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What's happening at GCSWCD? Take a look at our recent programs and see what we're up to this season.
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DISTRICT REMINDERS

  • Round 19 Stream Management Implementation Program (SMIP) Grant Applications due March 15th. The GCSWCD and Schoharie Watershed Advisory Committee (SWAC), in conjunction with NYCDEP, are seeking qualified applications for stream management implementation projects in the following categories: Education & Outreach, Highway & Infrastructure, Landowner Stream Assistance, Recreation and Habitat Enhancements, Planning and Assessment, and Flood Hazard Mitigation. For more information about this opportunity click here or contact Abbe at 518-622-3620.

  • Catskill Streams Buffer Initiative (CSBI) is accepting applications— Schoharie watershed landowners with property within a riparian buffer (streamside) area may be eligible to participate in the CSBI program. Participants of this program work with GCSWCD to develop a planting plan for 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 click here or contact Laura at 518-622-3620.
  • NYS Agricultural Assessment Program work will begin January 1, 2019. Through the Agricultural Districts law, property tax bills can be reduced for land used for agriculture. Eligible landowners must submit an Agricultural Assessment Application to their town assessor by the taxable status date. In most towns, this is March 1st, but it is suggested to check with each town assessor to confirm. GCSWCD will complete the first step in the application process by classifying all farmland that will be enrolled in the program by soil productivity. A soil map will be developed, along with the “Soil Group Worksheet,” which is used to define the acreage of each soil productivity group. For more information about the program or to have farmland classified by productivity click here or contact Michelle at 518-622-3620.

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SMIP Funding Available in Schoharie Watershed

STREAM MANAGEMENT IMPLEMENTATION PROGRAM UPDATE

The County Route 2 culvert replacement  (Little West Kill) is an example of a SMIP-funded project.
Schoharie Watershed—The Greene County Soil & Water Conservation District (GCSWCD), New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP), and Schoharie Watershed municipalities collaborate to provide the Stream Management Implementation Program (SMIP). This program offers funding for municipalities, streamside landowners, and organizations involved in stream stewardship that foster water quality protection and enhancement.  Comprehensive Stream Management Plans have been completed for the Schoharie Creek and major tributaries within the Schoharie Watershed. These plans provide recommendations and strategies for municipal officials, residents, and other interested parties to manage streams consistent with science-based principles. 
 
Through the Stream Management Implementation Program, a variety of projects may be funded in the following categories: Education & Outreach, Highway/Infrastructure, Recreation-based opportunities, Habitat Enhancements, Planning & Assessment, and Flood Hazard Mitigation (for more information on SMIP and funding categories visit our website at https://www.gcswcd.com/swp/smp/smip).
 
Example of a SMIP-funded project—The Stream Management Implementation Program (SMIP) provided partial funding to replace a culvert conveying flow from the Little West Kill under County Route 2 in the Town of Lexington. In 2016, during the stream feature inventory conducted along the Little West Kill, the GCSWCD identified the need to replace this culvert. The NYCDEP, GCSWCD and Greene County Highway Department worked together to design, fund and implement this project. The SWAC approved funding for the project in 2016 and construction was completed in 2017.
 
The alignment and condition of the previous structure caused stream flow and sediment to back-up, contributed to localized erosion and affected the quality of habitat and aquatic organism passage. 
 
The structure was replaced with a three-sided culvert that was appropriately sized to accommodate 100-year storm events. Thereby, improving road conditions and public safety during future flood events. The new culvert effectively conveys flow and provides adequate sediment transport capacity, while also improving fish and aquatic organism passage.   

CSBI Program works with Local Landowners to Improve Riparian Buffer along the West Kill

CATSKILL STREAMS BUFFER INITIATIVE UPDATE







Newly planted trees and shrubs on private land along the West Kill. Some tree species have tree tubes placed around them to assist with survival.
West Kill, NY—In October 2018, GCSWCD’s CSBI Coordinator, Laura Weyeneth, worked with local streamside landowners to install native trees and shrubs along a portion of their streambank that was vulnerable to erosion. 

In natural conditions, native grasses, shrubs and trees growing next to streams help prevent erosion and filter storm water runoff before it enters our waterways. Historic land uses or recent storms have removed these natural protective zones in some places. Without this protection, streambanks become unstable, erode, and can become a source of pollution.

This riparian buffer project, installed by GCSWCD staff in fall 2018, involved planting trees and shrubs in a streamside area that has been affected by several floods since 1999.


Since this property is used for personal recreation and outdoor activities, goals for the project included improved streambank stabilization and wildlife habitat, shading over stream, stream access, and to potentially minimize the risk of the loss of a structure on the property.

The site required mechanical removal of the invasive Japanese knotweed prior to planting. In total, 110 native trees and shrubs were planted in the upland area along the streambank. Tree tubes were placed around certain tree species to prevent deer browse and give them a chance to establish. Over the next five years, this site will be monitored for plant survival and growth, insect and deer predation, ground cover, and canopy cover.

If you own property along a stream in the Schoharie watershed and would be interested in having a riparian buffer planted on your property, please call Laura Weyeneth, CSBI Coordinator, at 518-622-3620 or e-mail laura@gcswcd.com for more information. 

Athens & Coxsackie Stream Crossing Prioritization Plans

DISTRICT UPDATE

(Left) Reference map for the Coxsackie Road-Stream Crossings.
(Right) This example of a road-stream crossing from another town shows how flow constriction can create a debris jam and an inlet drop on a round culvert.
Athens and Coxsackie, NY—This fall, GCSWCD, in cooperation with Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Columbia and Greene Counties and the Lower Hudson Coalition of Conservation Districts (LHCCD), developed road-stream crossing inventory documents for both the Town of Athens and the Town of Coxsackie.

To develop these inventories, the first step was to perform a road-stream crossing field assessment following the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative (NAACC) protocol. During the field assessment, observers took measurements of stream crossings. The shape, size, material, and how each crossing interacted with the stream and surrounding floodplain were recorded. Crossings were input into the NAACC database and evaluated based on their ability to pass water flow as well as allow for passage of aquatic and terrestrial wildlife.

Examples of notable barriers to passage include improperly sized and misaligned crossings. These issues can cause erosion, leading to streambank and road instability. They can also lead to high water velocities, elevation drops at the inlet or outlet, or limit the dry passage through the structure, creating a barrier for wildlife movement.

After the initial field assessment, the data from each crossing, 52 of which have been assessed in Athens and 58 in Coxsackie, were compiled into a document for each town. The inventory document recorded the results of flood risk models performed on select crossings in response to storm events. The information from the NAACC database, combined with the results of the hydrologic and hydraulic analyses, were used to create a preliminary prioritization of crossings which may require replacement to improve aquatic connectivity.

The inventories were made available to the towns of Athens and Coxsackie for review by the municipality and the local community. The content of the inventory will be discussed during a Prioritization Workshop. It is at this workshop that the local community will identity town-specific needs and recommendations. Local knowledge will be a valuable resource and will help make the most effective and efficient plans.

The goal of the prioritization is to develop a Road-Stream Crossing Management Plan for each town. The management plans would act as a reference and guide to crossing replacement, general maintenance, and response to future storm events. The plan is intended to lead to funding in locations where the town's maintenance and capacity concerns coincide with high passability priorities.

Stream Feature Inventories Completed on the West Kill and Gooseberry Creek

DISTRICT UPDATE

(Left) GCSWCD staff and interns collecting stream features on the West Kill.
(Right) An example of revetment on the left bank of the Gooseberry Creek.
During summer and fall 2018, GCSWCD staff, along with interns Peter Barron and Haley Keff, began conducting stream feature inventories on the West Kill and Gooseberry Creek. The stream feature inventory (SFI) is a field evaluation of the current condition of a stream and its surrounding riparian zone, which can be used for continued stream study and restoration project identification. 

WEST KILL SFI
West Kill’s SFI was previously conducted in 2004 and 2005. The findings of the 2018 West Kill SFI will be compiled into a report that classifies areas which will require continued evaluation or issues that must be addressed. Some of the common features recorded during the inventory included the presence of invasive species, active erosion, fine sediment, and revetment such as riprap, stacked rock walls, or log cribbing.

Over the course of the SFI, 11.4 of the 12.5 miles of stream were viewed and assessed. Through a combination of aerial imagery review and in-field evaluation, there was 7.2 acres of the invasive Japanese knotweed found within 300ft of the streambanks of the West Kill. It was discovered that there was approximately 6,934ft (1.3mi) of streambank that was eroding at the time of the walkover, some of which had little to no vegetation at the top of the bank. About 2,117ft (0.4mi) of fine sediments, such as clay, which can easily become suspended in water and degrade the water quality were found within the streambed and banks. Finally, there was around 19,600ft (3.7mi) of revetment present on the West Kill, though just over 500ft (0.1mi) was rated as being in poor condition or not functional. 

A vegetated riparian corridor is important because it increases the stability of the bank and can reduce the impact of erosion. Bank stabilization can occur because the rooting structure of native trees and shrubs intertwine and help to hold soil in place. Additionally, planting native willow along the bank toe can also slow down passing water, reducing its ability to erode the bottom of the bank.

GOOSEBERRY CREEK SFI
Despite the heavy rainfall experienced over the summer months, the West Kill SFI was finished quicker than anticipated. This allowed GCSWCD staff and interns to conduct an additional SFI on the Gooseberry Creek. This was the first SFI conducted on the Gooseberry Creek, a tributary running through Tannersville into the Schoharie Creek. By conducting SFIs on tributaries to the main streams, we can monitor for issues that may affect the watershed and local communities on a finer scale.

The Gooseberry Creek SFI covered 3.6 of the 4.1 mile stream. Though post processing of the data collected during the SFI is still being completed, it was found that approximately 1.7 acres of Japanese knotweed was present within 300ft of the streambanks. Continued analysis of data collected will inform GCSWCD of stream health and potential management needs.

Staff Spotlight: Recognizing 20 Years at GCSWCD

DISTRICT UPDATE




Joel DuBois, Conservation District Program Specialist, during the 2018 field season, participating in the West Kill SFI.
Cairo, NY—August 2018 marked Joel DuBois’s 20th year anniversary with the Greene County Soil & Water Conservation District. Joel currently works as a Conservation District Program Specialist with GCSWCD.

Prior to joining the District, Joel received his B.S. degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Buffalo. He then completed an Americorps term at GCSWCD from 1997-1998. When he received an offer to work for the District, he was excited to have a job in his field and to be able to return to Greene County after a brief time living in Alaska.

Over time, Joel’s role at GCSWCD has changed. In the beginning, his work was mostly focused on field work, initial watershed assessments, and management plans. More recently, his work has been more project-based and he is responsible for oversight of project implementation.

Looking back, he is most excited of the long career he has held at GCSWCD doing work that is beneficial to both Greene County and the environment. He is most proud of the restoration projects the District has put together during his time here and he is glad that he was able to be here for the challenge of recovering from the devastating flooding that resulted from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

The staff at GCSWCD congratulate Joel on his 20 years with the District!
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