What 14,000 Fish Can Tell Us About the Health of Our Rivers?

The Neversink River, commonly referred to as the birthplace of American dry fly fishing, used to boast legendary numbers of trout, but how do these numbers stack up today? Does Rondout Creek contain a healthy population of fish? Will future restoration efforts lead to better fishing in these watersheds? Join us as we discuss these questions with Barry Baldigo and Scott George, Research Biologists at the United States Geological Survey’s New York Water Science Center, Troy, NY. Barry and Scott will be our keynote speakers at the 4th Annual Rondout Neversink Anglers Symposium on Friday, November 3, at the Blue Hill Lodge's Claryville Event Center at 1:00 p.m. The venue is located at 1471 Denning Road, Claryville.  

The USGS staff will give us an overview of their study, as well as a look at the data collected this past summer from 22 locations across the Rondout and Neversink Rivers. Many of these locations were previously surveyed by Balidgo in the late 80s and early 90s, giving us a unique glimpse into how the fish populations have changed from then to now.

Also presenting is Ed Ostapczuk, who will talk about Ed Sens the forgotten Catskills fly tyer. Ed is a familiar face in the Catskills where he can often be found fly fishing his favorite streams and rivers. He is a retiredmiddle school teacher, active Trout Unlimited member, writer, and licensed NYS fishing guide.  

Our third speaker is Keiko Sono whose talk, Bamboo Rod and Catskill Flies, recalls her father’s dream of emigrating from Japan to fish the famous Catskill waters. Keiko is a visual and social practice artist based in Bearsville, NY and is creating a film called Catskill Waters in a recent project with funding from Rondout Neversink Stream Program.

Our fourth and final speaker will be Cathy Pedler, Adirondack Mountain Club’s Director of Government Relations and Conservation. Cathy has been a board member and employee for a variety of environmental organizations throughout her career. As the Director of Government Relations and Conservation, she has had a large role in recent efforts to cleanup and educate users at the Blue Hole. She will discuss potential tools and strategies for communities in fragile natural areas, such as the Adirondacks and here at home in the Catskills, that face intensive and improper use and degradation. The Adirondack Mountain Club was formed in 1922 to protect and advocate for New York State’s wild lands and waters while also promoting the enjoyment of natural places responsibly.  

The 4th Annual Anglers Symposium will be recorded by Silver Hollow Audio and released as a podcast after the event. No-fee registration for this special event is encouraged by emailing info@rondoutneversink.org. There is no cost, as the event is sponsored by Rondout Neversink Stream Program, a project of Sullivan County Soil & Water Conservation District in partnership with Denning and Neversink and funded by NYC DEP.  

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Why are rivers important to humans? Why is it in our nature to want to be near them? And what can we do now to insure their future? We'll ponder these questions together with river scientist and author Dr. Kurt Fausch, Professor in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at Colorado State University, who will be the keynote presenter at the 3rd Annual Rondout Neversink Anglers Symposium Friday, October 21 at the Blue Hill Lodge's Claryville Event Center at 1:00 p.m. The venue is located at 1471 Denning Road, Claryville.

His book, For the Love of Rivers, draws readers across the reflective surfaces of streams to explore all that is beneath. While celebrating the beauty and mystery of rivers and streams, he uses his experience as a field biologist and rich collaborations with other scientists in the United States and Japan to explain the underlying science connecting these aquatic ecosystems to their streamside forests and the organisms found there - including humans. More information about the book can be found at Kurt’s web-site www.fortheloveofrivers.com.

The book traces a groundbreaking research collaboration between American and Japanese scientists, a story told in the documentary Riverwebs. In 1995, a Japanese scientist named Shigeru Nakano embarked on an experiment that would change the way those who study streams and rivers think about these ecosystems. Nakano used the bold approach of covering a small stream in Hokkaido, northern Japan, with mosquito netting stretched over a greenhouse frame to cut off the insects falling into the stream from the streamside (riparian) forest. It also stopped the flow of adult aquatic insects that were emerging from the stream from entering the forest.

As Dr. Fausch describes in For the Love of Rivers, the results were astounding. Nakano and his colleagues, and later other scientists in other regions, found that about half or more of the animals in the forest that depend on insects emerging from streams, like bats, birds, lizards, and spiders, disappeared when a critical part of their food supply was cut off. Likewise, when forest insects no longer fell into the stream, half the fish left.

Tragically, Nakano drowned in 2000 while conducting field research in Mexico, but his work inspires many other river and stream ecologists to look more closely and delve more deeply into the unintended consequences of our human activities on streams and their riparian forests.

Nearly every action we take in forests and grasslands, such as grazing cattle, cutting trees, mining metals, and spraying chemicals to kill insects or weeds can affect the flow of terrestrial insects that fall into streams and feed the fish. At the same time, nearly every action we take in streams, such as diverting water or straightening streams into ditches to speed flood waters away, can harm the immature invertebrates living on the stream bed and ultimately reduce the total amount of adult insects that emerge from the water surface and feed the animals that live along streams.

Our second speaker at Anglers 3 is Nat Gillespie of US Forest Service, who will talk about large wood and habitat restoration in the Northeast U.S.  Nat is a familiar face in the Catskills from work in his early career out of Roscoe, N.Y. in the late 1990s when he led outreach efforts to improve riparian buffers on behalf of Trout Unlimited. The 3rd Annual Anglers Symposium will be recorded by Silver Hollow Audio and released as a podcast after the event. Registration is encouraged by emailing bwagner@rondoutneversink.org to register for this special event. 

A second public event with Dr. Fausch is scheduled for Saturday, October 22 when the Riverwebs documentary (45 min.) will be screened at the Catskill Interpretive Center, 5096 Route 28 in Mt. Tremper, N.Y. at 1:00 p.m. followed by a book signing by Dr. Fausch. For more information, contact mdrillinger@catskillcenter.org.

There is no cost for these events, which are sponsored by Rondout Neversink Stream Program, a project of Sullivan County Soil & Water Conservation District funded by NYC DEP; and The Catskill Center for Conservation & Development. 

River Shorts Community Film Screening July 15

River Shorts is our first annual community film screening of river, creek and stream-related video clips. They can be about any aspect of river life anywhere in the world. Original films welcome. Share your film clips (under 10 minutes and appropriate for all ages) by emailing us at krauter@rondoutneversink.org.

Then meet us on the river at 8:00 p.m. Friday, July 15 at Claryville Event Center, 1467 Denning Road. Beverages will be available from Blue Hill Lodge. This event is sponsored by Rondout Neversink Stream Program, a project of Sullivan County Soil & Water Conservation District in partnership with Denning and Neversink, funded by NYC DEP. 

Catskills Lark in the Park @nycheadwaters

Rondout Neversink Stream Program Lark in the Park Events Flyer

Two field outings will take place as part of Catskills Lark in the Park events during the first week of October in the Rondout Neversink watershed.

First, on Wednesday, October 7, weather station monitor Glenn Horton, of NYC DEP, will lead a hike to the weather station on Red Hill that he watches over with his team to calculate how much water each year's snow pack will produce for use in the reservoir system for New York City. The 2-mile hike is moderate to difficult and will require climbing steep pitches on a mountain hiking trail.  Meeting time and place is 1:00 P.M. at Neversink Town Hall, 273 Main Street, Grahamsville, NY. 

Friday, October 9 from 9 A.M. till Noon, the Rondout Neversink Stream Program team will guide a tour to three completed river restoration sites to explain the best management practices for dealing with stream bank erosion. Meeting time is 9:00 A.M. at Claryville Church Hall. We will encounter steep pitches and rough terrain so appropriate footwear is recommended. 

To register for these events, contact Karen Rauter by email: krauter@rondoutneversink.org or call 845-985-2581. 


2nd Annual Anglers Symposium Set for October 2

2nd Annual Anglers Symposium Set for October 2

Come meet three rock stars of regional science who will speak about the macroinvertebrates and hemlock forests that provide the foundation of a healthy food web in the Rondout and Neversink ecosystems.  Without this rich river web, you’d have a pretty bad day of fishing. So would the eagles and otters. What stories do these critters tell us about the past, present and future of our rivers? Join us for this rare opportunity to learn more about conditions at the headwaters of two of the Catskills’ fly fishing gems: the Rondout and Neversink. Registration information here.

Flood Model Community Presentation Dates Set

What is a hydraulic model and how does it help communities identify and estimate costs for the most effective mitigation options to hazardous flooding? This series of community presentations will be conducted by Sullivan Co Soil & Water Conservation District in partnership with the Towns of Denning and Neversink, Barton & Loguidice engineers and NYCDEP. Completion of this Local Flood Analysis tool for East and Main Branch Neversink qualifies Towns for funding to implement flood mitigation projects on the rivers from Scofield’s to Halls Mills Bridge. 

Click here for complete schedule. 

All sessions will be held at Claryville Reformed Church Hall 946 Claryville Rd (Co. Rd 19).

Invasive Plant Management Underway on Neversink

A multi-year education campaign about the invasive plant, Japanese Knotweed, paid off last week when a Frost Valley commuter sited its appearance on County Road 47 in Denning. Control efforts are now underway with participation by Ulster County DPW, Denning Highway Department, landowners and staff at Catskill Region Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP), which has funded a project for Knotweed control on Rondout and Chestnut Creeks since 2012. 

Signs will be installed next week at the site to promote the spread prevention message: "Do Not Disturb, Do Not Mow." Japanese Knotweed, not previously known to grow in active stands on the Neversink, travels in fill for road projects and then roots by small fragments which find purchase on stream banks. Knotweed thrives too well in the riparian area, but lacks the rooting structure of native plants which it out-competes. The resulting risks are bank erosion and blocked access for recreationists.