Around the Watershed: News and Events

Register Now for Snow Shoe Stream Walk!

Posted on: January 13th, 2022 by Leslie_Zucker
People snow shoeing on a woodland trail

Register now for a Winter Snowshoe Stream Walk with the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program (AWSMP) along the Little Beaver Kill, located at the Kenneth Wilson Campground Nature Trail, 859 Wittenberg Road, Mount Tremper, NY 12457. 

There will be two snowshoe sessions at 10:00 am to 12:30 pm and 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm on Saturday, February 5, 2022. If there is not enough snow for snowshoeing on this date then the “no-snow date” will be Saturday, February 12, 2022.

Participants will meet at the Kenneth Wilson Campground parking area by 10:00 am (first session) or 1:00 pm (second session).

This event, which is free of charge, is open to residents of the Ashokan Watershed. Generally, the Ashokan Watershed overlaps the towns of Shandaken, Olive, Woodstock, and Hurley in Ulster County, and Lexington and Hunter in Greene County. Participants must be at least 8 years of age or older to attend, and children must be accompanied by an adult

Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place. Outdoor masking is not required where physical distancing can be maintained. Proof of vaccination or a negative rapid test the day of the event is required for participation. Contact Dani White if you have any special needs at daw287@cornell.edu or 845–688-3047 ext. 100.

Stream partially covered with snow and ice

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.

Each walk session will be approximately 2 hours in length on NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) Wild Forest land. 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.

The event is free of charge but space is limited. Please register early to hold your spot. Reg­is­ter online or contact Dani White at the AWSMP office at daw287@cornell.edu or 845–688-3047 ext. 100.

Happy New Year! (but not New Water Year)

Posted on: January 4th, 2022 by Tim Koch

Welcome to the first week of 2022, at least according to your desk calendar.

For hydrologists, we are already one quarter of the way through the 2022 water year, which began on October 1, 2021.

In the United States, hydrologic water years run from October 1st through September 30th, and are named by the calendar year in which it ends. So, the 2021 water year ended on September 30th 2021 and the 2022 water year began on October 1st, 2021.

Why?

There are a couple hydrological things happening in early autumn that warrant celebrating New Water Year’s Day on October 1st.

The first involves snow. Particularly in high mountain settings, snow that falls from October through December might not melt and become stream flow until spring the following year. If water years were aligned with the calendar, the annual water budget would not be balanced. The hydrologic income (i.e., annual precipitation) would not equal hydrologic expenditures. A simplified water budget can be expressed as:

P = RO + ET + ΔS

Where,

P = precipitation,

RO = runoff (stream flow),

ET = evapotranspirtation (combined evaporation and transpiration from plants), and

ΔS = change in soil storage (groundwater).

The second reason for celebrating New Water Year’s Day on October 1st instead of January 1st is stream flow. On average, early autumn is when stream flow is at its lowest. The blue line in the image below shows the mean daily discharge of the Esopus Creek at Allaben for water years 2014-2021 (October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2021). The vertical red lines represent October 1st of each year.

It is clear in this chart that early autumn is typically when the Esopus Creek is at its lowest flow of the year. The hot summer growing season, when evaporation and transpiration were at their peaks, has depleted the groundwater storage. Stream baseflow decreases in response to the lowering of the groundwater table. This makes October 1st the perfect time to celebrate New Water Year’s Day.

Secure Your Fuel Tank Through the Catskill Watershed Corporation’s Tank Anchoring Program

Posted on: December 22nd, 2021 by Brent Gotsch
Flooded Propane Tanks. Photo from Catskill Watershed Corporation

Do you own property in the NYC West of Hudson Watershed?

Is your property located in a mapped FEMA floodplain?

Do you have an oil or propane fuel tank?

If so you may be eligible for funding from the Catskill Watershed Corporation’s (CWC) Flood Hazard Mitigation Implementation Tank Anchoring Program. This program is designed to help residents and businesses keep their tanks safe from damage and flotation during a flood. Preventing spills helps protect water quality and human health.

Oil tanks up to 330 gallons and propane tanks up to 420 pounds located within the 500-year floodplain of the West of Hudson NYC Watershed are eligible. Larger commercial tanks may be eligible but require CWC Board of Directors approval. If approved the Catskill Watershed Corporation will cover tank anchoring costs whether they are outdoors or in basements. Landowners will hire a contractor of their choice to complete tank anchoring. No cost to applicant.

For more information and links to applications visit:  https://tinyurl.com/9tnbntcc

If you have additional questions please contact John Mathiesen at 845-586-1400 or jmathiesen@cwconline.org

A propane tank anchored against flotation. Photo by Catskill Watershed Corporation

AWSMP Staff Featured on New Podcast

Posted on: November 19th, 2021 by Tim Koch

AWSMP staffers Tim Koch and Aaron Bennett are featured in the recently released “Views From the Watershed” podcast. The podcast is a self-guided audio tour of the New York City West-of-Hudson Water Supply Watershed, and features many other notable Catskills names.

Tim is in Episode #11 titled “Un-Muddying the Waters.” Recorded at the Main Street bridge in Phoenicia, Tim discusses how a project designed to improve sediment transport was used to reduce flooding on Main Street in a flood prone village built on an alluvial fan. Other topics include turbidity, the importance of riparian buffers, and climate change.

Looking upstream at the rock vane installed on the Stony Clove Creek from the Main Street bridge in Phoenicia.

Aaron is featured in Episode 12, “Tough Choices.” From a vacant lot in Boiceville, Aaron discusses the hard decisions faced by flood prone communities in the Catskills, and all over the country. He explains why building flood walls and dredging streams are no longer practical, affordable, or sustainable solutions.

Extensive flooding in Boiceville following Tropical Storm Irene, August 2011.

The Views from the Watershed tour is where ever you get your podcasts, or from walkingthewatershed.com

AnchorFM: https://anchor.fm/viewsfromthewatershed
Apple Music: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/views-from-the-watershed/id1592851348
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/4k44bT6rPdqgrNSneGI8bi
Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/show/views-from-the-watershed

5-Year Flood Event in Oliverea

Posted on: November 1st, 2021 by Tim Koch

The Esopus Creek headwaters and Birch Creek both experienced a 5-year flood event as a result of heavy rains on October 25th and 26th. The McKinley Hollow bridge was briefly overtopped due to downed trees blocking the inlet. Oliverea Road (County Route 47) was closed for a number of hours due to flooding in a low lying area where the road and stream are at the same elevation. Ulster County DPW promptly responded to reopen the bridge and road.

McKinley Hollow bridge after large trees were removed from the inlet and placed on the downstream side of the bridge.
Ulster County DPW crews at work reopening a low-lying section of Olivera Road.

A 5-year flood event is the discharge that has a 20% chance of occurring in any given year, based on statistical analysis of at least 10 years of continuous flow data from a USGS stream gage. The “100-year flood” has a 1% chance of occurring in any given year.

The longer the period of record at the gage, the more accurate the probabilities will be for a flood of a given magnitude. The Ashokan Reservoir watershed is one of the most heavily monitored watersheds in New York State, both in terms of the number of gages and the length of time.

The Esopus Creek gage at Allaben has continuous flow data since 1968 (53 years) and the Birch Creek at Big Indian gage has been in operation since 1998 (23 years). The Esopus Creek at Coldbrook gage has been continuously monitoring flow since 1931 (90 years), with monthly flow data dating back to 1914, when the Olivebridge dam and the Ashokan Reservoir were still being constructed.

USGS stream gage on the Esopus Creek at Coldbook, in continuous operation for 90 years. Photo courtesy of USGS.

The Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program is continuing to assess this flood event and assisting local highway departments with emergency stream repairs as requested. If you need advise on how to manage flooding or erosion on your property in the Ashokan Reservoir watershed, call the stream program office at (845) 688-3047.

Municipal Officials’ Day, Wednesday, October 20

Posted on: October 18th, 2021 by Leslie_Zucker

Municipal officials from the towns of Shandaken, Olive, Woodstock, Hurley, Lexington and Hunter are invited to attend a 2-hour educational event in Phoenicia on Wednesday, October 20 from 3:00-5:00 pm. The topic will be managing sediment in streams to reduce flooding and erosion. We’ll learn more about how streams transport sediment and how to manage sediment when an intervention is necessary. A certificate of completion will be offered for Continuing Education Credit.

The program starts at the Phoenicia Fire Hall on Route 214 where registration begins at 2:30 pm. We’ll spend a half hour indoors and then move outdoors to the Main Street Bridge where the Town of Shandaken grappled with a massive sediment accumulation and flooding in the 2010s. Sediment management in the Esopus Creek was examined again during a Local Flood Analysis for Phoenicia. Town officials will discuss flood mitigation steps they are taking to improve conditions in a hamlet that is largely in the 100-year floodplain.

Registration is required. Covid-19 safety procedures will be in place for the indoor portion of event. To register, enter your contact information here: https://tinyurl.com/2021-Municipal-Officials-Day.

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!