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Return of the GCSWCD Newsletter!

After a two-year hiatus, our biannual newsletter has returned! In October 2022, we offered the community the opportunity to help us name our newsletter, via social media. Voters had to choose between "The Stream Line", "The Run Off", and "Water Wise". In the end, with 24 votes, the "The Stream Line" was the big winner. "The Run Off" came in with 19 votes and "Water Wise" ended with 8. 

Below are abbreviated versions of the articles found in the Winter 2022 edition of The Stream Line, the full publication can be found here

Many thanks to all who participated in the vote, and thank YOU for reading!

Largest Restoration Project in SMP History:
Moving Right Along

Aerial view of the completed portions of the Red Falls stream restoration (Projects 1 & 2).

In the late 1990's, the Batavia Kill was identified as the leader in high turbidity (cloudy) conditions in the Schoharie Reservoir watershed. Subsequent stream assessments prioritized management of the Red Falls reach (in the Towns of Ashland and Prattsville) of the Batavia Kill, based on the instability of the stream channel and excessive erosion of the surrounding hillslopes that are made of a high percentage of silt and clay.

It is estimated that, between 2005 and 2017, over 51,000 cubic yards of fine-grained material eroded from those hillslopes - that’s equivalent to over 3,000 dump truck loads! This significant level of fine sediment being loaded into the water has impacted water quality and biological functions of the river system.

In response to these conditions, project landowners, NYC DEP, and GCSWCD initiated a stream restoration project of the Red Falls reach using the Natural Channel Design (NCD) approach, which incorporates consideration of both stream form and process. Red Falls is one of the largest and most complex stream segments to be addressed by the Stream Management Program to date – exceeding 6,000 feet in length and including multiple large hillslope failures. Due to its size and complexity, the project was divided into four manageable project reaches - two of which have been completed to date.

While the project is currently in its third year of construction in 2022, it is expected that the goals of reducing erosion and fine sediment loading to the system will be met – ultimately reducing land loss, improving the aesthetic and biological values of the stream channel, and protecting water quality.     

Aerial view of the Red Falls reach showing Projects 1 & 2 in green (completed between 2020 and 2022) and Projects 3 & 4 (to be completed between 2023 and 2024) in blue.

A Complete Inventory for Manor Kill 

                           Field assessment crew on a bedrock section of the Manor Kill.

This year’s field season was heavily focused on completing a multi-faceted assessment of the Manor Kill watershed. The mainstem of the Manor Kill begins just west of Bates State Forest, flows southwest, and ultimately drains directly into the Schoharie Reservoir near the Conesville/Gilboa town boundary. Our field assessment crew successfully gathered a robust set of data that adds to a nearly 15-year effort to monitor the 11-mile stream and its watershed. Prior to this year, work in the Watershed included:
  • a Stream Feature Inventory (SFI; an in-stream assessment which starts at the headwaters of a stream and continues all way down to the mouth) completed by Greene and Schoharie County Soil & Water Conservation District staff and project partners at NYC DEP in 2008 - resulting in the publication of the Manor Kill Stream Management Plan in 2009; and
  • a Local Flood Analysis (LFA) in 2017 which led to the restoration of 610 linear feet of floodplain being restored in order to improve floodplain connectivity and reduce localized flooding.

The 2022 assessment included collecting GPS data (e.g. locations of fine sediment sources, areas of significant erosion, beaver dams, changes in channel morphology, etc) for the second SFI, and using the MOSCAP to assess the publically-owned culverts and bridges within the Watershed. MOSCAP was developed between 2017 and 2020 by the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program (AWSMP) as a way to prioritize needs for road-stream crossing structures based on geomorphic compatibility, aquatic organism passage, and structural condition. GCSWCD staff attended the AWSMP MOSCAP training in May of 2022; and the 22 crossing assessed in the Manor Kill watershed are the first in the Schoharie Reservoir watershed to be assessed using the protocol. Data collected this year will support the development of updated management reports and recommendations. The comparison of current conditions to those observed in previous studies will help further enhance our understanding of the Manor Kill, and identify how – and if – the stream has shifted over time.

Culvert Replacement
Brings Hazard Reduction to Rappleyea Road

Before being replaced this past summer, a small unnamed tributary to Schoharie Creek flowed underneath Rappleyea Rd. (Town of Lexington) through a concrete culvert pipe. The culvert was flagged for replacement by GCSWCD due to its deteriorated condition and lack of hydraulic capacity (ability to accommodate the natural stream flow). The single culvert at this site measured 21 feet long and 5 feet in diameter, which undersized for this stream. As a result of being undersized, backwatering was regularly observed at this site. Backwatering (when water pools up at the inlet) is particularly hazardous on Rappleyea Rd because it is a dead end road, so any road closures would limit the accessibility of emergency responders to several homes beyond the location of the culvert.   

Given the condition of the structure and the related hazards to human life, the Town of Lexington submitted applications for funding through the Stream Management Implementation Program (under the “Highway & Infrastructure” category) to design and construct a replacement. In 2020, the Town was awarded $50,000 for the design development, and then $200,000 for design implementation in 2021. The design to correct the hydraulic capacity issues was created by evaluating the hydrology, hydraulics, soil characteristics, and topography to determine the appropriate culvert size, inlet and outlet protection, and size and depth of footings.

The resulting project involved the installation of a wider and longer culvert pipe. The larger culvert dimensions allows for a more gradual roadway embankment slope, increased stream stability and hydraulic capacity during large storm events – reducing the risk of road closure. The increased culvert length will allow for more gradual roadway embankment slopes. The streambed was reconstructed to accommodate the increased culvert length and to reduce scour during high flow events. Additionally, stone check dams were installed both upstream and downstream of the culvert to reduce flow velocity.


Rappleyea Rd. culvert: before   Rappleyea Rd. culvert: during construction   Rappleyea Rd. culvert: after

Stabilizing Windham Path

Windham Path: before     Windham Path: after  

Windham Path is a 1.5 mile scenic recreational trail in the Town of Windham, with sections running along the Batavia Kill. In 2020, due to the active retreat of the stream bank, the Town of Windham applied for funding though the Stream Management Implementation Program (SMIP) to design a project that would stabilize the undermined bank, mitigate user safety concerns, and protect the recreational infrastructure. Additional long-term objectives included reduction of fine sediment supply loading to the stream (a drinking water source and trout fishery) and improvement of the resiliency of the Windham Path to future flood events.

The resulting project was designed to correct the existing instability by evaluating the hydrology, hydraulics, soil characteristics, and topography to determine the appropriate rock size, thickness of stone covering, depth of stone footings, extent of stone protection, and proposed bank and channel geometry. Through SMIP, the Town was awarded $50,000 for project design in 2020, and $200,000 for construction in 2021.  The project ultimately consisted of the installation of 300 linear feet of rock revetment with live willow stakes to stabilize the stream bank, drainage swale improvements, reconstruction of approximately 240 feet of the path, and installation of a split rail fence. 

Construction began in September 2021 with final completion in June 2022. The project is expected to have a positive impact on water quality by preventing erosion and entrainment of fine sediment particles, including colloidal clay, to the Batavia Kill and ultimately the Schoharie Reservoir.

HBRT Phase 5 Complete

The Hunter Area Trail Coalition (HATC) is pleased to announce the completion of Phase 5 of the Hunter Branch Rail Trail (HBRT)!  At just under a mile in length, the Phase 5 section of the trail is the former northern terminus of the Hunter Branch of the Stony Clove and Catskill Mountain Railroad, which was discontinued in 1939. 

The completion of Phase 5 includes the installation of a 90 foot long, prefabricated truss bridge where the railroad was once carried over a small Schoharie Creek tributary – to that end, a section of the original stone abutments has been left in place for visitors to appreciate the efforts of early railroad workers. 
During its peak in the late 1880s and early 1900’s, the trains would run from Kingston and bring visitors to local hotels such as Catskill Mountain House and Hotel Kaaterskill. Today, the HBRT will serve as an essential link in the HATC’s plan to connect communities and Main Street businesses through a network of multi-use trails that strengthen the communities’ sense of place, disperse hikers from “hot spots”, and foster an appreciation of the outdoors.

The HATC represents local government; state, city, and county agencies; as well as local nonprofits, and was formed in 2016 to coordinate trail projects that enhance hiking opportunities across the Town of Hunter. Together, the Coalition was successful in raising $230,000 from NYSDEC, the GCSWCD Stream Management Implementation Program, and private donors including the Luke Patterson Memorial Fund. Funds were allocated to engineering services, construction, and installation of the pedestrian truss bridge.
Keep an eye out for more information and we’ll see you on the trail for the official opening on Celebrate Trails Day / Earth Day (April 22,2023)!

                             HBRT bridge and planting site

Rare Bumble Bee Sighting
Sparks New Collaboration

American bumble bee on an aster. Photo by J. CarchidiEvery year since 2019, Jennifer Carchidi has gone hunting for bumble bee observations in and around Greene County, and she’s became particularly drawn to a most unexpected location – a pull off between Schoharie Creek and 23A in the Town of Jewett. “I found many species of bumbles there. It became a sort of bumble bee hotspot. Of all the places I’ve hunted bumbles, all over the country (and even Canada), this spot had the most diversity and sheer numbers”, she says. Jennifer began visiting this site every spring, summer, and fall to see who she might encounter.

In September 2021, Jennifer and her husband, Bill, stopped for their last hunt of the year and were excited to come across the gyne (new queen that will breed in the fall, overwinter, and start a new colony in the spring) of the American bumble bee (Bombus pensylvanicus)! American bumble bees are vital pollinators that have completely vanished from eight states – with populations down 50% in the Midwest and Southeast and 99% in New York (Smithsonian Magazine). This 2021 observation was one of only two in the whole state (the other was observed on Governor’s Island), and is the first for the area in approximately 2-3 decades. Yet, despite these dwindling numbers, the American bumble bee has not been protected under any state or federal law. And so, Jennifer took matters into her own hands and contacted the NYS Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) – the owners of the pull off – to see if anything could be done to improve habitat conditions at the site.

NYSDOT’s Region 1 office was quick to respond in developing a concept for converting the large area of mowed grass to a native pollinator habitat, contacting the Catskill Streams Buffer Initiative at GCSWCD for technical assistance, and securing funding for project implementation. The project involved tilling; seeding with a special wildflower seed mix for bees; planting 225 native shrubs and other small, flowering, pollinator-friendly plants; and installing pollinator signage to educate the public on the importance of — and the reason for — the project. On Arbor Day 2022, NYSDOT and GCSWCD staff were joined by Jennifer for project installation.

“Marian [Tompkins] and many other [NYS] DOT employees, and Greene County Soil and Water have all been so amazing. The intent is to offer these bumbles more native plants from which to choose over all the seasons and maybe even offer some potential nesting sites”, reported Jennifer.

This collaboration between a self-proclaimed insect enthusiast, NYSDOT, and GCSWCD is a true testament to the importance of community science – hats off to you, Jennifer!

Reuniting with Volunteers

On November 5th, volunteers joined GCSWCD staff for the first volunteer planting day since 2016! Organized in collaboration with the Catskill Mountains chapter of Trout Unlimited, the morning was a huge success – ending with nearly 300 native trees and shrubs being planted on the right bank of the East Kill.

At this location (where the East Kill flows along County Route 17 in the Town of Jewett) the road and embankment were severely damaged during the rain-on-snow flood event of Christmas 2020 – cutting off emergency responder access to one of the main north/south travel corridors in the area. Following the reconstruction and improvement of the highway infrastructure, the stream channel was modified to ensure stability and mitigate flood-related hazards in the future.
Once established, the trees and shrubs that were planted on the freshly built banks (over 700 in total between the left and right banks) will further stabilize them by adding resistance to erosion. Three cheers to our volunteers for taking time out of their weekends to help us complete such an important project!

Trout Unlimited volunteers with GCSWCD staff

Bon Voyage to Kylie Shaw

                Kylie Shaw measuring the height of a tree while monitoring a CSBI planting site

This past November marked the end of the term for this year’s Stream Stewardship Assistant (Student Conservation Association intern), Kylie Shaw. Kylie graduated Ohio Wesleyan University with Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology and Environmental Science in 2019. During Kylie’s term she assisted in:

  • mapping over 225 stream miles – and several project sites – around Greene County and the Schoharie Reservoir watershed;
  • conducting the 2023 Stream Feature Inventory of the Manor Kill, and assessing road-stream crossings (bridges and culverts) within the Manor Kill watershed;
  • working on nine of the Catskill Streams Buffer Initiative’s (CSBI) 2022 planting projects – including a bee garden planting in Jewett (through partnership with the NYS Department of Transportation);
  • monitoring and writing reports for previous CSBI planting projects to assess planting success; and
  • connecting with the community through events at Bear Mountain Zoo, the Greene County Youth Fair, and CCE’s Environmental Awareness Days, teaching the importance of watershed management.

When asked to comment on her experience, Kylie said, “I’ve loved having this opportunity to learn about and work in the Schoharie Reservoir watershed. It’s a beautiful area and I’m proud to have played any small part in keeping it that way. After my term with GCSWCD, I’m looking to use the experience I’ve gained with this job with my biology experience and work with aquatic ecology, either in a professional role or in graduate school. With whatever I do next, I’m excited to continue working with conservation and restoration in the mountains of the Northeast.”

Thank you for all of tremendous contributions to our program, Kylie! We wish you the best of luck on your next adventures!

District Reminders

  • GCSWCD staff are now accepting requests for assistance with the 2023 agricultural assessment applications. Under the Agricultural Districts Law (1971), landowners may submit an application (available at the local assessor’s office) to reduce property tax bills for land used in agricultural production. Property eligibility is determined by the local assessor or board of assessors where the application is filed. 
    To begin the application process, our District Technician will develop your soil maps and Soil Group Worksheets (Form APD-1) to classify the farmland by soil productivity. The applicant must then transfer the soil information to the Agricultural Assessment Application (Form RP-305) and submit the completed Form RP-305, along with copies of the completed Form APD-1 and the soil map to the assessor by March 1st.

    To learn more about the agricultural assessment program and GCSWCD’s role in the application process, please contact Michelle McDonough by email: or by phone: (518) 622-3620. You may also submit an assistance request form through this link.
  • GCSWCD and the Schoharie Watershed Advisory Committee (SWAC), in conjunction with the NYC DEP, are seeking qualified applications for funding through the Stream Management Implementation Program (SMIP).The SMIP is a reimbursement-based grant opportunity that offers funding to implement projects and programs that serve to protect water quality within the Schoharie Reservoir watershed. Applications are due March 15th! All applicants are encouraged to contact SWSMP staff to discuss project ideas prior to submission. For more information visit: or email
  • GCSWCD staff are available to provide free classroom or after-school visits to schools within Greene County and the Schoharie Reservoir watershed. We have three scientific models available for demonstration: the Augmented Reality Sandbox, EnviroScape Watershed, and Ward’s Science Stormwater Floodplain models. Programs can be designed to suit class needs and can be adapted for all students, grades K-12.To schedule a visit, please call (518)622-3620 or email
  • Landowners with streamside property located within the Schoharie Reservoir watershed can request a site visit to have a streamside assessment and learn more about restoration opportunities through the Catskill Streams Buffer Initiative (CSBI). Participants of this program work with GCSWCD to develop a planting plan to enhance or restore their riparian buffer with native trees and flowering shrubs along the stream to improve wildlife habitat and help protect streambanks from erosion during future storm events. For more information visit: or email
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