Fortieth Annual Report of BKAA, October 2012
by Paula Medley, President
May 2012,Eleanor Knieriemen
BKAA’s 40th anniversary via co-sponsoring an art show with the
Wurtsboro Art Alliance, hosting a huge party, where Nature Watch’s 10 years
were recognized and Buff McAllister’s BKAA histories were distributed,
highlighted a benchmark year. As always, the BKAA availed itself of every
opportunity to promote the wetlands and our organization, which ultimately
enhanced networking, outreach, and strengthened educational programs.
BKAA Board: We welcomed new member Linda Lou
Bartle, whose passion, commitment, and creativity have positively influenced
the board. Special thanks to Jon Reed,
who temporarily assumed treasurer responsibilities during our critical
membership drive and anniversary happenings. Regrettably, after twelve years of
service, including stints as treasurer and recording secretary, Susan Erny is
leaving the board. Thanks for everything, Susan!
the Basha Kill Watershed:
This year features the third incarnation of perennial nemesis, Shawanga
Lodge. DPG Home Inspection/Hudson Valley
Mold Remediation opened at the former Moose Lodge, corner of Route 209 and
Haven Road, garnering BKAA concern due to its close proximity to the
wetlands. Sporadic activity ensued with
Yukiguni Maitake and the Homowack, while gas drilling and casinos remained
dangerous threats. 7 Peaks, Commerce
Park at Wurtsboro Airport, and the Basherkill Subdivision maintained holding patterns, waiting for an
improved economy to alight.
Shawanga Lodge: Applicants explained their enormous
project before Mamakating’s Town and Planning Boards on February 21 and
28. Subsequently, the BKAA and
networking partners lobbied “behind the scenes” to halt this proposal. There has been no further public action by
22 - Paula Medley represented the BKAA at a public hearing on the project’s
site plan. Written comment period was
extended to June 5.
25 - Owner David Groskin contacted Paula, further explaining his plans and
mitigating BKAA apprehension.
26 - DPG received conditional site plan approval from the Planning Board.
24 - YM withdrew application for amended pilot plant site plan.
26 - YM appeared before Planning Board requesting approval of amended pilot
plant site plan. Decision was not
rendered as Sullivan County Planning had not conducted its mandatory 239
24 - YM received amended site plan approval.
2012 - Some cleanup occurred at former Homowack Hotel acreage.
2012 - Dangerous structures on several parcels were demolished and the sites
cleared two years after the Town Board issued demolition orders. Mold infested drywall was removed from the
2012 - County foreclosed on 6 parcels, covering 150 acres, due to back taxes
owed by Ulster Mountain and Ulster River Corporations.
Gas Drilling: Jon Reed and Paula Medley attended
DEC’s public hearing on the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement
on fracking. Paula, on behalf of the BKAA, submitted written remarks.
18 - Anita Altman, Gil Kulick, and Dave Colavito viewed gas drilling sites and
impacts during a Cragsmoor Association sponsored field trip to Dimock,
April 14 - the BKAA, with the Cragsmoor
Association, co-sponsored a presentation and discussion of anti-fracking movie
Gasland, at the Cragsmoor Free Library.
BKAA updates members on critical gas drilling information through regular
columns in the Guardian and Action Alerts.
Casinos: This year, bills passed the State
Assembly and Senate, which would amend the State Constitution to allow
legalized gambling in New York. If these
same bills are approved by the Assembly and Senate next year, New Yorkers will
determine legalized gambling’s fate by voting on a referendum in November
2013. Seven non-Indian casinos are
proposed, but their sites have not been publicly disclosed.
Lobbying to Insure
Greater Disclosure: On
October 13 and 20, 2011, Jon and Paula attended meetings of the Sullivan County
Legislature, which voted for increased public accountability by County agencies
as well as all elected Sullivan County officials.
Networking: BKAA carefully nurtured new contacts
and constantly revitalized connections with long-standing friends and
supporters. These priceless
collaborations, with their myriad resources, positively influenced BKAA
BKAA’s representative, Jon Reed provided inestimable assistance to Wurtsboro
Diness and Cathy Dawkins used “Come Clean” resources to continue improving the
garden in front of Wurtsboro’s laundromat.
Additionally, five large planters spruced up the Wurtsboro Antiques
BKAA maintained its affiliation with the Sullivan County Visitors Association
(SCVA), whose website and publications highlight BKAA programs as well as the
wetlands resource. On 12/1/2011, Michael
and Paula attended SCVA’s Annual Meeting and Dinner, while on 5/10/2012, they
participated in a tailgate brochure exchange with other SCVA members at Bethel
BKAA’s continuous presence on the Shawangunk Ridge Coalition has facilitated
critical support and direction regarding Shawanga Lodge.
participated on several teleconferences with members of Friends of the
Environment, a regional environmental group.
joined the newly formed Sullivan-Delaware Environmental Partnership.
Saward is the BKAA’s liaison with Mamakating’s Rural Community Coalition.
networked minimally with politicians this year, though we contacted Congressman
Maurice Hinchey’s office over Shawanga Lodge, and received crucial support from
County Legislator Kathy LaBuda on DPG Home Inspection and Hudson Valley Mold
enjoyed consistent backing and encouragement from loyal supporter Sullivan
County Audubon Society.
Association, Friends of the Shawangunks, New York-New Jersey Trail Conference,
Phillipsport Community Center, and Wurtsboro Art Alliance also were critical
of the BKAA, Paula mentored several environmental groups and individuals from
the Towns of Mamakating, Thompson, and Wawarsing.
Weil, along with Rich Morris and Bill Herrmann, regularly admonished municipal
officials to follow legal processes and introduce greater transparency to
13 and 20 - Jon and Paula attended Sullivan County Legislature meetings where
requiring greater transparency of county agencies and officials was discussed.
14 - Michael and Paula attended Sullivan County Audubon Society’s Annual
16 - Michael and Paula attended Friends of the Shawangunks Annual Meeting in
Rosendale, where Paula addressed developments in the southern “Gunks.”
12 - Michael and Paula represented the BKAA at a Wurtsboro Board of Trade
11 - BKAA, along with Delaware Highlands Conservancy and the Eagle Institute,
co-sponsored two eagle watching field trips on the Delaware.
18 - Anita Altman, Gil Kulick, and Dave Colavito participated in a Cragsmoor
Association sponsored field trip to Dimock, Pennsylvania.
7 - Jackie Broder represented the BKAA at a Non-Profit Summit at Bethel Woods.
13 & May 2 - Paula represented the BKAA at DEC Region 3 Open Space Advisory
14 - BKAA and Cragsmoor Association co-sponsored presentation and discussion of
anti-fracking movie, Gasland, at the Cragsmoor Free Library.
23 - Michael and Paula represented the BKAA at a Mamakating Rotary sponsored
Community Mixer at Mamakating Town Park.
13 - Paula represented the BKAA at a meeting discussing community leader’s
vision for Wurtsboro.
27 - Jack Austin represented the BKAA at the Sullivan Non Profit Coffee Hour in
4 - The Cragsmoor Association honored Paula at its 2nd Hall of Fame
Dinner at the White Wolf in Napanoch.
Twenty-five percent of the proceeds were shared with the BKAA.
4 - The BKAA and Wurtsboro Art Alliance co-sponsored an art show entitled, Celebrating the Basha Kill.
21- Cheryl Hughes, Susan Lavelle, John Haas, Ellen Kalish, Missy Runyan and
husband, as well as Michael Medley networked to try and save a great blue
28 - Paula represented the BKAA at a Sullivan County Tree Keepers Advisory Group.
8 - The BKAA hosted its 40th anniversary party at Mamakating Town
25 - Marcia Briggs Wallace represented the BKAA at a community meeting on
Sullivan County Economic Panning.
Town of Mamakating
Town, Planning, and Zoning
Board meetings were attended on an as needed basis.
Come Clean - by Cathy Dawkins and Patricia Diness
In 2012, leveraging
the success of 2011, we expanded the Laundry garden to include a large new
planter and five additional planters to spruce up the Wurtsboro Antiques
building. The planters are designed to
coordinate with the laundry garden.
These two gardens, in conjunction with the Veteran’s Park, create a warm
image for the village.
11 - BKAA sponsored Ravensbeard “Live Bird Show” for Wurtsboro’s Winterfest.
7 - Anita Altman and Gil Kulick, Susan Erny, Bill Lucas, Jon Reed, Marcia
Briggs Wallace, and the Medleys represented the BKAA at Wurtsboro Founder’s
John Carnevali, Onyxx
Clark, Andrew Fredell, Andrew Guido, and Truth Muller received partial BKAA
scholarships to NYS DEC environmental camps at Camp DeBruce. Brent Miano attended the teenage ecology camp
at Pack Forest in Warrensburg, while Nora Brusinski, sponsored by the BKAA these
past two years, was a “volly,” or volunteer, at Camp DeBruce for one week.
Jack Orth Memorial
Kody Viele, an
environmental sciences major from Sullivan County, was awarded this scholarship
for the Fall, 2012 semester. Eventually,
he hopes to study oceanography at SUNY Maritime.
John Winkler BKAA
Water Testing Program:
This year, there were
three groups of volunteers involved in testing.
The first two, chaired by Jackie Broder, initially included Stephen
Erny, Fred Harding, and Michael Medley, followed by the group of Stephen Erny,
Dan Hayes, Bob Majcher, and Dennis Solow.
Current chair is Linda Lou Bartle, joined by Bill Bradl, Charles and
Karen Harris, Eileen Lake, Cathy Liljquist, Bob Majcher, Karen Miller, Daniel
Smith, Dennis Solow, and Matt Zeitler.
We greatly appreciate everyone’s efforts!
The BKAA continues
its Adopt-A-Natural Resource contract with DEC, enabling us to hold an annual
cleanup, retrieve water samples, and offer onsite educational ventures.
Basha Kill Walks
and Educational Programs:
These activities are
key components of the BKAA’s core mission, which teaches others about the value
of the Basha Kill, Shawangunk Ridge, and surrounding areas, along with ways to
safeguard these resources.
Paula established the
BKAA’s educational agenda for 2012 and assembled the experts who implemented
Lack of snow
cancelled both cross-country outings. Our season began with the inaugural
“Wonderful Waterfowl” walk, led by John Haas, who was joined by 18 participants. Despite overcast skies, Bob Fiore taught 8
about constellations during his “Star Walk.”
John Haas took another 22 on a “Peak Bird Migration” ramble. Michael shepherded 6 hikers up Gobbler’s Knob
and 2 more in late summer along the Shawangunk Ridge. John Kenney’s “Spring Wildflowers” enthralled
6 attendees and his “Blooms and Butterflies,” excited an additional 15. Bill Cutler introduced 15 visitors to
amphibians and reptiles. Once again, the
most prolific, Gary Keeton educated over
20 on two walks featuring D & H Canal History as well as a moonlight
excursion with 5, and a sunrise adventure with 2 early risers. Scott Graber and Michael piloted the first,
hugely popular moonlight venture with 21 vessels, followed several months later
by an event with 14 craft. The new
“Natural History” trip with Jack Austin garnered 9 participants. Our first scheduled hike on the Minisink
Trail at Huckleberry State Forest on the Shawangunk Ridge was guided by Michael
and included 11 intrepid adventurers.
21 - BKAA launched its 31st Annual Basha Kill Cleanup with 80
10 - DEC Senior Wildlife Biologist, Pat Vissering and DEC Biologist Nate Ermer,
invited Michael and Paula to help band baby screech owls.
22 - Ed Morse and Michael introduced Leadership Sullivan Class of 2012 to the
Basha Kill via an on site presentation.
6 - BKAA facilitated American Museum of Natural History group’s outing to the
15 and 29 - Michael organized limited cleanup activities for New Hope Community
residents, participating in a community enrichment program.
3 - Michael assisted a local church congregation with an event to be conducted
at the wetlands.
At this year’s 40th
Anniversary Picnic for the BKAA, the organization recognized the ten years of
service provided by dedicated Nature Watch volunteers. Through this educational
outreach program, Nature Watch volunteers have supplied the BKAA and the DEC
with observations on the nesting bald eagles and ospreys, while also serving as
educational ambassadors for the Basha Kill at a key access point for the
wetland’s recreational users, the South Road boat launch site. The numbers for this year’s educational
outreach program show the program’s continuing success. We had 39 dedicated volunteers who interacted
with 1,275 visitors at the boat launch site on South Road during our 11 week
season which ran on week-ends from mid-April through the end of June.
Nature Watch relies on a team
including Patricia Diness and Maryallison Farley as leaders, with Ed Morse,
John Haas, Gary Keeton and Gene Weinstein as our advisors and most important,
our cadre of wonderful volunteers who cover the Nature Watch shifts at the boat
launch. Thanks to the BKAA for its ongoing support of the program and to the
DEC for oversight of our program.
Other Outreach Events:
March 10 - Jon and Paula represented the BKAA at
Sullivan Renaissance’s Winter Expo at the CVI Center in Ferndale. The BKAA had an informational table at this
April 19 - Paula and the BKAA celebrated Earth
Day at SUNY Orange in Middletown.
April 26 - John and Paula represented the BKAA
at Monticello High School Eco-Club sponsored Third Annual Arbor/Earth Day
May 13 - Paula represented the BKAA at the
Second Annual Tulip Festival and Mother’s Day Celebration at Honor’s Haven in
May 19 - Paula represented the BKAA at the Fifth
Annual Earth and Water Festival at Thomas Bull Memorial Park in Orange County.
August 11 - The BKAA had an informational booth at
the Ellenville-Wawarsing Blueberry Festival.
BKAA coordinator Bill Lucas received great assistance from Anita Altman
and Gil Kulick, Susan Erny, Fred Harding, Jon Reed, and Michael Medley.
September 23 - The Medley’s represented the BKAA
at “Earth Day in Autumn” at Bethel Woods.
November 10 - Michael and Paula attended a film
and discussion on “Liquidity:Exploring the Diversity and Values of Wetlands in
December 15 - Jon and Paula attended Hudson
River Watershed Alliance’s Sixth Annual Conference entitled “Watershed
Management on a Shoestring Budget.”
April 28 - Jon represented the BKAA at Catskill
Regional Invasive Species Partnership informational meeting on Emerald Ash
August 23 - Jon attended a presentation by Laura
Heady on “wildlife habitat and connectivity”, sponsored by Wawarsing’s
Environmental Conservation Committee.
September 18,19 - Michael participated in tree
stewardship workshops held at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Liberty.
“History of the Basha Kill Area
To commemorate this benchmark year,
Buff McAllister pored through countless records and compiled voluminous notes
in documenting the BKAA’s forty year history.
This publication was initially distributed at the Fortieth anniversary
celebration on September 8 and will be an exceptional educational tool for our
members, friends, and foes.
Field Guide to the Basha Kill:
“The Basha Kill Wetlands: a Field Guide” is a pivotal publication educating
readers about the wetlands and generating excitement about this unique
ecosystem. Guides may be purchased at
the Bashakill Vineyards and Canal Towne Emporium in Wurtsboro, Morgan Outdoors
in Livingston Manor, an information venue on the Palisades Parkway, and
online. Books are also available at all
Sullivan County libraries, the Cragsmoor Free Library, Port Jervis Free
Library, and SUNY Orange.
BKAA Brochures: This
brochure persists in being the most widely utilized BKAA public relations tool
and, as such, possesses outstanding value for the organization. It recently underwent a third printing and
now includes a detachable membership form.
Secretary, Recording Secretary and Treasurer: These key board functions
were competently executed by Marcia Briggs Wallace, Susan Erny, and Monique
Lipton/Jon Reed. Thanks for an amazing
commitment of time and energy.
The BKAA recognizes Susan O’Neill’s ongoing
dedication as our public relations guru, writing and distributing all press
Our website, www.thebashakill.org,
produced by Arrow Web Designs, and the Alerts update BKAA programs, supply
general news, and rapidly galvanize members for lobbying purposes. Thanks to Maryallison
Farley for being BKAA’s contact with Arrow Web and kudos to Hattie Grifo for
excellently administering Action/Information Alerts.
personal debt of gratitude goes to Jon Reed for “triaging” all BKAA emails,
thereby keeping Paula “in touch” with the outside world (whether she likes it
The BKAA is part of the Social Network, having a
Facebook page ably administered by Linda Lou Bartle.
Thank you to Liberty Press and Jon Heaphy for
managing The Guardian’s online operation.
Buff McAllister is a Renaissance woman! Not only did she author the BKAA’s history,
but she is the longtime editor of the Guardian, “putting the whole newsletter
together,” including its mailing. Her
Guardian responsibilities have intensified with the newsletter’s increased
prominence as the BKAA’s primary connection to members.
The BKAA experienced minimal
contact with our “technical team” this year except for engineer Andy Willingham
who excellently reviewed YM and DPG site plans.