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

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.

AWSMP Office Open to Public

Posted on: May 26th, 2021 by Leslie_Zucker

The AWSMP office is now open to the pub­lic Wednes­day through Fri­day from 9 am‑4 pm begin­ning May 26. The office is locat­ed at 3146 State Route 28 in Shokan across from the Cit­go gas sta­tion. The main office is in the ‘A‑frame’ for­mer mod­el home. The brown cab­in next door is where to find the Catskill Streams Buffer Ini­tia­tive.

The pro­gram office plans to reopen more ful­ly after we com­plete hir­ing of sev­er­al new staff. Masks are required when enter­ing the office.

Stop by if you need stream pro­gram infor­ma­tion, or con­tact us at info@ashokanstreams.org or (845) 688‑3047. The stream pro­gram also offers site vis­its to assess stream issues and pro­vide advise and assis­tance to Ashokan water­shed landowners.

stream program office

Office of the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram (AWSMP) in Shokan, NY.

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.