Check out SKWC member’s recent article on water quality!

eli figure 4
Figure taken from Eli’s paper. This figure shows the microbial exchange among sediment, water and air.

Eli Dueker, SKWC member and Bard professor, recently published a paper on Challenges to Managing Microbial Fecal Pollution in CoastaEnvironments: Extra-Enteric Ecology and Microbial Exchange Among Water, Sediment, and Air.” . The paper adds complexity to traditional understanding of fecal indicator bacteria.   His research looks at fecal indicator bacteria, some of the same ones we monitor in our sampling program, and their interactions with both air and sediment as well as water. Improved water quality management would recognize the importance of these microbial exchanges, as well as microbial particle association and microbes length of environmental persistence.

We are excited to see such interesting research being done by a member of our community, as well as applicable to our ongoing efforts to improve our own sampling program.

Off to a busy new year!


Bard student, Isaac Yelchin, describes the “Big Night” to a full audience at our February community meeting.

After a month off, we are back and busy this February!

On February 10th we had our first water quality monitoring day of 2017! A HUGE thank you to all of the volunteers who battled the snowy weather to gather samples, and the volunteers who dedicated their Friday afternoon to process the samples. We are very excited to see how the winter month results compare to our other data.

On the 15th we had our first community meeting of the year at the Elmendorf Inn in Red Hook. There was a great turn out, and it was wonderful to see both old and new faces! We had a presentation on the assessment of doing a micro-hydro power project on the Saw Kill as we have historic dams on the Saw Kill that are currently unused for hydropower. This project is looking at the feasibility of micro hydro or dam removal–it does not take for granted that micro-hydro will be built, but does an honest assessment of what hydro power would look like at Bard’s dam.

Take a look at our meeting minutes (link) to see more information on Micro-hydro, and the current state of the assessment.

Our community conversation focused on how our local watershed can relate to our larger Hudson River watershed, as well as other communities both regionally and nationally. Looking forward to talking more about this in future conversations. Furthering community engagement and expanding our community was a large theme voiced in our community brainstorming, as well as thinking about how to improve our water monitoring program.

Coming up we have a film screening, Hudson River Environmental Futures: Film Screening & Discussion. A short film in the Hudson River: A River at Risk series by Jon Bowermaster. Riverkeeper staff and others will lead discussion at Bard College (Campus Center/Weis Cinema) on March 7, 2017 at 4:45 PM.  

Also in March, will be the Big Night! When the temperature gets just right, different amphibians come out of hibernation and head to their vernal pools. Volunteers are needed to help the salamanders cross the road safely and count. Contact us if you are interested in this important citizen science opportunity. Lastly, March will also bring our monthly monitoring program and next community meeting.

It has been a busy month already, and we look forward to only getting busier! Hope to see you out in the watershed!


Rose Hill Farm Tree Planting

A huge thank you to all of the wonderful volunteers that came out Halloween weekend to plant trees with us!!! We planted 120 trees in a little over an hour!  Another thank you to Scenic Hudson and Tree’s for Tribs for facilitating such a wonderful event and doing the amazing work you do! And lastly, an enormous thank you to Rose Hill Farm for their support and enthusiasm for the project, as well as the yummy cider and cider doughnuts!



The trees were planted alongside a tributary of the Saw Kill. Tree plantings along waterways are super important for establishing riparian zones, which can help prevent erosion and excess nutrients or pollutants getting in to the water. This tributary will eventually flow in to the Saw Kill, so by protecting inputs here we help protect the larger watershed.

Another big thank you to everyone for a great event!!!!

Day in the life of the Saw Kill

Last Thursday we participated in Day in the Life of the Hudson Estuary. This is an event that takes place all up and down the Hudson River to get communities out and learning about their watershed. Hundreds of school kids were out on the river, observing, doing science, having fun, and capturing a “snapshot” of what the river was like from NYC to Troy on this particular day.

Red Hook high schoolers and volunteers singing about the estuary! Highhhh tide looooow tide!

We participated at Bard College on the site of where the Saw Kill flows in to Tivoli Bays. We had Red Hook high schoolers come to campus to learn from wonderful and enthusiastic student and community member volunteers.  We taught a total of 5 stations all focused on understanding the Saw Kill and the Hudson River.

Fish station!

In water chemistry we took a look at PH, Dissolved Oxygen and temperature. We had fun comparing kit results with the YSI (a digital water quality probe). Another station looked at aquatic life- a great opportunity to get kids in waders as they seined for fish such as sunfish, tessellated darter, stickleback, and a juvenile striped bass–we also found crawdads! The muck group got to dig and splash around as they examined sediment and turbidity. The observation station looked for birds, showed off their artistic talents, and recorded the different trains and tug and barges that passed by. Lastly the watershed group got to discuss how our Saw Kill watershed connects to the larger Hudson River watershed, and compare it to watersheds around the world, like the Volga River, for local to global connections!

Seining for fish

It was a beautiful day on the river. We sang songs, went on a hike, and engaged with science. There was a lot of good learning done, as well as a lot of fun had in the process. Thank you to all of the volunteers for their time and energy, and thank you to the Red Hook high schools for their enthusiasm! Hope to see you all again out in the watershed!

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Blog post by Tierney W and Photos by Tom O’Dowd

A Successful Streamwalk

Last Friday we had a great first streamwalk! Streamwalks are a fun method of visually assessing the waterway on foot, and gathering observational data. This citizen science outing drew a variety of community members and Bard College students. We were able to get up close to the Saw Kill, and generate lots of questions and ideas together as a group.

Finding the mouth of the Saw Kill


We began our adventure where the Saw Kill empties out in to the Tivoli Bays. From there we discussed the different parameters we would be assessing during the walk. We were interested in looking at different physical characteristics of the stream and the surrounding area such as the channel and hydrology, riparian zones, bank erosion, turbidity, barriers (man made and natural) and the presence of fish and insect habitat, pools, riffles, and algae.

Measuring the width and depth

At each stop we made along the river, we measured the channel and depth, and discussed each of the above parameters. Our discussions were diverse; prompting lively debates over what constituted a barrier in the river, lessons on effective riparian zones and recounting the history of this one mile stretch, from past channel diversions to the chocolate factory. A community conversation around the waterway was able to take place literally in it!

Wading through the Saw Kill!

As we traversed the one mile stretch, we were able to walk on trails beside the water, directly in it (the lucky ones in waders faring much better), and eventually along 9G and through a corn field where we lost sight of the river. Overall we were thrilled we were able to stay so close or in the Saw Kill for the majority of the walk. It is a wonderfully accessible portion of the Saw Kill.

Thanks to everyone who came out and volunteered!

We look forward to compiling the data we collected and sharing it with the larger community!

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Having fun at Hardscrabble Day

We had a wonderful time at Hardscrabble day in Red Hook this weekend! It was so great to see the community out and about, and what all of the local businesses and initiatives are up to.

A beautiful sunny day for Hardscrabble day! Thank you to awesome volunteers Sheila, Brent and Gwen!
Saw Kill Critters!
The most popular critter of the day…a Dobsonfly Larvae                                                                     (a smaller aquatic insect–a stonefly–is to its left)
Community members find themselves in the watershed
Community members place themselves on our watershed map

We had folks stop by to put themselves on our watershed map, talk about the upcoming sewer project, and check out our tank full of fun Saw Kill critters. We were so thrilled to see old friends, as well as meet many new community members.

Thanks for a great community event Red Hook!