Around the Watershed: News and Events

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!

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.