Watershed Residents Rode the Rails with AWSMP and Rail Explorers

Posted on: September 13th, 2019 by Brent Gotsch
One of the many happy families participating the "Sunset Rail Pedal along the Esopus" program. Photo by Chet Karwatowski

One of the many happy families participating in the “Sunset Rail Pedal along the Esopus” program. Photo by Chet Karwatowski

 

Ashokan Watershed residents had the opportunity to experience the Esopus Creek like few others have before. On Thursday, September 12, participants came out to the Rail Explorers Catskill Division in Phoenicia to have the unique experience of riding a Rail Explorers rail car and also learn about the Esopus Creek. After some opening remarks from AWSMP and a safety talk from Rail Explorers, participants set out on the 8-mile round trip tour on railroad tracks that mostly parallel the Esopus Creek. During a regular Rail Explorers tour, participants make only one stop to turn the cars around for the return journey. AWSMP worked with Rail Explorers to find two additional stops so educators could talk about stream management topics.

Participants in the "Sunset Rail Pedal along the Esopus" listen to Aaron Bennett of the Ulster County Department of the Environment talk about flood mitigation actions occurring near the Route 28 Bridge (in background) in Mount Tremper. Photo by Chet Karwatowski

Participants in the “Sunset Rail Pedal along the Esopus” listen to Aaron Bennett of the Ulster County Department of the Environment talk about flood mitigation actions occurring near the Route 28 Bridge (in background) in Mount Tremper. Photo by Chet Karwatowski

 

The first stop was roughly across the the Route 28 Bridge in Mount Tremper where Aaron Bennett of the Ulster County Department of the Environment spoke about the flood mitigation activities going on there. He explained about how the NYS Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is working with the the Town of Shandaken to help make that area less susceptible to flooding. NYSDOT is replacing the Mount Tremper Bridge with a larger and wider span that will lower flood elevations in the area. To do this they are working with the Town of Shandaken and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) to acquire properties in that area so this project can be completed. The bridge is expected to be replaced beginning next year and be completed in 2021. The new bridge will be constructed immediately downstream of the old one so no detour will be necessary during construction.

Adam Doan of the Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District talks about stream assessment protocols during the "Sunset Rail Pedal along the Esopus" program.

Adam Doan of the Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District talks about stream assessment during the “Sunset Rail Pedal along the Esopus” program.

 

At the turnaround location, Adam Doan of the Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District spoke about the stream assessment work that AWSMP does. He explained how AWSMP technicians walk a stream and collect data and how that data is used to make management recommendations. He also talked about the Catskill Streams Buffer Initiative (CSBI) program and how qualifying landowners can access free native riparian plants to revegetate their streambanks. Adam described studies and restoration projects done in the Stony Clove Creek (a tributary to the Esopus Creek) to improve stream stability and water quality.

Adam Doan Presents along Esopus Creek

Adam Doan of the Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District talks about erosion, road-stream crossings, and the washout of the rail tracks during Tropical Storm Irene during the “Rail Pedal Along the Esopus” program.

 

On the return leg of the trip, both Adam and Aaron talked about the washout of the train tracks that occurred near the Phoenicia Plaza on Route 28 and the process of erosion. They explained the importance of good road-stream crossings and how AWSMP technicians have assessed public crossings in the watershed. They also mentioned the importance of wood in the floodplain and the habitat and stability that it provides to the stream.

Finally, at the end of the trip, participants were invited to a short reception at the nearby Empire State Railway Museum where each participant received a reusable tote bag and additional educational material.

This program was a part of Ashokan Watershed Month which continues throughout the month of September. Upcoming programs include a “Watershed Paddle” at Kenneth Wilson Campground and a Book Signing and Reading in Woodstock. Please visit out Ashokan Watershed Month webpage for additional information about this and other upcoming events.

Sunset over Esopus Creek

A sunset over the Esopus during the “Sunset Rail Pedal along the Esopus” program.

Share
Tags: , ,