Posts Tagged ‘Catskill Streams’

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.



New Video on Stream Channel Stability

Posted on: May 6th, 2020 by Tim Koch

The AWSMP office might be phys­i­cally closed, but our edu­ca­tion staff have been hard at work gen­er­at­ing online stream based con­tent for both youth and adults.

AWSMP Educators Matt Savatgy, Brent, Gotsch, Tim Koch, and Amanda Cabanillas.

AWSMP Edu­ca­tors (from left to right) Matt Savatgy, Brent Gotsch, Tim Koch, and Amanda Caban­il­las dur­ing a snow­shoe stream walk in 2019.


AWSMP Stream Edu­ca­tor Tim Koch has just released a new video on stream chan­nel sta­bil­ity: what it is, and why it is impor­tant to main­tain and improve the sta­bil­ity of our rivers and streams. This 9-minute video is meant for landown­ers, munic­i­pal offi­cials, con­ser­va­tion advi­sory coun­cil mem­bers, and any­one else inter­ested in or involved in stream management.


This video can also be viewed directly from AWSMP’s YouTube Chan­nel.

AWSMP Water­shed Youth Edu­ca­tor Matt Savatgy and Pro­gram Assis­tant Amanda Caban­il­las are cur­rently pro­duc­ing a series of edu­ca­tional videos and at-home activ­i­ties for stu­dents. Fol­low along at home as they dis­cuss dif­fer­ent types of rocks, assess a cul­vert, and inves­ti­gate stream fea­tures in a chan­nel cross-section.


Screenshot of CCE Ulster Youth Education Video Series Website

Screen­shot of CCE Ulster Youth Sci­ence Edu­ca­tion Video Series Website


The online sci­ence series can be found at the Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County web­site and on the AWSMP web­site under Videos.

Check back with us in the com­ing weeks, espe­cially if you are a stream­side landowner or own prop­erty in the Spe­cial Flood Haz­ard Area as Resource Edu­ca­tor Brent Gotsch will be pro­duc­ing a series of short videos on flood­plains, flood­proof­ing, and all things flood insur­ance. In these upcom­ing videos, Brent will teach view­ers how to read a flood insur­ance rate map (FIRM) and the work­ings of the National Flood Insur­ance Pro­gram (NFIP) among other flood related topics.

As always, our edu­ca­tion and tech­ni­cal staff are avail­able to answer any stream, flood­plain, or ripar­ian buffer related ques­tions! Call the AWSMP office main line at (845) 688‑3047 for assis­tance or email


National Invasive Species Awareness Week 2018 — Japanese Knotweed

Posted on: February 26th, 2018 by Samantha Kahl

Feb­ru­ary 26th marks the begin­ning of National Inva­sive Species Aware­ness Week! Through­out this week, until March 2nd, we will be explor­ing dif­fer­ent inva­sive species present within our water­shed. To start off this week, we must first ask our­selves, “What is an inva­sive species?”. An inva­sive species is a species that is non-native to an ecosys­tem and has the poten­tial to cause envi­ron­men­tal harm to an area. Inva­sive species often out-compete native species, giv­ing native species lit­tle chance for sur­vival; this includes both ter­res­trial and aquatic plants and animals.

Japanese Knotweed within the Watershed

Japan­ese Knotweed within the Watershed

The first inva­sive species we’ll look at is Japan­ese Knotweed. This mon­ster of a plant came to the U.S. as an orna­men­tal plant in the 1800’s from East­ern Asia. Knotweed is iden­ti­fied by its large heart-shaped leaves, hol­low bamboo-like stalks, and clus­ters of white or cream col­ored flow­ers. It is often found near streams or rivers and it can with­stand low-light, high tem­per­a­tures, drought, and poor soil qual­ity, mak­ing this inva­sive resilient to many dif­fer­ent types of envi­ron­ments. Knotweed can grow up to 15 feet tall, with deep rhi­zomes (roots) extend­ing into the ground, mak­ing it very dif­fi­cult and timely to eradicate.

Photo of Japanese Knotweed leaves & flowers courtesy of

Photo of Japan­ese Knotweed leaves & flow­ers cour­tesy of

Col­lab­o­ra­tion and coor­di­na­tion from as many peo­ple and orga­ni­za­tions as pos­si­ble is the best way to tackle Japan­ese Knotweed. In order to con­trol it, one must be dili­gent. The Catskill Regional Inva­sive Species Part­ner­ship (CRISP) rec­om­mends con­tin­u­ous man­ual removal of Knotweed approx­i­mately 2–3 times each year for at least 3 years, or until it is erad­i­cated. Accord­ing to New York Inva­sive Species Infor­ma­tion (NYIS), mow­ing or cut­ting of Japan­ese Knotweed will actu­ally spread the plant, rather than con­tain it. For those who would like to use her­bi­cides on large vol­umes of Knotweed, call your local CCE or Soil and Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict office to get more infor­ma­tion on chem­i­cal reg­u­la­tions and safety pre­cau­tions in your region.


Videos regard­ing Inva­sive Species in New York State:

Pre­vent the Spread of Inva­sive Species

Get to Know Inva­sive Plants


Fol­low us this week as we uncover more inva­sive species in our Ashokan Water­shed! Face­bookTwit­terInsta­gram





New Interns Hit the Field

Posted on: June 20th, 2017 by Leslie_Zucker

Saman­tha Kahl, AWSMP’s Tem­po­rary Water­shed Edu­ca­tor reports on train­ing for this year’s sea­sonal stream tech­ni­cians. The tech­ni­cians, and occa­sion­ally Sam, will be in the field sur­vey­ing Ashokan Reser­voir streams this sum­mer. In Sam’s words.…

I just spent five days with seven Water­shed Corps (WCC) interns train­ing under the super­vi­sion of Mark Vian, Emily Polin­sky, and Danyelle Davis of the NYC DEP Stream Man­age­ment Program.

The first three days of the Stream Man­age­ment train­ing was con­ducted in a class­room at Ulster County Com­mu­nity Col­lege (UCCC).  Mark and Emily pro­vided us a solid (and fun) aca­d­e­mic back­ground detail­ing water­shed his­tory, the impor­tance of stream mon­i­tor­ing, and var­i­ous tools and tech­niques used in the field. They are foun­tains of infor­ma­tion regard­ing the NYC Water­shed, mak­ing the aca­d­e­mic por­tion both inter­est­ing and exciting.

WCCC Training 2017_Credit Emily Polinsky

From Left to Right: Justin Alecca (Brown hat, pur­ple shirt), Saman­tha Kahl, Bren­dan Keat­ing, Aaron DePetris, Amanda Caban­il­las (crew leader), Brid­get Bromm (UCCC), Erica DePalma (SCA), Mark Vian, Travis Ferry (RNSMP), Court­ney Brill, Emily Polin­sky, Aimee Hartwig, Win­ston Gedicks.

Due to inclement weather, we lost one of our field train­ing days, but our fear­less lead­ers made the most of our remain­ing two days out in the field. We trav­eled to the Frost Val­ley YMCA where we accessed the West Branch of the Nev­ersink River for our sec­ond round of train­ing. Mark, Emily, and Danyelle, as well as sea­soned WCC intern Amanda Caban­il­las, rein­forced our aca­d­e­mic edu­ca­tion by get­ting us in the stream for visual assess­ments and con­duct­ing stream cross-sections using laser lev­els and sta­dia rods. We also trained on spe­cific com­puter soft­ware (River­Morph) that pro­duces a graph of the cross-section data col­lected; the soft­ware pro­vides a visual rep­re­sen­ta­tion of how the streambed looks if you were to cut the stream in half.

Provisional Data XS1 FVMF

A stream chan­nel cross-section.

The entire group is com­prised of intel­li­gent and ded­i­cated stu­dents from all back­grounds; each of them con­tribut­ing to the train­ing in their own amaz­ing way. A friend from the Round­out Nev­ersink Stream Pro­gram shared with us the ben­e­fits of Chaga mush­rooms and where to find them; a UCCC stu­dent shared his fly tying sto­ries with us; while oth­ers shared expe­ri­ences from their lives and their rea­sons for enter­ing the envi­ron­men­tal field. It was great to be in the field and work with stu­dents and pro­fes­sion­als learn­ing about geo­mor­phol­ogy, all of whom respected each other and gen­uinely cared about stream man­age­ment prac­tices. In my opin­ion, we all came out of the train­ing with the knowl­edge and field expe­ri­ence nec­es­sary to be suc­cess­ful in our desired fields.


Stream Research: Learning the science of streams

Posted on: June 4th, 2015 by Brent Gotsch

I spent the last two days stand­ing in a stream. Was it cold? Yes. Was I fish­ing? Nope.  Instead of wad­ing into the cold moun­tain waters (in waders, don’t worry!) of a pris­tine Catskill stream to fish, I was learn­ing stream sci­ence and col­lect­ing data. Sci­en­tists from NYC DEP are begin­ning their field research sea­son, and with the help of interns from a SUNY Ulster intern­ship pro­gram, they are con­duct­ing hands-on field research to mea­sure, mon­i­tor, and pro­tect streams in the Catskills. With a clip­board in hand for record­ing data, I observed my cowork­ers teach­ing, orches­trat­ing field equip­ment, and demon­strat­ing hands-on sur­vey pro­ce­dures of stream assess­ment. We were learn­ing how to mea­sure the fea­tures of the stream to deter­mine its ero­sion poten­tial and impacts to water qual­ity, which involves col­lect­ing a sub­stan­tial amount of data. We care­fully arranged field equip­ment along the length and width of the stream, and mea­sured details about the stream channel’s dimen­sions and struc­ture, includ­ing rif­fles and pools, slope, chan­nel depth, flood­plain, and looked for evi­dence of how the stream changes over time, and why.


West Branch Neversink River

West Branch Nev­ersink River

Most peo­ple don’t real­ize how much is actu­ally hap­pen­ing in a stream ecosys­tem. Streams are absolutely buzzing with the life of flora and fauna, and they are also in con­stant motion, try­ing to reach energy equi­lib­rium. The old adage that “You never step in the same river twice”, rings true as streams are con­stantly chang­ing and adjust­ing their sed­i­ment mate­ri­als, plant mate­ri­als, water flow and chan­nel path.

Caddisfly Larvae Casings on a Rock in the Neversink River

Cad­dis­fly Lar­vae Cas­ings on a Rock in the Nev­ersink River

As an edu­ca­tor, I tend to look at stream ecosys­tems as a whole sys­tem of many parts, much like a puz­zle that makes up a whole pic­ture. I want to explore how the ecosys­tem works and why we con­duct research to help oth­ers under­stand the use and impor­tance of this work. The research and train­ing we con­duct helps man­agers bet­ter under­stand stream chan­nel struc­tures, sta­bil­ity and poten­tial for ero­sion that may impact human infra­struc­ture, and water qual­ity down river. Stream research also helps sci­en­tists and engi­neers to rec­og­nize how healthy and sta­ble streams work so that they can uti­lize that infor­ma­tion and data to sta­bi­lize and restore streams with struc­ture and ero­sion prob­lems in other places.

Neversink River - Cross Section Survey

Nev­ersink River — Cross Sec­tion Survey

Every­thing we do in and around streams has an impact on them. For this rea­son, we strive to under­stand how they work and change so that we can reduce neg­a­tive impacts when our lives and work, and their move­ment con­verge. Wad­ing across the rocks of a rush­ing stream while try­ing to take mea­sure­ments for stream data can teach a per­son a lot of respect for the power of mov­ing water.  Trees that fall into the stream also impact its struc­ture, flow, sta­bil­ity, and pro­vide crit­i­cally impor­tant habi­tat for aquatic life such as fish and insects. The stream I was stand­ing in wasn’t very wide, but its geo­mor­phic struc­ture was incred­i­ble with a wall of bedrock on one side of the stream, and a mound of small rocks on the other side. It was a stun­ning place to spend a cou­ple days learn­ing and col­lect­ing data that will be use­ful for research and restora­tion projects in the future.

Neversink River - Bedrock wall

Nev­ersink River — Bedrock wall