Forty Fifth Annual BKAA Report, October 21, 2017
by Paula Medley, President
by Paula Medley, President
Ever the opportunist, the BKAA utilized each occasion to promote the wetlands and our organization, which ultimately enhanced networking, outreach, and educational purposes.
BKAA Board: Like last year, the board’s composition remained unchanged.
It was a very busy year, characterized by consistent activity. Mamakating’s Draft Comprehensive Plan, Thompson Education Center, Beautiful Earth, Dragon Springs, Paradise Il, Sugar Gum and Dunntown Solar Farms, and Hopper Hill Sand and Gravel Mine generated ongoing BKAA advocacy. Notably, there was not a “peep” from 7 Peaks. However, this project, though dormant, has not disappeared and undoubtedly will resurface in the future.
April 27 – Mamakating’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) conducted a public hearing on Paradise ll.
The BKAA carefully nurtured new contacts and constantly revitalized connections with long-standing friends and supporters. These priceless collaborations, with their myriad resources, positively influenced BKAA accomplishments.
The BKAA retained its affiliation with Sullivan County Visitors’ Association (SCVA), whose website and publications highlight our programs and wetlands ecosystem. On December 1, Michael and Paula Medley attended SCVA’s Annual Meeting and Holiday Party and participated in SCVA’s Annual Literature exchange at Forestburgh Playhouse on May 1 1.
BKAA maintained membership in the Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed.
March 1 1 – Michael and Paula attended Sullivan Renaissance’s Annual Conference, where the BKAA was honored with the Earth Award.
By Cathy Dawkins and Patricia Diness
Come Clean started the summer with an early clean-up and maintenance of our two gardens — one in front of the laundromat in Wurtsboro and one at the corner of Haven Road and Route 209 near Westbrookville. The early summer efforts included weeding, trimming, raking and pruning. All prior plantings are healthy and happy — some, including a white rosebush at the Laundromat and various Russian Sages at Haven Road, were so healthy as to be overgrowing their allotted space! We planted our usual — red Dragon Wing Begonias in the Laundry garden, but did not add any annuals to the Haven Road garden as the bulbs, astilbe and Russian sage add plenty of color and have filled in the whole garden.
We have a unofficial — but dedicated — helper at the Laundry Garden. Gary Dodd has a green thumb of his own and tends this garden lovingly throughout the season. If you see him about, please thank him!
The Haven Road garden had a lush year with all of the summer rains. Keeping the fastgrowing weeds and the fast-growing plantings under control was a challenge. The birds have planted a few pokeberry plants and nightshade vines, which thrived in the rains. Our intentionally planted Russian Sage has self-seeded to the point that we will do some thinning in the Spring. The Rose-of-Sharon was spectacular in late season, the hydrangeas, lovely, and our evergreens are simply magnificent specimens. By season’s end, the garden was back under control — and the team is reminded what a joy to see them thriving, without any need to water.
Our local woodchuck was disappointed not to have some annuals, but the bumble bees and honey bees were buzzing and active during the final day of weeding.
February 1 1 – BKAA sponsored Ravensbeard’s “Live Bird Show” at Wurtsboro’s Win-
In 2017, Colleen Crosby, Elizabeth Lopez, Kaitlyn Ponte, Lukas Redzimski, Skyler Redzimski, Maria Shestakov, and Taylor Vero all attended Camp De Bruce in the Catskills, where they encountered adventures that enhanced their self-confidence and environmental awareness.
There were no applicants this year.
The following graduating high school seniors received the 1st Annual Catherine Abate Memorial BKAA Scholarship, funded by Michael Abate to honor his late wife Catherine, a passionate environmental activist. Their winning essays focused on local environmental problems and ways to mitigate them.
Zachary Alexander – Ellenville Central School District Molly Mulhare – Pine Bush Central School District
Truth Muller – Home Schooled – Monticello Central School District.
Linda Lou Bartle – Water Testing Chairperson
These activities are crucial to the BKAA core mission, which teaches the value of wetlands, the Shawangunk Ridge, and surrounding areas, along with ways to safeguard them.
Paula established the BKAA’s educational itinerary and assembled the experts who implemented it.
John Haas took 20 birders on his “Early Spring Waterfowl Walk” and another 12 on his “Spring Bird Migration” venture. Michael shepherded 5 hikers up Gobbler’s Knob and others on his later Shawangunk Ridge and Huckleberry Ridge forays. Scott Graber introduced 6 neophytes to his:Birding for Beginners.” Bill Cutler captivated 15 visitors with his “Happy for Herps” outing. Gary Keeton escorted 16 on the D&H Canal/O & W trail loop. 4 on his “MoonlightRamble,” several on his “Sunrise Walk,” and 6 on an excursion highlighting D&H Canal history. Jack Austin led 3 aficionados on his “Natural History” trip. Scott Graber and Michael guided 14 vessels during their popular “Moonlight Paddle” and captained a group of 6 in late September.
Michael, and spotting scope perusal with Linda Lou.
In its 15th year of operation, a dedicated cadre of BKAA Nature Watch volunteers (48 individuals) worked as educational ambassadors for the Basha Kill. They also recorded observations about the behavior of the nesting bald eagles and ospreys. Our volunteers are situated at the South Road boat launch site, one of the key access points for recreational users of the Basha Kill. It is a perfect location for this program since it offers excellent views of the nesting raptors, especially when our powerful spotting scopes are focused on these raptor nests.
Two bald eagle chicks in the long-established southern nest thrived this season under the watchful eyes of their parents. The eaglets successfully fledged during the week of June 19. In spite of several nest-building attempts, the osprey did not have an active nest this year. Birding expert John Haas wondered if perhaps one of the pair had been lost and thesurvivor was unable to find a new mate. We’ll be watching closely next year. During this season, there was also an exciting new development with bald eagles at the Basha Kill as a second pair of bald eagles successfully built a new nest north of Haven Road. Two eaglets also fledged from that nest.
The Nature Watch year began with the annual Volunteer Training which included an excellent presentation by Nathan “Nate” Ermer, DEC Wildlife Biologist & Manager of the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area. He focused on what makes this wetland regionally significant, while also reviewing DEC management plans for the Basha Kill. Elly Knieriemen, local nature photographer and teacher, then showed her beautiful images of the Basha Kill with special emphasis on her photos of bald eagles. With the Training under their belts, the Nature Watch Team then covered week-end shifts at the boat launch from April 22nd to June 25th (ten weeks) and logged in approximately 1,522 visitors (up 10 from last year and 425 boats (up 1 1 1 from 2016). At the end of the season, we send the summary of our data and weekly observations to the DEC for their use. On Sunday, September 24th we wrapped up our 15th Nature Watch season by hosting another BKAA Fundraiser at Paul Deninno’sBashaKilI Vineyards. The extreme heat and humidity kept our numbers lower than usual but we still drew a good-sized crowd. Happily, we were able to raise some $2,500 for the BKAA — thanks in part to Paul Deninno’s generosity. Special thanks go to nature photographer Kevin Kreischer for the donation of his beautiful wood duck photo for a raffle which garnered $400 for the BKAA. Paul’s wine and ale were a big part of the draw, along with delicious farm-to-table food offered by Chef Samara Ferris. The centerpiece of our event was the return of Bill Streeter from the Delaware Valley Raptor Center with his incomparable live birds of prey progranm
Paula Medley, Nora Brusinski and Nancy and Ed Duvinski made up our wonderful meet and greet crew. New this year, a special Parking Patrol group helped keep the parking situation in order. Thanks to Kevin Keller, Kelly Macaluso and Don Kenny for this assistance.
All of our volunteers are at the core of this program including Co-Leaders Maryallison Farley, Cathy Liljequist and Kevin Keller. Cath is our admin. expert, handling the data input and summary. Thanks especially to Cath for taking on this job which requires great attention to detail and computer skills! Kevin works hands-on with our volunteers, spending most of his time with them at the boat launch. He is great at helping volunteers communicate with visitors, letting them know what a special resource we have here and the role that the BKAA plays in protecting and advocating for it. Basha Kill birder extraordinaire, John Haas, our key birding resource person and Gary Keeton, long-time Basha Kill naturalist, completed the 2017 Nature Watch Team. It’s truly a team effort Thanks to all! See you next season.
John Haas’s book, which continues to educate and pique interest, is available at Canal Towne Emporium and Bashakill Vineyards in Wurtsboro, Morgan Outdoors in Livingston Manor, and online.
“The Basha Kill Wetlands: a Field Guide” is a pivotal publication educating readers about the wetlands and generating excitement about this unique ecosystem. Guides may be purchased at the Bashakill Vineyards and Canal Towne Emporium, Morgan Outdoors, and online. Books are also available at all Sullivan County libraries, Cragsmoor Free Library, Port Jervis Free Library, and SUNY Orange.
The BKAA’s visually appealing brochure continues to be a vital public outreach tool.
These key board functions were competently executed by Marcia Briggs Wallace, Christine Saward, and Monique Lipton. Thanks for an amazing commitment of time and energy.
Consulting Engineer Andy Willingham routinely FOILed DEC for updated data on pertinent advocacy issues. He also addressed Beautiful Earth, Dragon Springs, and Paradise Il matters. Consulting attorney John Lyons dealt with TEC. Consulting Ecologist Erik Kiviat assessed Beautiful Earth’s impact on local habitat The BKAA is extremely fortunate to collaborate with such a talented, dedicated team. Thank you everyone!