Community walk along the Saw Kill

Last week we had an awesome walk along the portion of the Saw Kill that runs through Bard campus with ecologist Gretchen Stevens from Hudsonia. It was a beautiful summer night, and a great opportunity to catch up with old friends, and meet some new faces. It was wonderful to see families, students, folks from different Hudson Valley environmental groups, and community members from Red Hook and Milan all out together.

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Our conversation, as we stopped at different points along the Saw Kill, focused on the ecology of the river and the much discussed micro-hydro project. Gretchen confirmed what we all know to be true, that our Saw Kill is a unique and special environment. It happens to be home to unique bird species such as the migrating Louisiana Waterthrush, and the Winter Wren. We also looked at rare plant species like the American Spikenard. We talked about the trout species, such as brown trout, that make their home in the Saw Kill. This ties into recent conversations on stream classification as the Saw Kill is designated class T for trout, as well as class B. And my favorite Hudson Estuary fish, the American Eel, got a special mention as we took a look at the eel bucket/ladder system on one of the existing dams.

saw kill watershed community july monthly meeting 2

Many questions on the feasibility of a micro-hydro project, and consequences of such a project or dam removal were discussed. A group, that presented to the SKWC in February, has been putting together information on the possibility of micro hydro on one of the old dams along the Saw Kill. For the minutes of that meeting see here. This is an ongoing community conversation that is addressing questions surrounding habitat, migration, eel accessibility, sediment loading, flow, etc. in order to understand the effects of such a project.

saw kill watershed community july monthly meeting 3

Along with all of the information gained, it was a wonderful opportunity to not just talk about the Saw Kill but experience the Saw Kill as a community.

We look forward to seeing everyone again at our next meeting, Wednesday, August 16th.

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Summertime along the Saw Kill

Our water monitoring program is year round, and in full swing this summer. If you haven’t gotten the chance to get up close to the Saw Kill with fellow community volunteers to collect samples and record observations, this summer is a great chance!

summer saw kill watershed community sampling

We are lucky our watershed is located in the beautiful Hudson Valley. Volunteer snapshots show off what a beautiful waterway we have, and why we’re so determined to protect it. Get out in the sunshine and in to your water way by becoming a volunteer in the water monitoring program. Our next sampling day is Friday, August 11th and we would love to see you there!

summer saw kill watershed community sampling 3

For more information and questions, contact Tierney (SKWC intern) at tw4287@bard.edu.

summer saw kill watershed community sampling 2

Taking our community meeting to the Saw Kill

We hope everyone is enjoying the summer months and getting plenty of time to explore the watershed. The weather is too nice to ignore, so we are taking our monthly community meeting outside and to the Saw Kill!

saw kill watershed community skwc water sampling

Please join us this Wednesday, July 19th from 6:30-7:30pm. We will be walking along the portion of Saw Kill Creek that runs through Bard campus with Hudsonia naturalist Gretchen Stevens. This is an exciting opportunity to learn more about the ecology of the Saw Kill, take a look at one of the dams, and spend some time together outdoors as a community. Families are welcome!

If you would like more information, please email Tierney (SKWC intern) at tw4287@bard.edu.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Waterway Protection: A Toolkit for Youth Leaders Around the World

Eco-Toolkit

Water: A global connector of communities around the world.  As populations increase, communities must collaborate to ensure continued access to clean drinking water.  As Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, writes in the 2016 World Water Development Report, “water is essential to decent jobs and sustainable development. Now is the time to increase investments in protecting and rehabilitating water resources, including drinking water, as well as sanitation while focusing on generating employment.” The question is: How will the future caretakers of the world–the youth of our global community–learn how to protect water?

A team from the Saw Kill Watershed Community (SKWC), the Bard College Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), and Environmental and Urban Studies (EUS) program at Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson, New York) worked in collaboration with the student-led Eco-Squad of Astrakhan State University (Astrakhan, Russia), to establish a trans-national partnership based on the shared values of stewardship and environmental education for the protection of waterways. The team worked together over 10 months to create activities that engage youth in protecting water starting in the communities close to the Hudson and Volga River watersheds where Bard College and Astrakhan are located.

The materials are a compilation of cross-cultural education and stewardship activities that can help teachers, professors, educators and community leaders creatively engage young people both in and out of the classroom. The activities contained in this Toolkit reflect the combined efforts of all members of the team and are written in such a manner to reach a wide, international audience and to use in any community.

To download a copy in English or Russian, click a link below:

Note: This is a blog post about the US-Russia Exchange. These documents will be permanently filed here: https://sawkillwatershed.wordpress.com/waterway-protection-a-toolkit-for-youth-leaders-around-the-world/

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

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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!

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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!

 

An Unfinished History of the “by no means beautiful village of Annandale”

In 1988 an employee of Historic Hudson Valley (then owners of the Montgomery Place) wrote a 79-page history of Annandale, the hamlet near the mouth of the Saw Kill. With many maps and juicy details from historic documents, Pamela Goddard lays out a story of mills, farms, and estates developed, divided up, and passed from one generation of European-Americans to another. In the process the place names and the people’s names change, but you can recognize the old familiar Saw Kill through the many changes. To read more, download An Unfinished History of the “by no means beautiful village of Annandale”.

Saw Kill 1881 Map.png
“Map of Rhinebeck, previous to 1812” published in E.M. Smith’s History of Rhinebeck, 1881. As described in An Unfinished History of the “by no means beautiful village of Annandale” by Pamela Goddard, of Historic Hudson Valley, 1988