Learn about the natural and cultural history of Catskill Mountain streams at the 5th Annual Ashokan Watershed Conference

Olivebridge, NY – “Flowing Through Time: Streams and Catskill Mountain Communities” offers an opportunity to learn how local streams have influenced the development of towns, industries, and arts in the region. Topics also address the concern of climate change on the watershed and current scientific approaches tostream management, with a focus on protecting communities.

The conference will be held Saturday, April 5, 2014 at the Ashokan Center located at 477 Beaverkill Road in Olivebridge, NY. Municipal training credit will be provided for some sessions. For more information or to register online visit or call 845-688-3047.

Local author and historian, Bill Birns, Ph.D., will address the history of the Catskills as the home of innovation in science, technology and industry, with a focus on the Upper Esopus Creek. From tanneries to railroads to the development of American tourism, the Catskills were at the root of it all—including the birth of the early environmental movement.

Dr. Birn’s topics are as richly varied as the role the Catskills played in the Revolutionary War, the construction of the Ashokan Reservoir, and the Catskills as the birthplace of a distinctly unique school of American arts and letters. The works of the Hudson River School of painters and the Catskill-centric stories of Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper are examples of how the Catskills influenced American culture with lasting impact.

Trends in climate and hydrology will be presented by Allan Frei, Ph.D., of Hunter College, City University of New York. He will look at shifts in the timing, magnitude and type of precipitation in the Catskills and the frequency of extreme hydrologic events. Understanding these factors is the key to developing effective flood mitigation and stream management measures.

Roy Schiff, Ph.D., Water Resource Engineer with Milone & MacBroom, will present how streams physically work to transport water, sediment and woody debris, and how past stream management approaches have impacted current methods. He will explore river corridor planning and applied stream management projects, including case studies from the State of Vermont; a region with a similar topography, geology, and land-use history to the Catskills.

Conference participants will have the option of choosing different tracks in the afternoon. One is “How to Read and Interpret Flood Insurance Rate Maps.” Another session will feature Stephen DiRienzo, Warning Coordination Meteorologist from the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Albany who will explain what factors result in extreme rainfall in the Ashokan Watershed and what warning information the NWS provides. There also will be a panel of stream experts available to answer questions and to discuss their views on the current challenges of stream management.

Ending the day, there will be a choice of a guided nature hike through the 350 million year old Cathedral Gorge or a presentation on early American artists who fished and painted in the Catskills, given by Ed and Judy Van Put. Ed is the author of Trout Fishing in the Catskills, the definitive history of the sport and how it developed in the region.

The Ashokan Watershed Conference is held annually by the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program. The Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program is a partnership between Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County, the Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District, and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.

For more information about Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County’s community programs and events visit our online calendar at connected to CCEUC. “Friend” us on Facebook and “Follow” us on Twitter. CCEUC provides equal program and employment opportunities. Please contact the CCE Phoenicia office at 845-688-3047 if you have any special needs.