Posts Tagged ‘Streams’

How Antecedent Moisture Conditions Impact Flooding

Posted on: August 4th, 2020 by Tim Koch

The amount of pre­cip­i­ta­tion that falls dur­ing a storm obvi­ously has an impact on the flood dynam­ics of rivers and streams. When it rains a lot, rivers and streams can flood dra­mat­i­cally. Flood­ing from Trop­i­cal Storm Irene in 2011 is an all too famil­iar example.

Flooding in Boiceville as a results of Tropical Storm Irene

Flood­ing in Boiceville as a results of Trop­i­cal Storm Irene

Another impor­tant but less well known influ­ence on flood­ing is the antecedent mois­ture con­di­tion.

To under­stand what antecedent mois­ture con­di­tion is and how it impacts floods we need to briefly dis­cuss the water bal­ance:

     P = RO + ET + ΔS

where,

     P = pre­cip­i­ta­tion,
     RO = runoff,
     ET = evap­o­tran­spi­ra­tion, and
     ΔS = change in ground­wa­ter or soil storage.

This gen­er­al­ized equa­tion is say­ing that all the water that falls as rain either (1) runs off the sur­face and becomes flow in a stream, (2) is evap­o­rated or tran­spired (i.e., used by plants), or (3) is stored in the ground, often in the pore spaces between soil particles.

Soil can be thought of as a giant sponge that can absorb large amounts of water. Antecedent mois­ture con­di­tion is how wet or dry that soil stor­age sponge is when it starts to rain.

If the soil stor­age sponge is already sat­u­rated before the storm hits, only a small per­cent­age of the rain­fall can be absorbed, mean­ing a large por­tion of the rain­fall total will become runoff. For exam­ple, prior to TS Irene in 2011 the antecedent mois­ture con­di­tion was rel­a­tively high, as can be seen in the stream gage hydro­graph at Allaben (below). The orange tri­an­gles rep­re­sent the aver­age flow for that day (approx 20-30cfs). In the week lead­ing up to Irene, flow in the Eso­pus Creek was well above aver­age (blue line, 100–200 cfs), indi­cat­ing that soil mois­ture lev­els were already high when the storm hit.

Hydrograph of Esopus Creek at Allaben prior to TS Irene in 2011.

Hydro­graph of Eso­pus Creek at Allaben prior to TS Irene in 2011.

Con­versely, if the soil stor­age sponge is mostly dry when the storm hits a larger per­cent­age of the pre­cip­i­ta­tion can poten­tially be absorbed, or stored in the soil sponge rather that becom­ing runoff.  Less runoff can some­times mean less dra­matic flooding.

Today, as we await the arrival of Trop­i­cal Storm Isa­ias, antecedent mois­ture con­di­tions are rel­a­tively low, with flow in the Eso­pus at Allaben hov­er­ing near the approx­i­mate aver­age value for early August (20–30 cfs), far less than what it was prior to Irene. There is more room for water in the sponge.

Antecedent moisture conditions prior to the arrival of TS Isaias.

Antecedent mois­ture con­di­tions prior to the arrival of TS Isaias.

This does not mean that flood­ing can’t hap­pen when antecedent mois­ture con­di­tions are low. Even with a dry soil stor­age sponge, the rate of pre­cip­i­ta­tion is also an incred­i­bly impor­tant com­po­nent of flood dynam­ics. If rain falls faster than it can infil­trate into the soil, water will run off regard­less of antecedent mois­ture con­di­tions, which can cause dam­ag­ing flash floods.

The soil stor­age sponge also has a lim­ited capac­ity and can become sat­u­rated quickly.

Please refer to our recent post on the Flash Flood Watch issued for the Ashokan Water­shed for infor­ma­tion on how to pre­pare for a flood.

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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.

 

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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.

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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 info@ashokanstreams.org.

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Leprechaun Bees in Search of Native Plant Gold!

Posted on: March 23rd, 2018 by Samantha Kahl

It’s spring now and because St. Patrick’s Day just passed, we are tak­ing a look at one of nature’s small­est lep­rechauns.… Augochlorop­sis metal­lica, a type of Sweat Bee. Native and metal­lic green, metal­lica is smaller than a Honey Bee!

Augochloropsis metallica (head)

Augochlorop­sis metal­lica (head)

Since these bees are so small, it takes a keen eye to spot them. Augo­chorop­sis metal­lica is found through­out the United States, from Ontario to Florida, and as far west as Ari­zona! They are usu­ally around from March until Novem­ber, with their flu­o­res­cent emer­ald green bod­ies shim­mer­ing in the daylight.

Augochloropsis metallica (back)

Augochlorop­sis metal­lica (back)

Augochloropsis metallica (side)

Augochlorop­sis metal­lica (side)

These beau­ti­fully tiny native bees have been sighted in two loca­tions around the Ashokan Water­shed, Stony Clove Creek in Greene County, and in Oliv­erea of Ulster County! What makes this bee so spe­cial is that it plays a cru­cial role in pol­li­nat­ing our native plants, pro­vid­ing a fight­ing chance for our native plant species to stand up against inva­sive plant species.

A zoomed-in focus of Augochloropsis metallica sightings!  Note:  Stony Clove Creek & Oliverea!

A zoomed-in focus of Augochlorop­sis metal­lica sight­ings! Note: Stony Clove Creek & Oliverea!

If you want to try and see the emer­ald metal­lica bee, make sure to plant native plants in and around your yard!

To pur­chase your plants locally, the Ulster County Soil and Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict will be hold­ing their annual Bare Root Seedling Sale in April! Orders must be placed by Fri­day, March 30th using this order form, with pick-up dates being held on Wednes­day April 18th at Ulster County Fair­grounds in New Paltz and Fri­day April 20th at Ulster County Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works in Kingston. If you miss the dead­line, left-over sin­gle stem stock is usu­ally avail­able for walk-up pur­chase at the two loca­tions listed above.

Happy plant­ing, and thank you for sup­port­ing the bees!

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Stream Explorers, Register Now!

Posted on: March 19th, 2018 by Samantha Kahl

Stream Explor­ers of the Ashokan Water­shed, Grades 3 through 7, are invited to take part in this year’s Stream Explor­ers Youth Adven­ture on Sat­ur­day, April 14th! The Youth Adven­ture will run from 8:30am to 4:30pm at the Ashokan Cen­ter in Olive­bridge, NY. Stream Explor­ers can expect to enjoy a fun-filled, action-packed day in the out­doors learn­ing about how streams work, inves­ti­gat­ing stream ecosys­tems, and learn­ing to use sci­ence tools to assess stream health! A hearty lunch, as well as morn­ing and after­noon snacks will be provided.

The Early­bird reg­is­tra­tion dead­line has ended, but reg­u­lar reg­is­tra­tion is still available.

Space is lim­ited, so don’t delay!

Reg­is­ter by April 6th here and check out our brochure for more information!

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National Invasive Species Awareness Week — Emerald Ash Borer

Posted on: February 28th, 2018 by Samantha Kahl

Happy Wednes­day! On this third day of National Inva­sive Species Aware­ness Week, we’re tak­ing a closer look at the Emer­ald Ash Borer (EAB).

Accord­ing to the NYS DEC, The EAB is a bee­tle from Asia that was first found in Michi­gan in 2002. Sadly, the EAB infests and even­tu­ally kills North Amer­i­can Ash tree species, mak­ing every native Ash tree sus­cep­ti­ble to infestation.

Let’s get a closer look!

The EAB is very small, mea­sur­ing, at most, 0.5 inches long and 0.125 inches wide. The adults have a shim­mer­ing emer­ald green body with a cop­per or pur­ple abdomen on it’s under­side. You’ll often see these pests from May through Sep­tem­ber, but their prime activ­ity months are June and July. If you pass by an Ash tree, you will most likely see D-shaped exit holes in the branches and trunk of trees. Other signs of infec­tion include the yel­low­ing and brown­ing of tree leaves and less tree canopy present. Within 2 to 4 years, the Ash trees will suc­cumb to the EAB infestation.

ID the Emerald Ash Borer. photo courtesy of NYIS

ID the Emer­ald Ash Borer.
photo cour­tesy of NYIS

Emerald Ash Borer Larva inside an Ash tree. photo courtesy of Emerald Ash Borer Information Network

Emer­ald Ash Borer Larva inside an Ash tree.
photo cour­tesy of Emer­ald Ash Borer Infor­ma­tion Network

Emerald Ash Borer Damage to an Ash tree. photo courtesy of Woodworking Network

Emer­ald Ash Borer Dam­age to an Ash tree.
photo cour­tesy of Wood­work­ing Network

The EAB is found through­out the East­ern to Cen­tral United States and East­ern Canada. In New York, the first infes­ta­tion of EAB was sighted in Cat­ta­rau­gus County in 2009. It then spread to the Hud­son River Val­ley, and con­tin­ued on to more than 30 coun­ties. Infes­ta­tions were most recently found in Franklin and St. Lawrence Coun­ties in 2017.

Map of Emerald Ash Borer Locations. courtesy of NYS DEC

Map of Emer­ald Ash Borer Loca­tions.
cour­tesy of NYS DEC

 What can you do?

Review this EAB Early Detec­tion Brochure. If you believe you have an Emer­ald Ash Borer infes­ta­tion and are out­side of the known infes­ta­tion areas, call the Depart­ment of For­est Health Infor­ma­tion line (1–866-640‑0652).


 

Keep up with us this week in honor of National Inva­sive Species Aware­ness Week and check back tomor­row to learn about a dif­fer­ent Inva­sive Species!

Check us out on Face­bookTwit­ter, and Insta­gram

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