Follow Up on the
The Streams Flow
Michael Courtney opened the conference by explaining
that The Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program
he works with provides a coordinated approach to stream
protection and management within the Ashokan Reservoir
watershed. Their overall goal is to restore stream
system stability and ecologic integrity while sustaining
viable communities in the watershed. They coordinate
stream management with towns and agencies and provide
stream corridor management plans. Technical assistance
and Stream Projects are offered, as are grants to
towns and local organizations for a variety of projects.
Matching Grants are available (25% of project cost
up to $100,000) such as the Woodland Valley Road Stream
Bank Stabilization, or Mini Grants of up to $5,000
per project, such as the Catskill Center for Conservation
and Development Kiosk Panels or the Trout Unlimited
Leaping Trout Panels you may have seen popping up
around the area.
Elizabeth Higgins, Program Coordinator at Cornell
Cooperative Extension, and Cory Ritz, Stream Project
Manager, Ulster County Soil and Water, provided a
few more details on stream assessments to identify
erosion and clay turbidity on the region's 330 miles
of waterways, which can be mitigated by planting trees
and other forms of vegetation to slow down erosion.
Landowners and municipalities are encouraged to contact
their offices to develop plans for stream corridor
Barbara Kendall from Kendall Stormwater Services provided
good reasons to care about floodplains and stormwater
runoff, giving examples of how building in floodplains
adversely impacts the floodplain. She noted that a
floodplain is actually a storage area for streams
that will overflow their banks during excessive rains
or snow melt. When we allow building in these areas,
we are filling in these storage areas and raising
the level of the flood plain.
Kendall spoke of other ways to help lower impact by
designing natural retention for storm water, mitigating
and filtering heavy water flows, keeping them from
impacting local streams. She said ponds, rain gardens,
and large grassy areas with catch basins designed
to only allow higher levels of water to spill in keep
runoff to a minimum, and allow more of the water to
naturally seep into the ground when the rain event
is over. Another way to reduce impact of runoff, she
said, is to reduce impervious surfaces. Some towns
are reducing road surfaces, which in turn reduces
Art Snyder, Director Ulster County Emergency Management
spoke of the impacts that flooding has in Ulster County.
He pointed out many of the homes that were built in
floodplains that continue to be impacted by rain.
He also noted how foolish it was for the Kingston
Board of Education to consider building a new High
School in an area known for it's flooding.
Snyder also spoke to some uses of floodplains that
are considered good - things such as recreation fields,
driving ranges, farming that are not adversely affected
by occasional high water levels. Snyder stressed the
need to stop permanent development in these areas.
He pointed out that in many areas, buyout programs
are in place to help homeowners in flood prone areas
Natalie Brown, NYS Dept. of Conservation, gave a short
presentation concerning required permitting when working
in and around streams, as well as new rules that took
effect May 1 regarding disturbances that might affect
five or more acres of land - such as in a realty subdivision.
Joe Damrath, who heads up the NYC Dept. of Environmental
Protection's Stormwater Regulations, provided information
about various sections of the law that cover impervious
surfaces, pointing out that impervious surfaces include
your roof, paved driveways and parking lots - any
surface that does not allow for water to drain through
it. No new impervious surfaces may be within 100'
of a watercourse or state wetland, or within 300'
of a reservoir or controlled lake. However, these
regulations are less strict if the property falls
within a village or designated, so as to help communities
within the watershed remain viable.
The conference later broke into afternoon sessions
that addressed Municipal Floodplain Policies, Home
Stormwater Protection, identified funding agencies,
spoke about driveway and culvert "Best Practices."
For full information on all topics discussed, and
links, visit www.ashokanstreams.org.
On Trucking, Now
freak moon rose in the sky like a sun each night, looming
into our windows and forcing us awake. It was probably
just a personal invitation to the Full Moon Resort in
Big Indian, where the Truck Festival's debut weekend in
this country offered hundreds of people true escape.
There is something magical about the land there, and the
Oliverea Valley proved the perfect setting for the Truck
production, which originated in the UK and is somewhat
peerless in its simple integrity: Three days of more than
ten bands and solo performers and quirky films each, all
day long day and into the night, some people camping.
There were three stages-including a cozy tent, a gorgeous
hayloft and a saloonesque bar, and everything moved smoothly.
It had the feeling of an enchanted campus, with children
bopping about, little groups breaking into song around
campfires, all against the tree frogs and night birds,
and the stars.
We sampled here and there and got steeped in a mini retrospective
of Mercury Rev's dense and melodic non-linear narratives,
brought to even greater levels of emotional intelligence
with conducted orchestra. Everything was so fluid you
could see rainbow fish swimming through it.
Heard Gary Louris was amazing, but missed him, and could
have missed the whole event because it was so subtly (not)
promoted, and that seemed to work out just fine.
Loved Cat Martino, who sings about nature like she has
the blood of trees inside her, and fave moment of the
night was a group of people doing a full out acoustic
ukelele version of Outkast's "Hey Ya."
This is obviously a venture fueled by a vision, and that
vision is way more about music than money, and putting
things together... so there is a real vibe, and in this
case, it was good enough to take back home and keep running
Monday, and the world at large, lost some of its power
Vote May 18
of the $50,022,026 school budget is now on file at
the district's schoolhouses from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
every day prior to May 18 except Saturdays and Sundays.
The document is also available at the town libraries
in the towns of Hurley, Olive, Phoenicia, West Hurley,
and Woodstock during regular library business hours.
Voting will take place from 2pm to 9pm at all four
elementary school polling centers. Kindergarten-through-grade
six students will have an early dismissal at 1 p.m.
A special meeting of the board will follow, at approximately
9:30pm at the Onteora Middle-High School in Boiceville,
to accept the vote's cast.
In proposition one, voters will be asked to approve
the 2010/2011 Onteora district budget that includes
$20,000 to support public libraries.
In proposition two, voters will be asked to approve
$35,000 for the purchase of a seven passenger bus
to replace a vehicle over ten years old with over
200,000 miles clocked on it.
Two three-year board of education seats will also
be on the ballot. Incumbents Tom Hickey's and Rob
Kurnit's names appear on the ballot with no contesting
Over the past three months, the board worked on what
was described as one of the district's most difficult
budgets to date. Driving matters was an increase in
employee health care premiums of 14.9 percent, increase
of retirement contributions from 6.19 percent to 8.62
percent, coupled with a loss of State Aid at $658,000
and loss of interest revenue of $100,000.
In order to find a tax levy that was palatable with
the voters, the board needed to make deeps cuts or
face a double-digit tax levy. It settled upon a .31
percent budget increase and a 3.9 percent tax levy.
This created a budget shortfall of over $2 million.
As the budget took shape, programs, staff and administrators
were reviewed. No stone was left unturned when it
came to reductions or cuts. As School Board President
Laurie Osmond said, "Everything is on the table."
After reworking the budget and taking advantage of
savings through staff retirements, some programs that
were initially cut from the budget were restored or
trimmed. Also, additional savings were found through
cuts in the district's administration budget.
Overall, 11.5 teaching positions will be eliminated.
This includes GED, speech, special educators and a
middle school team. Out of the eleven full time teachers,
six retired and five were laid off. Twelve non-teaching
positions will be eliminated. Out of that group, four
retired and eight will be laid-off.
Other cuts include high school after school homework
help, INDIE, technology and cheerleading. The INDIE
program that was once a popular alternative school
for kids who do not always fit into the traditional
school setting lost its remaining $50,000. Over the
years the program had a slow chipping away of its
funding. Once located next to the high school, it
is now an after school program located in Woodstock.
Its future at this point is uncertain.
Some programs and staff initially on the chopping
block have since been restored. This includes ta Librarian,
Music Teacher, Marching Band, Color Guard, Volleyball,
Golf and Indoor Track. The Gifted and Talented program
will be partially restored.
If voters were to reject the budget two times, then
a contingency budget would be put into a place at
a 2.85 percent tax levy and zero budget increase.
Programs once slated for elimination would be cut,
including additional programs such as JV sports.
While most observers expect such reviews to yield more
stringent parameters than those which will apply elsewhere
in the state, some believe their costs, complexity,
and contentiousness will ultimately prohibit drilling
here in the city's watershed. Mayor Bloomberg and City
Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner
Cas Calloway seemed pleased by the state's announcement,
with the Mayor issuing a statement saying "We firmly
believe that drilling cannot be permitted in the City's
watershed. We are confident that the additional reviews
now required for any drilling proposal in the watershed
will lead the State to the same conclusion."
Two regional advocacy groups, Tarrytown-based Riverkeeper
and the Arkville-based Catskill Center for Conservation
and Development also issued statements applauding the
decision. But the rest of the environmental community
appears warily uncertain over the state agency's latest
In September 2009, DEC issued some 800 pages of new
draft guidelines called a Supplemental Generic Environmental
Impact Statement (SGEIS). Intended to regulate all new
deep-well gas drilling statewide and its extraction
process known as hydrofracturing or "fracking,"
the document was, on arrival, controversial. As this
new technology has proven a toxic threat to surface
water resources elsewhere, most environmental and public
health advocates have stressed the need for a thorough,
go-slow regulatory approach.
When released last fall, the SGEIS was widely criticized
(including by this newspaper) for providing inadequate
review procedures and environmental protections. As
DEC began sifting some14,000 public comments, it appeared
the long-understaffed agency was taking the issue back
to the drawing board. But in a surprise move last month,
Commissioner Grannis announced that revisions would
be completed by the end of this year, allowing for the
permitting in early 2011 of 58 pending drilling applications,
most in Sullivan County, with thousands more anticipated
across a five county region of the southern Catskills
and the Route 17 and I-86 corridor. That region's infrastructure
now includes the massive new Millenium natural gas Pipeline,
currently completed as far south as Tuxedo, NY where
it connects with the Northeast's existing pipeline infrastructure.
Plans call for future connection to an offshore LNG
tanker port facility to be built in the Long Island
Less than enthused, however, by the state's new separation
of watershed from non-watershed review procedures were
a broad range of environmental groups. Kate Sinding,
a senior attorney for tthe Natural Resources Defense
Council (NRDC) said "we fear this move greases
the skids for drilling in the remainder of the state
without adequate examination of the impacts...but we
are also concerned it risks giving New York City residents
a false sense of security...this announcement does little
or nothing to actually protect the drinking water supplies
for New York City...it removes the onus (on DEC) from
responding to the devastating comments on impacts to
the watershed prepared by the city's DEP, the US Environmental
Protection agency.. and others... The only responsible
decision from the state is to issue a full ban on gas
drilling in the New York City drinking water supply,
and to restart the environmental review for the rest
of the state."
Statements offering similar analysis of DEC's announcement
were issued by Delaware Riverkeeper and the Citizen's
Campaign for the Environment. "DEC's announcement
does not provide any protections for the two watersheds"
reads the former group's press release, which calls
on the agency to "pull back the fatally flawed
draft and ban all drilling in the state while these
essential issues are addressed."
"This is an attempt to take the watershed issue
off the table without actually dealing with it, to fast-track
drilling for the rest of us" said Ramsay Adams,
Executive Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper. "And
it's not even protecting the watersheds. It's bad on
both levels. It appears as if the DEC is trying to give
the impression that there won't be drilling in the watersheds
to remove political pressure from New York City...It
also appears they decided to exclude the watersheds
from their final GEIS, so that they won't have to address
the comments from the comprehensive scientific study
prepared by NYC DEP. We are calling on the Governor
and DEC to withhold any final report until all the scientific
evidence now being gathered can be thoroughly evaluated."
That evidence, notably, includes a major study recently
commissioned by the US Environmental Protection Agency,
a study which is expected to result in new federal regulations
for the industry that would ultimately supercede any
state regulations. The results of that EPA study are
regarded as so critical to global energy markets that
Russian President Medvedev recently announced his country
had curtailed any expansion of its own natural gas production
infrastructure, the world's largest, pending its completion
As things stand, DEC has to date neither banned nor
restricted natural gas drilling within New York City's
1,600 square mile West-of Hudson watershed, including
all of our readership area. And although last year one
producer, Chesapeake Energy, voluntarily announced it
wouldn't seek to drill here, no statutory restrictions
exist to this day. Based on the fact that last fall's
SGEIS reached the conclusion that gas drilling in the
watershed presents "no realistic threat" to
the quality or safety of the City's drinking water,"
few observers anticipate that the state will be taking
the lead on protecting the City's water supply. Ultimately
that authority rests with the State Department of Health
and the US EPA.
At this moment an outright ban on drilling anywhere
in the state seems unlikely. Landowner and property
rights groups are widely believed ready to challenge
such a move as a governmental "taking" of
property, together with political allies including State
Senator Bonacic and the gas industry itself. As legal
actions such as this would likely delay by years any
exploitation of gas resources statewide, some believe
the City's acceptance of DEC's newly bifurcated review
structure in place of an outright ban reflects an informal
arrangement between state regulators, city government,
and energy interests.
"There's much that New York can learn from the
problems in Pennsylvania, which is now revising major
parts of their environmental regulations" said
EarthJustice's Deborah Goldberg of the situation. "Instead
of leaping before we look, we should carefully examine
what's happened in other states. And we should fully
understand the technologies and best management practices
that will protect public health and our environment
before we issue a single permit."
Whether that will somehow be sorted out by next winter
when the first drilling permits could be issued, we'll
keep you posted.
Jar Of Olives
May Day! May Day!
The whole time in the ER, Bruce kept saying, "Poor Carol"
over and over. I kept thinking, "Poor Bruce." I just
have to take pain pills and sleep off the narcotics. He has
to be ME at the same time as he has to try to be HIM.
So I am typing with only my left hand under the influence of
Percocet hoping that my hand and brain connect long enough to
write this column. Synonyms like terse, short, direct are not
my writing style. Perhaps the universe is saying, as Bruce Miller
and Jeff Fisher taught us, "The shortest distance between
two points is a straight line." Lately the only lines I
am making is from the couch to the royal throne,
Someone called and asked how I felt. My answer was, "I
feel like most of the seven dwarves: Grumpy, Sleepy, Dopey...certainly
not Happy. However, I am fortunate to have good health insurance,
a family nearby, and to be retired. I can't imagine a young
mother like Gina Kothe managing with this injury.
The Samsonville United Methodist Church will have a Mother's
Day Pancake Breakfast, this Saturday, May 8th, from 7-11. There
will be a Free-will offering with moms eating free. Money raised
will go towards vacation bible school, yarn for prayer shawl
ministry, and Olive food pantry.
Onteora Babe Ruth Baseball season has started. Our opening day
festivities will be on Saturday, May 15th, at Davis Park. Game
times are 11, 2:30, and 5. The 5 PM game is the start of our
Senior Babe Ruth Program which was created this season to give
kids ages 16-18 the opportunity to still play baseball. Come
out and eat a hotdog and watch some great kids playing baseball.
Supervisor Bert Leifeld, now recovered from back surgery, will
throw out the first pitch.
Goggle Onteora Babe Ruth and this will bring up our website
with complete schedule and other information. Also find a player
and buy a raffle ticket for chance to win four tickets to Mets/Yankees
inter-league game, June 18th, with limousine ride. Great seats!!
The Olive American Legion Post 1627 is asking families of Olive
veterans who would like family members to be remembered on the
memorial kiosk with a plaque to submit full name, branch of
service, and approximate date of service, along with a $10.00
check for engraving to Purdy Halstead, 1721 County Road 2, Olivebridge,
New York, 12461. This request includes Legion member and all
other veterans who live in, or once lived in, the Town of Olive.