50th Annual Report 2022


Fiftieth Annual BKAA Report, October 15, 2022

By Jackie Broder, President

As Covid continued to impact some activities, the BKAA still conducted, sponsored, or co-sponsored numerous events, continuing to have safety in mind.

BKAA Board:

The Board composition has changed. Frank Coviello, who took on the water testing, has been added as a Board member. The Board also added Pam Rice, who will take on the scholarship programs. We lost our President Paula Medley, who is irreplaceable.

Delaware River Solar (DRS):

We continued to focus on Delaware River Solar’s large-scale facility, proposed for property adjoining the Wurtsboro Airport. DRS responded to all of the communities concerns and changed their proposal to meet those requests. DRS project was granted approval by the Planning Board on 12/29/21.

Crescent Heights

Crescent Heights last attended Planning Board meeting in December 2020. The Planning Board hasn’t received anything since then.

Networking:

The BKAA is constantly revitalizing connections with long-standing friends and supporters.

• 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 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 and recently renewed with DEC.

• Interacted with Mamakating Environmental Educaiton 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 the Mamakating Farmers Markets, supervised by Michael Medley and various board members.

Come Clean: Maintaining Our Gardens – Cathy Dawkins

The spring rains were magnificent…the summer drought…I’d rather not repeat it. But, because our Haven Road garden is established and mature, it survived the drought without much trouble. We have stopped adding annuals to the garden because the woodchucks and deer seem to eat them and we get very little color, so we’ve decided to just let the plants themselves evolve with their own style. As I mentioned last year, the trees and brush behind our garden and near the road, are laden with wild grape vines, and, as it turns out, some poison ivy. We have worked in the past to contain them and keep them from travelling into our garden and trees. However, this year, it appears that the routine mowing behind the garden has stopped, giving these vines purchase to make their way into our garden. I spent the better part of a morning crawling around in the garden and pulling wherever they had tried to root, as well as pulling out of the trees and shrubs. Then I pulled and weeded behind our garden and into the area of the trees. I made a pretty good dent, but ended up battling poison ivy for several weeks.

Water Monitoring by Frank Coviello

Bashakill Water Testing Program:

The Water Testing Program had been dormant from 2017 to 2021 due to the resignation of the former Coordinator. The program was resumed in 2021 when I, Frank Coviello, was assigned as the new Coordinator. Specific details of the 2021 water measurements are available upon request. For this report it is sufficient to state that the measured parameters are consistent with aquatic life which is evident by observing the ecosystem. The measured parameters are also consistent with the records available from 2012 (when the current electrode system was implemented) to 2017. Our Quality Controls records show our measurements are accurate, precise and reliable. At the initiation of the testing in 2021 a total of 23 participants were recruited. As of this report 5 participants have left the program but 2 new participants have volunteered.

Masten Lake Herbicide Issue:

In February, an anonymous person attempted to have an herbicide applied to Masten Lake (to mitigate a problem associated with recreational use) without the appropriate permits. Water from Masten Lake makes its way into the Bashakill via Wilsey Brook. Upon learning of the requirements, the request was cancelled. The matter has been addressed by the Lake Residents.

Local Environmental Activities

The BKAA and Mamakating Library co-sponsored six various O&W/D&H trail walks led by Kerron Barnes.

DEC Campers:

BKAA sponsored six students to a DEC environmental camp at Pack Forest, Warrensburg, NY. They were-

  • Caroline Centauro, 15 years old from Sparrowbush/Port Jervis High School
  • Peter Kura, 12 years old from Bloomingburg/Collaborative High School in Hurleyville
  • Raquel Maclean, 14 years old from Stormville/homeschooled
  • Jack Schnackenberg, 15 years old from Poughkeepsie/homeschooled
  • Anneliese Vitale, 13 years old from Bloomingburg/Crispell Middle School, Pine Bush
  • Emma Witherow, 15 years old from Port Jervis/John S. Burke Catholic, Goshen

Their essays can be found in the Spring 2022 Guardian.

 

Jack Orth Memorial Scholarship:

This was awarded to Nicole Connal, a full time student at SUNY Sullivan, majoring in Environmental Science. See the Spring 2022 Guardian.

 

Catherine Abate Memorial Scholarship:

Three $500 scholarships were awarded.

  • Jonathan Espinoza, Fallsburg Junior Senior High School
  • Amarilis Elise Hernandez, Pine Bush Central School District
  • Ryan Weiner, Monticello Central School District

See their essays in the Summer 2022 Guardian.

Bashakill Walks and Educational Calendar:

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

  • February 5, 2022 – Woodpeckers of New York with Naturalist Pam Golben told about 7 species of woodpeckers common to New York and how to identify each species by sight and sound. Hosted by Mamakating Environmental Education Center (MEEC).
  • March 26, 2022 – Spring Waterfowl Walk with John Haas saw an array of early ducks, geese and mergansers, with a visit to Mamakating’s Environmental Center.
  • March 27, 2022 – Seasonal Migration, It’s Not Just for Birds. Naturalist Pam Golben presented local insects, amphibians, reptiles, fish, and mammals experiencing seasonal migration. Hosted by MEEC.
  • April 9, 2022 – BKAA Nature Watch Training for volunteers, held at Mamakating Environmental Education.
  • Weekends from April 23 – June 26, 2022: Nature Watch at the South Road Boat Launch, across from Bashakill Vineyards used scopes to view nesting bald eagles and other birds.
  • April 23, 2022 – 40th Annual Basha Kill Clean-up: Approximately 55 volunteers picked up garbage and recyclables from all areas around the wetlands.
  • April 24, 2022 – Kerron Barnes led a hike along the D&H Canal Towpath from Route 17 to Graham’s Basin, co-sponsored with Mamakating Library.
  • April 30, 2022 – Birding for Beginners. Naturalist Scott Graber led a walk focusing on basic identification of birds by sight and sound. A visit to Mamakating’s Environmental Center was included.
  • May 14, 2022 – Walk the O & W / D & H Canal Trail Loop. Kerron Barnes, co-sponsored with Mamakating Library, led people along a 3-mile loop from Wurtsboro along the O&W rail trail, to McDonald Rd returning to Wurtsboro via the D & H Canal towpath.
  • May 21, 2022 – Spring Migration Warbler Walk with John Haas saw an array of spring migrants including warblers, orioles, and grosbeaks. Visit to Mamakating’s Environmental Center included.
  • May 22, 2022 – Hike to Gobbler’s Knob with NY-NJ Trail Conference Representative, with views of a beautiful 650 acre Shawangunk Ridge property that was also site of the proposed Basherkill Subdivision.
  • June 5, 2022 – Happy for Herps with herpetologist Bill Cutler searched for amphibians and reptiles. Visit to Mamakating’s Environmental Center included.
  • June 12, 2022 – Round Trip Walk on the Newly Completed D&H Canal Towpath from Mamakating Town Hall to Ferguson Lane, Wurtsboro with Kerron Barnes, co-sponsored with Mamakating Library.
  • June 18, 2022 – Natural History Walk with Basha Kill educator Jack Austin
  • June 26, 2022 – General Natural History Walk with SUNY Orange Professor Emeritus, Marty Borko, to learn about the origins of the wetland and its unique biodiversity.
  • July 9, 2022 – All About Fireflies with Naturalist Pam Golben. Participants learned all about these lovely little beetles and what can be done to help local populations remain healthy. After the program, they searched for fireflies outside and then watched the movie, A Bug’s Life. Hosted by Mamakating Environmental Education Center.
  • July 23, 2022 – Mamakating Town Park 50th Anniversary Celebration of the BKAA!
  • July 30, 2022 – Vermicomposting with Naturalist Pam Golben: How to Compost with Worms, hosted by Mamakating Environmental Education.
  • August 12, 2022 – Moonlight Walk with Jack Austin along Haven Road and the Railroad Trail.
  • August 14, 2022 – All About Cicadas with Naturalist Pam Golben. Hosted by Mamakating Environmental Education Center.
  • August 21, 2022 – Round Trip Walk on the Newly Completed D&H Canal Towpath from Mamakating Town Hall to Ferguson Lane, Wurtsboro with Kerron Barnes, co-sponsored with Mamakating Library.
  • September 17, 2022 – Walk the O & W / D & H Canal Trail Loop with Kerron Barnes, co-sponsored with Mamakating Library.
  • September 24, 2022 – Canoe/Kayak the Basha Kill with photographer extraordinaire Elly Knieriemen.
  • October 9, 2022 – Hike the D&H Canal Towpath from Route 17 to Graham’s Basin with Kerron Barnes, co-sponsored with Mamakating Library.

Also on the fall calendar of events:

  • October 16, 2022 – Hike the Shawangunk Ridge Trail/O&W Railroad Bed Loop with a NY-NJ Trail Conference Trail Maintainer Event co-sponsored with Trail Conference.
  • October 21, 2022 Public Star Watch with John Kocijanski of the Catskills Astronomy Club’s Facebook page.
  • October 22, 2022 Hike the Minisink Trail at Huckleberry State Forest in the Town of Greenville with Mike Medley.

Nature Watch – Maryallison Farley and Nora Brushinski

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

Publicity/Emails/thebashakill.org/Alerts/Facebook/Brochure/Guardian:

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 and to Samara Ferris and Monique Lipton for facilitating email processes.

  • Our website, thebashakill.org, 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 administered by Linda Lou Bartle and Frank Coviello.
  • 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 for orchestrating the Guardian’s online operation and for patiently managing Paula’s Type A personality, as do so many others (Paula’s words from the 2021 Annual Report). 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.

Respectfully submitted,

Jackie Broder, President