca­tion to Onte­o­ra Cen­tral School Dis­trict ele­men­tary students.

Work­ing direct­ly with teach­ers, our youth edu­ca­tor, Matt Savat­gy, has been pro­vid­ing remote instruc­tion­al sup­port since last fall. Regard­less of whether they are at school or at home, stu­dents join Matt each week for a live Google Class­room sci­ence ses­sion. A wide range of water­shed-relat­ed top­ics are cov­ered through­out the school year. Accord­ing to Matt, “Much of the ele­men­tary school sci­ence cur­ricu­lum is direct­ly relat­able to the Ashokan Water­shed, par­tic­u­lar­ly in fourth grade.”

Savat­gy uses short video clips, lots of back-and-forth dis­cus­sions, demon­stra­tions, spec­i­mens from his exten­sive nat­ur­al his­to­ry col­lec­tion, and games to help stu­dents grasp required sci­en­tif­ic con­cepts.  Ben­nett Ele­men­tary School Teacher Eliz­a­beth Lef­ferts says, “My stu­dents eager­ly look for­ward to each of our sci­ence ses­sions with Mr. Savat­gy and the inter­ac­tive activ­i­ties they know are await­ing them.”

As a way to extend learn­ing beyond the remote class­room meet­ings stu­dents are pro­vid­ed with video links and activ­i­ty resources for them to try at home and they are encour­aged to use them while explor­ing their local out­door set­ting. Fourth Grade teacher, Liz Cor­sit­to, indi­cat­ed that, “This year has been dif­fi­cult to nav­i­gate in terms of teach­ing and learn­ing vir­tu­al­ly. Matt has stepped in to encour­age our stu­dents to still love sci­ence even though it is being deliv­ered vir­tu­al­ly and to get involved in the sci­ence that sur­rounds them at home.”

The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram also pro­vides numer­ous oppor­tu­ni­ties out­side of school for stu­dents to learn about the impor­tance of streams and our water­shed. A cou­ple of these activ­i­ties include: The Water­shed Detec­tives after­school pro­gram and the annu­al Stream Explor­ers Youth Adven­ture. To learn more about these pro­grams and AWSMP, vis­it ashokanstreams.org.

Request for Images from December Flood

Posted on: January 7th, 2021 by Brent Gotsch
Multiple images showing evidence of high water such as deposited tree branches and flooded roadways
Above are exam­ples of images that AWSMP is request­ing for the Decem­ber 2020 Flood Event

The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram (AWSMP) is request­ing images and video of flood­ing that occurred from last month’s rain-on-snowmelt storm of Christ­mas Eve into Christ­mas Day. We are most inter­est­ed in flood­ing that occurred in the Ashokan Water­shed munic­i­pal­i­ties of Hur­ley, Olive, Shan­dak­en, and Wood­stock. Images of water spilling out over stream­banks, over­top­ping roads, impact­ing build­ings and infra­struc­ture (bridges, cul­verts, etc.) are what we are most inter­est­ed in. Also impor­tant and very help­ful are post-flood images show­ing wood or grav­el debris piles indi­cat­ing what are called “high water marks”.

Any­one with images or videos that they would like to share should con­tact Aaron Ben­nett at aben@co.ulster.ny.us. Those who choose to share images or video will need to fill out a Media Release form that gives us per­mis­sion to use the images/video. Com­pen­sa­tion will not be giv­en for use of the images/video. These images will be used to help bet­ter under­stand the nature of flood­ing in the Ashokan Water­shed and be used to help mod­el future flood events.