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!

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