Annual Report 2021

BKAA Forty-Ninth Annual Report 2021


by BKAA President Paula Medley

While Covid-19 restrictions impacted 2020-2021 offerings, the BKAA still conducted, sponsored, or co-sponsored numerous events with safety an ongoing goal met by socially distancing and wearing masks.

BKAA Board: Board composition remained unchanged throughout the year. However, Bob Muller declared intent to leave the board following 2021’s Annual Meeting. Bob’s Membership Chair role will be assumed by Graham Vest. Thanks Bob’s for your excellent service.

Developments in the Bashakill Watershed:

This year’s advocacy focused almost exclusively on Delaware River Solar’s large-scale solar facility proposed for property adjoining Wurtsboro Airport.

Delaware River Solar (DRS):

  • December 8, 2020 – DRS made second presentation before Mamakating planning board workshop.
  • April 13, 2021 – DRS submitted project’s sketch plan at planning board workshop.
  • June 8 – DRS appeared before regular planning board session..
  • September 14 – DRS on planning board agenda.
  • October 12 – DRS public hearing before planning board. Paula Medley represented the BKAA.

Crescent Heights:

  • December 8, 2020 – At a Mamakating planning board workshop, developers discussed plans for a 300-room hotel and 200+ single family houses on 800 acres adjacent to Wurtsboro Hills, Mountain Lake Camps, and Masten Lake.
  • Present – No further appearance before the planning board since the aforementioned meeting.

Dragon Springs (DS):

  • October 28, 2020 – DS Lake Helen mini-mall project, proposed for 481 Galley Hill Road, Cuddebackville, appeared before Deerpark’s planning board. Stormwater from this development will negatively impact the Bashakill Watershed.
  • Present – Awaiting establishment of a public hearing for this smaller venture which will significantly affect water drainage and existing water table. The property’s Lake Helen is a public water supply.
  • No word on the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement regarding proposed expansions of DS complex and asphalt driveway on Guymard Turnpike.


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 affiliations with Sullivan Catskill Visitor Association, whose website and publications highlight our programs and wetland ecosystem.

BKAA maintained membership in Coalition for the Delaware Watershed..

  • BKAA minimally networked with local politicians, but sent Guardian to most.
  • BKAA maintained membership in Coalition for the Delaware Watershed.
  • BKAA minimally networked with local politicians, but regularly sent Guardians to most.
  • BKAA enjoyed consistent backing from Deerpark Rural Alliance and NYenvironcom, while supporting Columbia Hill Neighborhood Alliance and Fallsburg’s Future via Guardian updates.

Frequently communicated with DEC Bashakill Wildlife Manager, Nate Ermer, who periodically updated DEC Bashakill activity in his Guardian column. Nate also facilitated the BKAA’s Volunteer Stewardship Agreement recently renewed with DEC.

  • Frequently communicated with DEC Bashakill Wildlife Manager Nate Ermer who periodically updated DEC/Bashakill activity in his Guardian column.
  • Interacted with Mamakating Environmental Education Center (MEEC) via Director Jackie Broder’s column in the Guardian, sending Alerts underscoring MEEC programs, and sponsoring, co-sponsoring, or participating in various MEEC offerings.
  • Networked with Mamakating Local Development Corporation over TravelStorys and annual calendar.
  • BKAA managed an informational table at 15 Mamakating Farmers Markets, supervised by Paula or Michael Medley.
  • May 1, 2021 – BKAA shared organizational materials with Deerpark Rural Alliance at Port Jervis City-Wide Yard Sale.
  • May 21 – Michael was interviewed about the BKAA and Bashakill by Radio WJFF.
  • September 24 – Paula and Michael represented the BKAA at official opening of new D&H Canal section behind Mamakating town hall.

Come Clean: Maintaining Our Gardens – Cathy Dawkins

  • Thanks to the rains this past year, our Haven Garden is thriving! The trees and grasses and sage and shrubs…they were all healthy and happy and prolific. Really, the garden is largely self-sustaining at this point, with the exception of the need to weed and trim. There is almost no place to add annuals, which would attract the woodchucks anyway, so, we have been keeping it as is. We work to contain wild grapevines from travelling into our garden and trees. We pull and cut.
  • Pokeweed: Aside from the grapevine and plain old grass, our biggest weed problem in the garden has been pokeberry, aka pokeweed. I’m not accustomed to seeing this plant in our area until the last few years. It has always been prolific in the south and mid-Atlantic. Weeding it early in the season is best, otherwise the roots are strong and deep. If I delay, I find myself digging deep (12-18 inches, or more) to try to eradicate it from the Haven garden.
  • Pokeberry is toxic. Not only are the leaves and seeds and berries toxic if eaten, they can, for some, cause irritation on contact…so gloves are advised. If children ingest, even one berry, you should seek immediate medical attention. So, it is probably best to become familiar with this plant and pull it early if you find it in your yard. /wiki/Phytolacca_americana.

Local Environmental Activities:

  • January 21, 2021 – BKAA co-sponsored a program on Climate Change Solution Simulation (with Mamakating Library).

June 22 – BKAA and Mamakating Library co-sponsored “Mamakating Under the Pines” presentation.

  • BKAA and library co-sponsored 4 walks on the O&W/D&H Canal Towpath Loop led by Kerron Barnes.


Due to Covid-19, DEC did not conduct overnight camps this year.


Jack Orth Memorial Scholarship: No scholarships were awarded.

Catherine Abate Memorial BKAA Scholarships:

Ethan Alexander, Ellenville Central School District and Christian Monsour, Pine Bush Central School District each received this scholarship ($350 apiece), funded by Michael Abate to honor his late wife Catherine, a passionate environmental activist. Winning essays focused on local environmental problems and ways to mitigate them. Congratulations, Ethan and Christian!

Basha Kill Walks and Educational Calendar:

These activities are crucial to the BKAA’s core Mission, which teaches the value of wetlands, Shawangunk Ridge, and entire Bashakill watershed, along with ways to safeguard these resources. Paula established the BKAA’s educational agenda and assembled the experts who implemented it.

October 17, 2020 – NY-NJ Trail Conference trail maintainer Andy Garrison led 5 hikers on a Shawangunk Ridge foray.

November 7 – BKAA had an informational table at MEEC’s Fall Festival, overseen by Paula.

• February 20, 2021 – “Understanding the Eastern Coyote” sponsored by BKAA at MEEC

  • March 16 – “Cavity Nesting Birds Workshop” sponsored by BKAA at MEEC.
  • March 20 – “Spring Waterfowl Walk” with John Haas, 21 participants.
  • April 24 – 39th Annual Basha Kill Cleanup.
  • April 25 – “Birding for Beginners” with Scott Graber, 8 participants.
  • May 1 – “Spring Migration Warbler Walk” with John Haas, 10 participants.
  • May 22 – “Gobbler’s Knob Ramble” with NY-NJ Trail Conference trail maintainer Andy Garrison, 11 participants.
  • June 6 – “Happy for Herps” with Bill Cutler, 7 participants
  • June 12 – “Natural History Walk” with Jack Austin, 13 attendees.
  • June 15 – Michael guided a Pine Bush Girl Scout Troop on a Bashakill outing.
  • June 17 – Michael led a group of Mid-Hudson Area Retired Teachers on a Bashakill jaunt.
  • June 27 – “Shrews, Moles, Mice, AKA What the Cat Brings In” with Marty Borko, 4 attendees.
  • July 16 – “Invasive Strike Force Guided ID Walk” with Dr. Brent Boscarino, BKAA co-sponsored with NY-NJ Trail Conference and MEEC.
  • July 25 – “Amazing Moths” sponsored by BKAA at MEEC.
  • July 31 – “The Lost Ladybug Project” sponsored by BKAA at MEEC.
  • August 8 – “Common Snakes of the Hudson Valley” sponsored by BKAA at MEEC.
  • August 21 & 28 – “Hike the D&H Canal Towpath from Route 17 to Grahams Basin” with Kerron Barnes, co-sponsored with Mamakating Library.
  • October 2 – “Canoe/Kayak the Basha Kill” with Scott Graber and Mike, 6 kayaks.

Nature Watch:

Cancelled in 2020.

The Basha Kill Field Guide, along with the 3rd Edition of a Birding Guide to Sullivan County, New York, including the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area (WMA), Field Checklists of Birds of the WMA and Field ID Cards for Marsh Birds of the Bashakill are available at MEEC, BKAA venues, Canal Towne Emporium, Bashakill Vineyards, Morgan Outdoors in Livingston Manor.


The Bashakill gratefully recognizes Susan O’Neill’s ongoing dedication as our public relations guru, writing and distributing all press releases. Special thanks to Bill Lucas for continuing as BKAA email coordinator this past year and to Samara Ferris and Monique Lipton for facilitating email processes.

  • Our website,, and BKAA Alerts update, BKAA programs, supply general news, and rapidly galvanize members for advocacy. Props to Maryallison Farley for being the BKAA’s contact with our webmaster. Thanks also to Jon Heaphy of Liberty Press for excellently functioning as Alerts Coordinator!
  • The BKAA is part of social media having a Facebook page competently administered by Linda Lou Bartle.
  • The Guardian newsletter is our most effective educational tool since ALL BKAA members access it. Our brochure is also extremely influential.
  • Thank you to Liberty Press and Jon Heaphy for orchestrating the Guardian’s online operation and for patiently managing Paula’s Type A personality, as do so many others. Also, kudos to Jon for designing and organizing the Guardian’s layout.

BKAA Consultants:

Hudsonia’s ecological consultants, Chris Graham and Erik Kiviat greatly assisted BKAA advocacy with DRS via their invaluable preliminary biodiversity assessment.

Consulting attorney John Lyons reviewed BKAA legal documents with Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan, thus facilitating creation of a charitable endowment.

Consulting Engineer Andy Willingham ably helped the BKAA obtain critical Crescent Heights map sets.

Thank you everyone!

Respectfully submitted, Paula Medley, President