The Stony Clove Creek-Warner Creek Confluence stream restoration project was constructed in 2014 in the hamlet of Chichester, NY to address erosion and stream stability concerns. The project site is located at the confluence of Stony Clove Creek and Warner Creek and extends downstream ending before the Silver Hollow Rd. bridge.
This reach of of the stream is extremely steep – the slope is about 4%, and the channel is confined within the streambanks during high flow events. Over the years, fast flows had cut through the stream channel bottom, causing the stream banks to slump. Large cracks appeared in the banks, indicating the potential for mass failure. If left unchecked, bank erosion would threaten both Route 214 and Silver Hollow Rd.
History of the Site
According to the Stony Clove Creek Stream Management Plan, the project site was the historic location a railroad trestle for the Stony Clove and Kaaterskill rail line that began operations in 1883. Prior to this, the Warner Creek and Stony Clove valleys had been logged. Both activities probably impacted the project site significantly. While the location of the stream channel remained fairly stable over time, the bed itself steadily eroded downward causing the adjacent banks to destabilize.
Between 1980 and 2000, rip-rap revetment (a lining of large rock) was placed on the stream’s right bank, which during the 1996 floods appeared to trigger severe erosion on the left stream bank where erosive flows were now concentrated. Afterward, the left bank was also rip-rapped. The Town, NYSDOT, and nearby landowners installed and repaired the rip-rap walls over the years. Still, about 1,366 feet of streambank was actively eroding by 2001 when the AWSMP conducted a stream feature inventory. At that time, 1,103 feet of banks were lined with rock revetment. Floods in 2010 further destabilized the stream bed and banks. Recent removal of an old abutment may have added to instability of the bed at the Stony Clove’s confluence with Warner Creek.
The Stony Clove Creek Stream Management Plan recommended full restoration of the site. Recommendations included installation of a series of large rock step and pool structures to control the stream’s grade and direct erosive forces away from the banks. Another recommendation was to install a floodplain bench between the active channel and eroding banks, and then stabilize the bench with tree and shrub plantings.
The construction firm Baker Brothers Excavating of West Hurley, NY was hired to install the series of large rock structures to prevent channel erosion. The structures look like rock “steps” found in steep streams throughout the Catskills. The engineering firm Milone & MacBroom, Inc (MMI) designed the project. MMI and the Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District provided construction oversight.
To further stabilize the channel bed and prevent its erosion, thick metal sheet-piling was driven 10-23 feet into the ground with one of the largest excavator-mounted pneumatic hammers available. The piling was buried under native boulders and fill that restored the bed to a stable elevation. With the stream bed restored to a stable elevation, flows now access a small floodplain along the bank. The rock steps in the channel and floodplain absorb the energy of fast flows.
At project end, the stream banks and floodplain were re-vegetated with native trees and shrubs to hold any exposed soil and provide cover for migrating fish. Although this steep section of the Stony Clove is believed to provide limited habitat for fish, the construction crews observed large trout at the site.
Public Access to Streams
The Phoenicia Library, a cornerstone of the greater Shandaken community, was badly damaged in a fire in 2010. Among the damaged items in the library was the Jerry Bartlett Memorial Angling Collection, which contained priceless artifacts and resources related to the Catskill region’s long history of dry fly fishing. The Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program provided the Phoenicia Library with a $10,000 grant to rehabilitate this collection and provide outreach and education services to anglers of all ages and the general public about the intimate links between a healthy ecosystem, clean water, robust fish, and abundant macroinvertebrate populations. The project will provide workshops, presentations and events as well as digital exhibits and creation of a website. We are pleased to say the library is now open to the public again. Stop by the library to view the Jerry Bartlett Memorial Angling Collection!
In October 2010 a flood washed out a stream crossing along Bradkin Road in the Town of Olive. This stream crossing was the only way for residents to access their property. The Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program granted $107,480 to the Town of Olive to replace the crossing with a new culvert that is sized appropriately for the stream channel. Using engineered designs from Ulster County Soil & Water Conservation District and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Town Highway Department installed the culvert in the summer of 2011. The culvert survived Tropical Storms Irene and Lee later that year.
In 2010, following several major flood events, the Town of Shandaken developed the Shandaken Area Flood Assessment and Remediation Initiative (SAFARI) to help plan for ways to mitigate future flood events in the Town. To assist with this goal, the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program granted the Town of Shandaken $102,500 to hire consultants to develop a long-term mitigation strategy for the town with an emphasis on Phoenicia. The consultants are assisting the town with applying to the FEMA Community Rating System (CRS) program. The CRS is a program that allows municipalities to perform services and tasks that can lower the rate their residents pay on flood insurance premiums.
In July of 2013, the final Town of Shandaken Flood Mitigation Plan was completed. Shortly afterward, New York State launched its New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program. This opened up a new funding stream for flood hazard mitigation projects in the Ashokan watershed. In addition, NYC DEP’s Local Flood Analysis (LFA) Program is gearing up to launch. This program will provide funding for watershed towns to perform flood mitigation projects in hamlet population centers. The projects must first undergo an engineering and benefit-cost analysis. The results will help communities to determine feasibility and potential effectiveness of the projects. AWSMP will continue to work with watershed towns and other partner agencies to plan and implement flood hazard mitigation measures.
Town of Shandaken Flood Mitigation Plan:
Cover and Contents
Section 1 and 2
Appendix A – Acronyms and Definitions
Appendix B – CRS Planning Requirements
Appendix C Part I – Public Survey
Appendix C Part IIa – Public Presentation
Appendix C Part IIb – Public Presentations
Appendix C Part IIc – Public Presentations
Appendix C Part IId – Public Presentations
Appendix C Part IIe – Public Presentations
Appendix C Part III – Meeting Records
Appendix D – Example Progress Report
The Catskill Streams Buffer Initiative (CSBI) is one of the primary programs the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program offers to streamside landowners. CSBI works with landowners to install riparian (streamside) vegetation for bank stabilization to stop erosion and enhance riparian habitat. In 2011 and 2012, CSBI completed 25 projects and revegetated approximately 5,400 feet of stream bank. The Ulster County Soil & Water Conservation District will assist any landowner with stream management questions.
For more information on how to participate in CSBI, please call the Ashokan Stream Program office at (845) 688-3047, or visit the CSBI program website.
Aquatic and Riparian Habitat
The Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program awarded the Town of Woodstock a $29,000 grant to cover partial costs to complete Habitat Mapping for the Town of Woodstock. The grant covered hiring Hudsonia Ltd., a not-for-profit environmental sciences organization, to complete field survey and develop a map and report describing the diverse habitats in the Town. The maps produced will aide the town with planning, development, and conservation decisions. Mapping was completed over a two-year period through the summer of 2012. The maps and report identify significant habitats and associated wildlife found within stream corridors of the Beaver Kill, Little Beaver Kill, and Warner Creek tributaries to the Esopus Creek. The Wood Turtle is a stream corridor species of conservation concern and interest found in these drainages.
See Hudsonia’s report and the Town of Woodstock habitat map for more information on conserving natural areas in stream corridors and wood turtles and their habitat in the Ashokan Watershed.