A Windham Path Streamwalk (with scientists)

On a recent Saturday morning that was balmy and bright down in the valley and downright chilly up in the mountaintop clouds, John Thompson of the Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) and Julia Solomon of the Streamside Acquisition Program (SAP) geeked out about all things streamside on a guided walk with intrepid participants who, fortunately, brought plenty of both warm layers and burning questions.

The walk, held at the Windham Path on the Batavia Kill stream, was the first public collaboration between CRISP and SAP, both programs of the Catskill Center.

Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership Coordinator, John Thompson examines a Hemlock

Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership Coordinator, John Thompson examines a Hemlock

CRISP is a cooperative partnership of diverse stakeholders throughout the Catskill region whose mission is to promote education, prevention, early detection, and control of invasive species to limit their impact on the ecosystems and economies of the Catskills. In addition to conducting public outreach and management activities, CRISP supports research on ecological impact and effective controls of invasive species.

SAP is a partnership project between the Catskill Center and New York City to reach a shared goal: protect the streamside, forested lands and floodplains that are essential for maintaining Catskill streams’ excellent water quality.  Through this program, the Catskill Center works with interested landowners in the Schoharie Basin to acquire vacant streamside property at market value for ownership by New York City. The acquired land is then set aside for preservation as natural, forested ‘buffers’ and floodplains, which can help mitigate flood risk, provide wildlife habitat, and offer recreational opportunities, in addition to protecting water quality. 

To understand the potential synergy between these two programs, look no further than to the hemlock woolly adelgid, a nasty insect pest that is threatening hemlock forests throughout the Catskills.

Hemlock forests help protect water quality and provide shade for streamside land year-round, which helps keep our trout waters cool. If Julia sends a letter to the owner of a property with streamside hemlock woods who decides not to sell their land, but wants to know how to care for their streamside property, she can refer them to John, who can train the landowner to help in monitoring for hemlock woolly adelgids and other invasive pests. Conversely, if John has been working with a streamside landowner on invasive projects, and that owner is considering selling their land, John can refer them to Julia to discuss permanent protection options.

Ultimately, both programs work to build awareness of the fact that Catskill streams - and the lands that surround them - are important, vulnerable, and pretty darn amazing. The folks who spent two hours getting muddy while learning about everything from knotweed to milkweed and erosion to easements definitely went home with a deeper appreciation of all those things.

— Julia Solomon

Catskill Digest- September 7th

This week on Catskill Digest on WIOX Moe and Jeff talk hurricanes and upcoming events in the Catskills. 

Be sure to tune in at 9am to catch us live and local on WIOX 91.3fm or streaming at wioxradio.org

Catskill Digest is a weekly show on WIOX radio (91.3FM) hosted by Jeff Senterman, Executive Director of the Catskill Center and Moe Lemire, the Executive Director of the Pine Hill Community Center every Thursday morning from 9 to 10am.

Giant Hogweed Wrap Up

John Thompson of CRISP

This month, the Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) team wrapped up their 2017 giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) control season.

CRISP annually partners with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to control giant hogweed plants around the Catskills watershed. CRISP staff respond to reports of giant hogweed in the region, and kill the plant when it occurs. This year CRISP staff responded to 13 infestations, and removed approximately 750 stems of this dangerous invasive over the 3.2 million acres of the CRISP region.

Giant hogweed, native to the Caucasus region of Southern Russia, is a highly dangerous invasive plant. It was intentionally introduced to the United States for garden use, and since the 1900’s, has readily spread across the East and West coasts of the United States. This plant has become notorious around the US for its dangerous sap and immense growth form.

Nico Hogweed.jpg

The sap of giant hogweed is famous for causing extreme photodermatitis. It contains a chemical called furanocoumarin, which binds with DNA in skin. After exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun, cell death occurs, which can be expressed as severe burns and blisters. In rare cases, exposed skin can remain sensitive to the sun in this manner for several years. If it is exposed to the eyes, the sap can also cause blindness.

Treatment for exposure involves cleaning the potentially affected skin as soon as possible with soap and water, and keeping subsequent sun exposure to a minimum for a few days. Seek medical advice as soon as possible if inflammation occurs; it is also possible that prescription steroid creams can help reduce the damage.

H. mantegazzianum grows to be roughly 16 feet tall, with large deeply lobed and jagged leaves up to 5 feet wide, though it can take several years to grow this big. Its flowers grow in a large umbrella shape up to 3 feet in diameter. Young hogweed plants can be confused for a native lookalike in cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum). Luckily, you can tell the two apart in several ways. In addition to giant hogweed leaves and flowers growing much larger than those of cow parsnip, hogweed stems will have significant purple splotching, particularly at the leaf nodes, while cow parsnip will typically have a mostly green stem. Giant hogweed will also have conspicuous, coarse white hairs growing at the leaf nodes and undersides of the leaves, while cow parsnip’s hairs will be much finer.

If you think you have seen giant hogweed, or have questions about the plant, please contact dsnider@catskillcenter.org.

Alert: New Mile-A-Minute Infestation Found in Woodstock

Mile-A-Minute (Persicaria perfoliata) is a highly invasive, herbaceous annual vine native to eastern Asia.  It was unintentionally introduced via contaminated soil into the United States in Pennsylvania and Maryland in the 1930’s.

Mile-A-Minute4.jpg

It is a very aggressive invader, earning its common name by its fast growth — the plant can climb up  to six inches a day!  It grows as a vine, using its spines to climb over other plants, and it reproduces by seed.

Mile-a-minute weed is a prolific seeder. It flowers from late summer through October, so can produce many fruit during one season.  Fall frost kill the vines, but the seeds overwinter in the soil. Seeds can be viable in the soil for up to 6 years and germinate at a high rate. Ugh.

Mile-a-minute colonizes disturbed areas along forest edges, wetlands, stream banks and roadsides. It thrives in full sun and prefers high soil moisture.  Mile-a-minute outcompetes native species by its rapid growth and its ability to grow over other plants and steal their sun.  It often grows in streamside habitats and because the seeds can float, the seeds can be carried downstream, which spread the plant to previously un-infested areas.  The main vector for seed dispersal are birds that eat the fruits and deposit the seeds in their droppings, as well as other animals that ingest the seeds and distribute them in their travels.

Mile-a-minute vines have alternate, light green triangular leaves, 4 to 7 cm long and 5 to 9 cm wide. The vines are light green and become reddish as they mature. The vine stems and the undersides of leaves are covered with recurved barbs that help it to hold onto objects and climb. A unique feature of mile-a-minute is that it has 1-2 cm diameter round, flat leaves, called “ocreae,“ which circle the stems at the nodes. Ripe fruits are blue.

The newly discovered population of this plant in the Town of Woodstock is spread over an area of about ¾ acre.  Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) staff are working with the landowner to treat this population and are concerned that there may be other populations.  Mile-a-minute is widespread in the lower Hudson Valley, but this is only the second population that we know about in the CRISP region, with the other CRISP infestation along the Delaware River.  The closest known population to the Woodstock patch is 18 miles away in the Town of Esopus, outside of the CRISP region, in the Lower Hudson Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management region.

With early detection, eradication is possible. Volunteers and home owners are enormously important to slowing the spread of this aggressive invasive plant. We need your eyes to spot and report new patches of Mile-A-Minute. 

If you think you have Mile-A-Minute on your property or would like to volunteer to help with control projects, please contact The Catskills Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) 

Catskill Digest- August 17th

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This week on Catskill Digest on WIOX Moe and Jeff are joined by Cyndi Lapierre of the MountainTop Historical Society. 

Be sure to tune in at 9am to catch us live and local on WIOX 91.3fm or streaming at wioxradio.org

Catskill Digest is a weekly show on WIOX radio (91.3FM) hosted by Jeff Senterman, Executive Director of the Catskill Center and Moe Lemire, the Executive Director of the Pine Hill Community Center every Thursday morning from 9 to 10am.

Catskill Digest- August 3rd 2017

This week on Catskill Digest on WIOX Moe and Jeff explore what happens when you wander off the trail. 

Be sure to tune in at 9am to catch us live and local on WIOX 91.3fm or streaming at wioxradio.org

Catskill Digest is a weekly show on WIOX radio (91.3FM) hosted by Jeff Senterman, Executive Director of the Catskill Center and Moe Lemire, the Executive Director of the Pine Hill Community Center every Thursday morning from 9 to 10am.

Celebrating Adventure NY and Improvements to the Kenneth Wilson State Campground

Celebrating Adventure NY and Improvements to the Kenneth Wilson State Campground

On Friday, July 21, 2017, we had the opportunity to join with our friends at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, local elected officials and many representatives of Catskill organizations to celebrate the Governor Cuomo's Adventure NY program, which seeks to expand access to healthy, active outdoor recreation; connect people with nature and the outdoors; protect New York's natural resources; and boost local economies.