Posts Tagged ‘Streams’

Register for Toddlers and Tributaries

Posted on: July 27th, 2022 by Leslie_Zucker

Join AWSMP for our 2022 Toddlers & Tributaries event! This event is designed for children ages 18 months to 5 years old. As a part of our program, participants will engage in watershed science-based activities and crafts in a safe, controlled outdoor setting.

The event takes place on Monday, August 15th 2022 from 9am-11am and is free of charge. It will be held at the Kenneth L. Wilson Campground located at 859 Wittenberg Rd, Mt Tremper, NY.

This event is open to residents of the Ashokan Watershed. Generally, the Ashokan Watershed overlaps the towns of Shandaken, Olive, Woodstock, and Hurley in Ulster County, and Lexington and Hunter in Greene County.

  • Parents/guardians and children must wear close-toed shoes as gear will not be available for use. 
  • Parents/guardians must always be within arm’s reach of their child for the duration of this event.
  • Parents/guardians must comply to a 1-1 ratio between children and parents/guardians if they plan on bringing additional children.

Registration for this event is required. Please visit to register!

AWSMP Hosts a Multi-Objective Stream Crossing Assessment Protocol (MOSCAP) Training

Posted on: June 13th, 2022 by Tim Koch

Here at AWSMP, the stream becomes a classroom where information flows freely.

On May 23 – 26, CCE Educator Tim Koch led a multi-day training on the Multi-Objective Stream Crossing Assessment Protocol (MOSCAP), a unique culvert and bridge assessment methodology developed and piloted in the Ashokan Reservoir watershed. Fourteen participants from county, regional, and state agencies learned field methods that integrate geomorphic compatibility, aquatic organism passage, and structural condition into culvert and bridge assessments.

MOSCAP training attendees assessing a culvert on an unnamed tributary of the Little Beaver Kill. MOSCAP surveys simultaneously assess geomorphic compatibility, structural condition, and aquatic organism passage.

To apply these methods, the class waded into streams at road-crossing locations, working their way through an entire MOSCAP field assessment at several sites. The assessments included measuring structure dimensions and making observations about stream channel and floodplain conditions. Data collected in the field are used to prioritize the road-stream crossings that would have the greatest positive impact if replaced. This includes improvements to stream channel stability, structural resilience, and improved upstream passage for aquatic and riparian organisms.

Trainees measured the active width of the stream channel and make observations about the size and distribution of sediment as part of a MOSCAP assessment.

The skills learned in this training will help area professionals assess and maintain road crossings over streams while protecting water quality, habitat, and building resilience to floods.

Another MOSCAP field methods training is being planned for later this year, and MOSCAP training documents are currently available upon request. Contact Tim Koch by email at

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


     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.

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.


Dining Out on Ashokan Streams

Posted on: June 10th, 2020 by Leslie_Zucker

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.

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

Leprechaun Bees in Search of Native Plant Gold!

Posted on: March 23rd, 2018 by Leslie_Zucker

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!


Stream Explorers, Register Now!

Posted on: March 19th, 2018 by Leslie_Zucker

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!

National Invasive Species Awareness Week – Emerald Ash Borer

Posted on: February 28th, 2018 by Leslie_Zucker

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!

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