Around the Watershed: News and Events

What is a Stream Feature Inventory (SFI)?

Posted on: July 7th, 2020 by Tim Koch

Hold on tight for a bit of reverse engineering:

The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram (AWSMP) is a col­lab­o­ra­tion between Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County, the Ulster County Soil & Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict, and the New York City Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Protection.

All of the AWSMP’s stream man­age­ment activ­i­ties are under­taken in coor­di­na­tion with a local Stake­holder Coun­cil. The Stake­holder Coun­cil uses rec­om­men­da­tions from Stream Man­age­ment Plans to guide their deci­sion mak­ing. Man­age­ment plans con­tain a com­pre­hen­sive review of stream char­ac­ter­is­tics, data, maps, and rec­om­mended man­age­ment strategies.

The large amount of data and obser­va­tions required to write a man­age­ment plan for a stream come from a Stream Fea­ture Inven­tory (SFI). This is where the rub­ber meets the road, or, where the wad­ing boots meet the stream bed.

Dur­ing a SFI, AWSMP staff from the Ulster County Soil & Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict walk a stream from top to bot­tom, col­lect­ing data on erod­ing stream banks, log­jams, and infra­struc­ture. These data are then ana­lyzed and ulti­mately used to write a stream man­age­ment plan.

Join AWSMP Stream Edu­ca­tor Tim Koch as he joins the assess­ment crew on a SFI of the Elk Bushkill Creek in the Town of Shan­daken. This SFI is part of a larger effort by AWSMP to assess mul­ti­ple head­wa­ter trib­u­taries of the Eso­pus Creek, includ­ing McKin­ley Hol­low Creek and Lit­tle Peck Hol­low Creek. These trib­u­taries may be con­tribut­ing exces­sive sed­i­ment loads to the upper Eso­pus  Creek in the Oliv­erea val­ley. Excess sed­i­ment sup­ply leads to aggra­da­tion, or sed­i­ment “fill­ing in” the stream, which can sub­se­quently trig­ger bank ero­sion and raise flood ele­va­tions.  SFI’s of the Eso­pus Creek head­wa­ters may help to locate and pri­or­i­tize restora­tion project sites aimed at reduc­ing the sed­i­ment sup­ply reach­ing the valley.

Stay tuned in the com­ing months for a SFI report on the Eso­pus Creek Head­wa­ters and for a new stream man­age­ment plan for the Lit­tle Beaver Kill in the Town of Woodstock.


Celebrate Ashokan Watershed Weekend July 9 — 10!

Posted on: June 26th, 2020 by Irene Foster



Look­ing for some­thing fun and edu­ca­tional to do this sum­mer? If you are, the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram (AWSMP) is plan­ning Ashokan Water­shed Week­end over sev­eral week­ends this sum­mer start­ing July 9–10, 2020.

AWSMP is offer­ing a vari­ety of events where Ashokan Water­shed res­i­dents can learn more about the watershed’s creeks and streams, how they behave, and what we can do to ben­e­fit (and ben­e­fit from) them. These events are open and free to any res­i­dent of the Ashokan Water­shed, and you can look at this map to see if you are a water­shed resident.

July 9th from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm is Munic­i­pal Offi­cials Day. The event is offered online and all munic­i­pal offi­cials and agency staff work­ing in the Ashokan Water­shed are encour­aged to attend. A cer­tifi­cate of train­ing for those seek­ing munic­i­pal edu­ca­tion credit will be offered. The first pre­sen­ta­tion is “Streams 101” which will cover a basic under­stand­ing of how streams func­tion. The sec­ond pre­sen­ta­tion is “Get to Know Your Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram” which will share what the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram offers to landown­ers, munic­i­pal­i­ties, and water users.

July 10th is Youth and Fam­ily Day. The first event will be the “Kanape Brook Stream Walk” from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. This is a hike along the beau­ti­ful Kanape Brook in West Shokan, NY. We will talk about stream ecol­ogy and phys­i­cal fea­tures, and stream­side veg­e­ta­tion. We will also spend time near a large North Amer­i­can Beaver lodge com­plex and learn more about these amaz­ing mam­mals. The hike will be about 3 hours long and about 4 miles. There will be two groups, one leav­ing at 9:00am and one leav­ing at 10:00am. Each group will only have 10 par­tic­i­pants, so make sure you reg­is­ter early!

The sec­ond event of Youth and Fam­ily Day on July 10th will be the pre­mier of the “Love Your Stream Video Project” from 4:00 pm-5:00 pm.  To show how much we love our streams in the Ashokan Water­shed, AWSMP will be com­pil­ing a col­lec­tion of videos about activ­i­ties tak­ing place on the streams in our water­shed. Fam­i­lies or indi­vid­u­als are invited to sub­mit a short video (no more than 5 min­utes) of you doing an activ­ity that you love by or on your stream. You are also invited to sub­mit pho­tographs or orig­i­nal art­work. Please read the Sub­mis­sion Guide­lines. All sub­mis­sions are due by Fri­day, July 8, 2020. Con­tact Brent Gotsch at to sub­mit your work. The video com­pi­la­tion will be shared at an event streamed online at 4:00pm on July 10th. After we share the videos, AWSMP staff will be on hand to answer any ques­tions you have about stream management.

For more detailed infor­ma­tion on Ashokan Water­shed Week­end and for links to reg­is­tra­tion please visit AWSMP’s web­site  devoted to Ashokan Water­shed Week­end.

Stay tuned for more Ashokan Water­shed Week­end events this sum­mer! They will be focused on the needs of stream­side landown­ers in the Ashokan Watershed.

Birding in the Ashokan Watershed

Posted on: June 17th, 2020 by Irene Foster
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)

Belted King­fisher (Megac­eryle alcyon)


Are you look­ing for a fun, safe activ­ity to try now that the weather is nicer and reopen­ing is ramping-up? If so, con­sider stream­side bird­ing in the Ashokan Water­shed. In the Ashokan Water­shed there are many oppor­tu­ni­ties to hang out near streams while you are pic­nick­ing, hik­ing, or just relax­ing.  While you are there, you can spot many types of wildlife, espe­cially birds. Also, you can look for birds while obey­ing social dis­tanc­ing recommendations.

Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)

Com­mon Mer­ganser (Mer­gus merganser)


Some com­mon bird species you are likely to encounter are the red-winged black­bird, belted king fisher, great blue heron, Canada geese, and sev­eral species of ducks such as mal­lards, wood ducks, and the com­mon mer­ganser.  In addi­tion to those com­mon aquatic birds, there are many song­birds that rely on the ripar­ian areas for their habi­tats.  The ripar­ian zone is the area along the sides of streams. If you are spend­ing time on the Eso­pus Creek, you might catch a glimpse of bald eagles, who work their way upstream from the reser­voir in search of food.

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)


To go bird­ing, you do not need to be an expert on ornithol­ogy (the study of birds) or have any fancy equip­ment. How­ever, if you want some help get­ting started and learn­ing more about bird­ing, there are many smart­phone apps that can help you. Bird­ing apps offer a wide vari­ety of fea­tures such as iden­ti­fy­ing birds, iden­ti­fy­ing bird songs, track­ing which bird species you find, or view­ing other bird sight­ings that have been logged near you.

A female and male pair of Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos)

A female and male pair of Mal­lard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos)


If you are look­ing for more infor­ma­tion on iden­ti­fy­ing stream­side birds, check out the Cor­nell Lab of Ornithology.

Some more resources on bird­ing are the Young Bird­ers Net­work through the New York State Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion, the Audubon Guide to North Amer­i­can Birds, or this Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram Newslet­ter from 2014 that has more bird species to look for and sug­ges­tions of where to look for them.

If you would like to learn more about a com­mon water­shed and back­yard bird species, the Amer­i­can Robin, you can view Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Program’s new video on our YouTube chan­nel.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

Stream Management Funds Available

Posted on: June 10th, 2020 by Leslie_Zucker

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

Appli­ca­tions must be sub­mit­ted to the pro­gram office by Wednes­day, July 8. Elec­tronic sub­mis­sions are accepted. For more infor­ma­tion and appli­ca­tion mate­ri­als, visit the web­site

Eli­gi­ble appli­cants include local, county, state or fed­eral gov­ern­ment agen­cies; 501©3 orga­ni­za­tions; and sec­ondary school dis­tricts, col­leges, or uni­ver­si­ties. For-profit orga­ni­za­tions are eli­gi­ble to apply in the Research, Assess­ment, and Mon­i­tor­ing cat­e­gory only.

Please review pri­or­ity needs iden­ti­fied by the AWSMP in stream man­age­ment plans, the program’s annual action plan, and research agenda before applying.

Fund­ing is avail­able for pri­or­ity projects to:

- Improve water qual­ity and enhance stream sta­bil­ity
– Pro­tect or improve stream infra­struc­ture
– Enhance stream access and recre­ation
– Plan and imple­ment flood haz­ard mit­i­ga­tion
– Increase pub­lic knowl­edge and skills for stream stew­ard­ship
– Pro­tect and enhance aquatic and ripar­ian habi­tat and ecosystems

Please note: Replace­ment or repair of fail­ing infra­struc­ture due to aging or decay is not eli­gi­ble for fund­ing. Only the por­tion of costs asso­ci­ated with the enlarge­ment or improve­ment of struc­tures to meet stream man­age­ment objec­tives is eli­gi­ble for funding.

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

For more infor­ma­tion or to sched­ule a meet­ing or site visit, con­tact AWSMP at (845) 688‑3047.

Dining Out on Ashokan Streams

Posted on: June 10th, 2020 by Irene Foster

As Ulster County begins Phase Two of Reopen­ing, many restau­rants are now offer­ing out­door seat­ing. Sev­eral restau­rants even offer a view of our local streams!

Dining out at the Peekamoose Restaurant in Big Indian puts you near Birch Creek.

Din­ing out at the Peekamoose Restau­rant in Big Indian puts you near Birch Creek.


If you’re in Big Indian, the Peekamoose Restau­rant offers out­door din­ing with an over­look of Birch Creek. Orig­i­nat­ing on Hal­cott Moun­tain, Birch Creek is a trib­u­tary of the Eso­pus Creek. Birch Creek was dammed to make Pine Hill Lake. In 1988, the New York State Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion (NYSDEC) rebuilt Pine Hill Lake after the dam had been washed out twice.  In their design, the NYSDEC made sure the lake was hab­it­able for the cold-water trout that live there. Since warm water stresses trout, the NYSDEC built a dam that is located off the stream to keep the water cold.  Addi­tion­ally, a “fish lad­der” was con­structed to help trout travel over the dam.

The Phoenicia Diner and Woodnotes Grille are all within walking distance to the Esopus Creek.

The Phoeni­cia Diner and Wood­notes Grille are all within walk­ing dis­tance to the Eso­pus Creek.


The Phoeni­cia Diner in Phoeni­cia and the Wood­notes Grille at the Emer­son Resort and Spa in Mount Trem­per offer an excel­lent view of the Eso­pus Creek while you are din­ing out­doors or wait­ing for take­out. The Eso­pus Creek is the largest and most well-known stream in the Ashokan Water­shed.  The Eso­pus Creek pro­vides water, eco­nomic oppor­tu­ni­ties, and recre­ational oppor­tu­ni­ties to our local com­mu­ni­ties.  It also pro­vides aquatic habi­tats and ripar­ian habi­tats for an assort­ment of plants and ani­mals. It is divided into the Upper Eso­pus located above the Ashokan Reser­voir and the Lower Eso­pus located below the Ashokan Reser­voir. The Upper Eso­pus has at least 330 miles of trib­u­taries and drains some of the largest moun­tains in the Catskills. It is used for many recre­ational activ­i­ties such as fish­ing, canoe­ing, kayak­ing, and tubing.

The Catskill Rose is just a stone's throw away from the Beaver Kill.

The Catskill Rose is just a stone’s throw away from the Beaver Kill.


One restau­rant with a view of the Beaver Kill is Catskill Rose in Mount Trem­per.  The Beaver Kill starts on Plateau and Sug­ar­loaf moun­tains in the Town of Hunter and con­tains three dif­fer­ent geo­mor­phic sec­tions.  It starts as a very steep, nar­row stream. In the mid­dle sec­tion, it flat­tens and widens out and has lots wet­lands next to it. Even­tu­ally, it becomes steep and nar­row again until it flows into the Eso­pus Creek.

To learn more about parts of water­sheds and river sys­tems check out the new video on Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Program’s YouTube Page.

For a com­plete list of restau­rants that are cur­rently open in Ulster County please visit the Ulster County Alive Take Out and Deliv­ery Guide.

NYSDEC Seeks Public Comment on Inland Fisheries Management Plan

Posted on: June 1st, 2020 by Brent Gotsch
Brook Trout. Photo by Ed Ostapczuk

Brook Trout. Photo by Ed Ostapczuk


The New York Sate Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion (NYSDEC) is seek­ing pub­lic com­ment on its recently released Draft Fish­eries Man­age­ment Plan for Inland Trout Streams. Pub­lic com­ment will be accepted until June 25. The pur­pose of the plan is to help guide the efforts of the NYSDEC as they seek to max­i­mize inland fish­eries for their fullest eco­log­i­cal and recre­ational poten­tial. The NYSDEC have found over 3,000 streams across the state with doc­u­mented pop­u­la­tions of trout. Of those streams, 80% sup­port wild trout populations.


Rainbow Trout. Photo by Ed Ostapczuk

Rain­bow Trout. Photo by Ed Ostapczuk


Inland trout streams are an impor­tant part of New York State’s diverse fish­eries resource. They are par­tic­u­larly impor­tant in the Ashokan Water­shed where fish­ing is a vital his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural ele­ment of the area. It is also an eco­nomic dri­ver with anglers from all over the world com­ing to fish in the famed waters of the Eso­pus Creek and its tributaries.

In order to best man­age inland trout fish­eries, NYSDEC uti­lizes tools such as fish­ing reg­u­la­tions, access and infor­ma­tion, habi­tat pro­tec­tion and improve­ment, and stock­ing hatchery-reared trout. NYSDEC places great impor­tance on mea­sur­ing the out­come of man­age­ment strate­gies against well-defined objectives.

To com­ment, please visit the NYSDEC web­page devoted to the plan. On the page, links to the plan itself as well as meth­ods to sup­ply com­ments can be found. We encour­age all users of fish­eries here in the Ashokan Water­shed to pro­vide com­ments on how they think the fish­eries can best be managed.


Brown Trout. Photo courtesy of Ashokan-Pepacton Chapter of Trout Unlimited

Brown Trout. Photo cour­tesy of Ashokan-Pepacton Chap­ter of Trout Unlimited

Esopus Creek News — Spring Edition

Posted on: May 28th, 2020 by Leslie_Zucker

The short edi­tion of the Eso­pus Creek News newslet­ter called “The Trib” is now avail­able! Explore how you can learn more about streams on your prop­erty and in the water­shed. We also dis­cuss the recent ten-year “dry spell” in river flows and the start of hur­ri­cane sea­son on June 1 and ways you can be pre­pared. Res­i­dents of the Ashokan Water­shed can con­tact the stream man­age­ment pro­gram at (845) 688‑3047. While the stream pro­gram office in Shokan is cur­rently closed to the pub­lic, our staff are respond­ing to mes­sages. Con­tact us at to have the newslet­ter deliv­ered to your email.

Recreate Responsibly

Posted on: May 22nd, 2020 by Brent Gotsch
Image courtesy of the Catskill Center

Image cour­tesy of the Catskill Center


Memo­r­ial Day Week­end is upon us and after weeks of iso­la­tion and stay­ing home many of us are itch­ing to get out to the few places that are open to the pub­lic. While we here at the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram nor­mally would encour­age any­one to come and visit our region, we have to acknowl­edge that this year things are dif­fer­ent. While COVID-19 infec­tions and hos­pi­tal­iza­tions are declin­ing we still need to do our part to ensure that the spread is lim­ited and to keep new out­breaks from popping-up. To that end, while we want every­one to get out­side and enjoy the weather we need to do so responsibly.

The New York State Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion and many other regional groups have encour­aged the fol­low­ing safety mea­sures:

  • Stay Local! Stay close to home, keep your visit short and avoid high-traffic destinations.
  • Be Safe! Avoid crowds and groups (includ­ing crowded trail­heads). Keep a dis­tance of at least 6 feet from oth­ers. Alert oth­ers as you’re about to pass or step aside to let oth­ers pass.
  • Be Ready! Move quickly through park­ing lots, trail­heads and scenic areas. If a site is crowded, choose a dif­fer­ent park, trail or time to visit.
  • Stay Home! If you’re not feel­ing well, stay home. Any­one older than 70 or with a com­pro­mised immune sys­tem should also stay home.


If you’re local to the Ashokan Water­shed we encour­age you to visit some of our many streams. Kanape Brook in the Town of Olive and Rochester Hol­low in the Town of Shan­daken both have walk­ing trails that mostly par­al­lel the streams. Ken­neth Wil­son Camp­ground has trails near the Lit­tle Beaverkill (camp­ing is cur­rently pro­hib­ited). Many of our streams, includ­ing the Eso­pus Creek, have pub­lic fish­ing access points along them where you can go angling. Visit the Ulster County RECon­nect Map to see those loca­tions as well as other hik­ing, fish­ing and out­door oppor­tu­ni­ties. Be sure to keep at least six feet apart, not share equip­ment, and san­i­tize your hands regularly.

We firmly believe that even dur­ing these dif­fi­cult times you can (and should) get out­doors and do so safely and with respect for oth­ers. Respon­si­ble recre­ation is impor­tant even dur­ing nor­mal times and now more than ever. Please do your part to main­tain social dis­tance and to keep your­self and every­one healthy.

Image courtesy of the Catskill Center

Image cour­tesy of the Catskill Center

Watershed Animal Spotlight — The American Beaver

Posted on: May 18th, 2020 by Irene Foster
North American Beaver (Castor canadensis)

North Amer­i­can Beaver (Cas­tor canadensis)


Have you ever looked at a stick and thought it looked super tasty? No? Well if you were a beaver you would eat tree bark and leaves, as well as aquatic veg­e­ta­tion. Recently, Matt Savatgy, our Water­shed Youth Edu­ca­tor, and I took a field trip to the Lit­tle Beaver Kill in Mount Trem­per.  We kayaked up the Lit­tle Beaver Kill (mak­ing sure we were socially dis­tant) look­ing for evi­dence of beavers for our new video series the Water­shed Ani­mal Spot­light. The star of our first episode is the Amer­i­can Beaver.

The Lit­tle Beaver Kill has a thriv­ing beaver pop­u­la­tion, and we were able to see many exam­ples of beaver activ­ity along the stream.  There was an assort­ment of dams, lodges, and canals that showed how busy the beavers have been. Beavers can build all of these because they are per­fectly adapted for life in the water. Some of their aquatic adap­ta­tions include water­proof fur, trans­par­ent eye­lids that allow them to see under­wa­ter, and web­bing between the toes of their back feet that helps them to swim more efficiently.

Be on the look­out for large piles of sticks in ponds and streams, it just might be a beaver lodge. If you want to learn more about beavers, check out our new video by vis­it­ing the AWSMP YouTube Chan­nel or using the fol­low­ing link:



Ashokan Reservoir: A Great Place to Recreate

Posted on: May 18th, 2020 by Brent Gotsch
Ashokan Reservoir. Photo by Allison Lent

Ashokan Reser­voir. Photo by Alli­son Lent


We just wanted to share some beau­ti­ful pho­tos of the Ashokan Reser­voir that were taken recently by AWSMP and Ulster County Soil and Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict employee Alli­son Lent. Even in times like these when there is so much stress and uncer­tainty we should con­sider our­selves lucky to be in such close prox­im­ity to so much nat­ural splendor.

We’re in the midst of fish­ing sea­son and the Ashokan Reser­voir is a great place to get out­side and enjoy some fish­ing while main­tain­ing social dis­tanc­ing. Before you head out be sure to get a New York City Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion (NYC DEP) Access Per­mit (free of charge and eas­ily done online) and a New York State Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion (NYSDEC) Fish­ing License (can also be done online but costs vary).

We hope that you enjoy the reser­voir, pub­lic fish­ing and other pub­lic access along our streams, and every­thing else that our water­shed has to offer.

Ashokan Reservoir. Photo by Allison Lent.

Ashokan Reser­voir. Photo by Alli­son Lent.