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District updates, information about upcoming events, and more news.
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DISTRICT REMINDERS

  • Bare Root Tree & Shrub Sale orders due by April 10th—For more information, or to download an order form, click here. For questions, please contact the main office at  518-622-3620.
 
  • Round 21 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. For more information about this opportunity, click here or contact 518-622-3620.
 
  • NYS Agricultural Assessment Program work began January 1, 2020. 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 by e-mail or phone (518-622-3620).
     
  • Catskill Streams Buffer Initiative (CSBI) is accepting applications from streamside landowners — Would you be interested in having some native trees and shrubs installed next to the stream on your property? Schoharie Watershed landowners with streamside property can request a site visit to have a streamside assessment and learn more about restoration opportunities through 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, click here or contact Laura by e-mail or phone (518-622-3620).
 
  • Upcoming Streamside Landowner Workshop on March 18th - GCSWCD is offering a FREE workshop highlighting the importance of riparian (streamside) buffers to water quality, wildlife habitat, and healthy streams. This workshop will be held at the Mountain Top Library (6093 Main Street, Tannersville, NY 12485) on Wednesday, March 18th, from 4:30pm-6:00pm. Snow date for Wednesday, March 25th. For more information, or to register, contact Laura by e-mail or phone (518-622-3620).

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East Kill Stream Restoration Project in Jewett

Hillslope erosion prior to construction (left). Stabilized hillslope after construction (right).
Jewett, NY— This past summer and fall, GCSWCD completed a stream restoration project on the East Kill in the Town of Jewett. The restoration included structural, bioengineering, and revegetation components to reduce hillslope erosion and decrease fine sediment inputs into the East Kill. The East Kill is a tributary to the Schoharie Reservoir, part of the New York City drinking water supply.
 
The project location was identified in the 2007 East Kill Stream Management Plan (SMP) as a priority site which contributed to water quality impairment. The SMP noted that the eroding hillslope contained clay which increased turbidity, or cloudiness, in the water. Turbidity can degrade fish habitat and the individual soil particles can transport pollutants and pathogens which is a serious threat to a drinking water supply.
 
This project site experienced extensive erosion during Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011. The floods worsened the instability of the hillslope, as well as the turbidity at this site. This site was monitored until the project was completed this year.
 
This past summer, approximately 600 feet of the East Kill was regraded and rip rap revetment was installed on the freshly graded streambanks. Willow stakes were planted between the rocks.
 
To increase the structural stability and function of the stream, wood was incorporated within the streambank. Root wads are a stream stabilization technique using large wood, inserted in the streambank below the water surface, with the root ball of the tree protecting the streambank. The root wad redirects flow from the bank, decreasing the chance of erosion. This technique also provided fish habitat in the locations where they were installed.
 
Along with the structural components of the restoration, bioengineering was completed. Three rows of willow fascines, a total of 850 feet, were installed in front of the eroding hillslope. Additionally, nearly 1,500 willow stakes were placed at the top of the bank. Willow is a native shrub which thrives in wet areas, has a rapid growth rate, and reproduces prolifically. The willow can reproduce from live cuttings, making it ideal for streambank restoration and revegetation.
 
The final step in the restoration project was revegetating the riparian areas with 1,000 native trees and shrubs. Tree tubes were installed on the tree species to prevent deer browse and increase the chance of survival.
 
Funding for this project was provided by the Schoharie Watershed Stream Management Implementation Program (SMIP), a collaborative program between GCSWCD, New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP), and the Schoharie Reservoir drainage basin municipalities.

Kaaterskill United Methodist Church Stormwater Project

One of the newly planted rain gardens is located in front of the Kaaterskill United Methodist Church.
Tannersville, NY—The Kaaterskill United Methodist Church (KUMC) and the GCSWCD worked together to develop a plan to implement stormwater practices at the KUMC. These practices were designed to measurably improve water quality and reduce and attenuate stormwater quantity from the KUMC drainage.

The fundamental project goal was to have an overall increase in water quality by providing point and non-point source mitigation from the impacts of pollutants associated with stormwater runoff from the site.

The project involved the installation of a gutter system, an aboveground cistern to capture the runoff and serve as a water source for the community garden, and two rain gardens to provide stormwater filtration and infiltration.

The gutter system and the aboveground cistern comprise the rooftop rain harvesting component of the project. The gutter system was installed on the existing building and captures rooftop runoff and delivers it to the cistern and rain gardens. The aboveground cistern is able to capture and store up to 1,000 gallons of stormwater runoff to be used for garden irrigation systems during the summer months. Stormwater runoff from larger storm events will either be stored or bypassed to an adjacent rain garden when the system is at capacity or during winter months.

In addition to the rain harvesting component, rain gardens were also used as a stormwater management practice at this site. The rain gardens are designed to promote infiltration, which will reduce stormwater runoff volumes. Runoff from larger storm events will bypass the rain gardens safely through outlet structures that lead to storm drainage systems.

The plantings for the rain gardens were designed in collaboration with a professor of landscape architecture at Cornell University. Members of the KUMC assisted GCSWCD with the installation of the plants.

Project partners include KUMC members, GCSWCD, and New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) Stream Management Program. Project funding was provided by the Stream Management Implementation Program (SMIP). The Schoharie Watershed SMIP is a collaborative program between GCSWCD, NYCDEP, and Schoharie Reservoir drainage basin municipalities.

Culvert Replacement Project on County Route 2

The original culvert on County Route 2 prior to replacement (left). The replacement box culvert after construction (right).
Lexington, NY— A culvert replacement project was completed in fall 2019 on an unnamed tributary to the Little West Kill in the Town of Lexington. The culvert, located on County Route 2, was previously undersized and in poor condition.

The long-term objective of the project was to improve the resiliency of Greene County’s transportation infrastructure to future flood events while also reducing the impacts of the transportation system on the stability and ecological integrity of the county’s waterways. Specific project goals included the improvement of road stability, flow conveyance, sediment transport continuity, habitat connectivity, and aquatic organism passage.

The existing structure was limited in the amount of water that it was capable of conveying, which resulted in streambed instability upstream and downstream of the structure. The results of a hydraulic assessment showed that the existing culvert was capable of accommodating 2-year storm events, but any larger storm events would cause streamflow to overtop the structure. By increasing the flow conveyance with the replacement structure, there should be a reduction in the frequency of backwater, a lessening of streambank instability near the culvert, and a better chance of accommodating large storm events without overtopping the road.

The new box culvert also resulted in a structure with fewer impacts to habitat connectivity and aquatic organism passage. This structure allows for natural substrate on the bottom of the culvert as well as a wider opening for animals passing through the structure.

This project involved the collaboration of the Greene County Highway Department, the GCSWCD, and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP). Funding for this project was provided by the Greene County Highway Department and the Stream Management Implementation Program (SMIP). The Schoharie Watershed SMIP is a collaborative program between GCSWCD, New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP), and Schoharie Reservoir drainage basin municipalities. This project was located on a tributary to the Schoharie Reservoir, which provides water to the New York City drinking water supply system.

Hunter Brook Aquatic Habitat Enhancement Project

Lexington, NY—A habitat enhancement project was completed in fall 2019 on the Hunter Brook, a tributary to the West Kill. This project was organized by the GCSWCD, Trout Unlimited, and the New York State Department of  Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). The primary goal of the project was to improve the recreational access along this stream, which is available for public fishing, while also enhancing the diversity of habitat available for wild brook trout.

Prior to this project, fisheries studies had determined that a population of brook trout existed in this area. It was recognized that the presence of suitable habitat for brook trout was limited in this area of the Hunter Brook. With this knowledge, plans came together to develop a habitat enhancement project in this location.

For the habitat enhancement project, trees were harvested from the nearby NYSDEC Vinegar Hill Wildlife Management Area in the Town of Lexington. These trees were used as grade control and pool digger structures, which means they were placed with the intention of creating scour pools in the stream. In addition to providing streambed diversity, the deeper areas of the stream created by these scour pools may provide areas with cooler water temperatures.

This project was located in the Schoharie  Reservoir drainage basin (also referred to as the “Schoharie Watershed”). Funding for this project was provided by Trout Unlimited and the Stream Management Implementation Program (SMIP). The Schoharie Watershed SMIP is a collaborative program between GCSWCD, New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP), and Schoharie Reservoir drainage basin municipalities. The Hunter Brook is a tributary to the Schoharie Reservoir, which provides water to the New York City drinking water supply system.

Future work related to this project may include a genetic study to learn more about the trout in the area. This study would be supported by funds provided by Trout Unlimited.

Manor Kill Floodplain Enhancement Project

Conesville, NY—In 2017, the Town of Conesville completed a Local Flood Analysis (LFA) to determine the existence of flood hazards and the potential feasibility of flood hazard mitigation projects in the hamlet areas of Conesville. A floodplain restoration and enhancement project on a section of the Manor Kill was identified and listed as a recommendation in the LFA. This project was completed in fall 2019.

The failing streambanks in this project location were identified in the 2009 Manor Kill Stream Management Plan (SMP) as priority sites due to their water quality impact. The goal of the project was to address an issue with flooding and erosion that affected this area along the Manor Kill for many years. Prior to construction, a geomorphic study and design was completed. The study showed that this part of the stream had been confined as a result of years of encroachment and filling in of critical floodplain areas. By restoring and enhancing this section of the floodplain, the intent is to have a reduction in streambank erosion, lower flood heights, and less flooding on Potter Mountain Road.

As recommended by the LFA, the first step involved the demolition and removal of an abandoned structure located within the floodplain on a parcel acquired by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) as part of the New York City-Funded Flood Buyout Program. The Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC) coordinated and funded the demolition and removal of the structure.

Following the removal of the structure, the project proceeded with floodplain restoration on the former site of the structure and streambank stabilization on the opposite side of the stream. The completed project  reconnected the stream with its natural floodplain, provided streambank stabilization, and revegetated the riparian (streamside) area as needed.

The project involved the collaboration of the Schoharie County Soil & Water Conservation District (SCSWCD), the GCSWCD, and the NYCDEP.  Funding for this project was provided by the Stream Management Implementation Program (SMIP). The Schoharie Watershed SMIP is a collaborative program between GCSWCD, NYCDEP, and Schoharie Reservoir drainage basin municipalities. The Manor Kill is a tributary to the Schoharie Reservoir, which provides water to the New York City drinking water supply system.

Riparian Buffer Restoration along the Schoharie Creek

The riparian buffer restoration project along the Schoharie Creek involved the planting of 1,476 native trees and shrubs.
Lexington, NY—The Catskill Streams Buffer Initiative (CSBI) works with streamside landowners to protect, enhance, or restore forested areas along streams. When the existing vegetation is primarily herbaceous, non-woody cover such as a mowed lawn, improvements to the riparian (streamside) area can be made by planting trees to promote a more mature vegetative community along the streambank and in the floodplain. GCSWCD planted 1,476 native trees and shrubs along the Schoharie Creek in Lexington to restore the riparian buffer. This planting will increase streambank stability over time and help slow or prevent future erosion. Additional benefits will include increased shade for the nearby waterbody, and increased wildlife habitat for aquatic and terrestrial animals (including birds and pollinators). Native maple, oak, cherry, and birch trees will be protected for the first five years with tree tubes to prevent deer browse and give them a greater chance of survival.

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.
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