Forty First Annual Report of BKAA, October 2013
by Paula Medley, President
May 2012,Eleanor Knieriemen
opportunist, the BKAA utilized each occasion to promote the wetlands and our
organization, which ultimately enhanced networking, outreach, and our
BKAA Board: We welcomed new member Christine
Saward, who assumed the critical role of recording secretary. Regrettably, after seven years of service,
including stints as treasurer and email coordinator, Jon Reed leaves the board. Thanks for everything, Jon!
the Basha Kill Watershed:
A “see-saw” year commenced with the resurrection of 7 Peaks and Commerce Park
at Wurtsboro Airport followed by their immediate disappearance from public
view. In May, the horrendous China City
Project reared its “ugly head,” first in Mamakating and Thompson and then
solely in Thompson, precipitating the BKAA’s immediate involvement, which
remains ongoing. Sporadic activity
ensued with Yukiguni Maitake and the Homowack, while gas drilling and casinos
remain dangerous threats.
• May 15 and 23 - Presentations before
Towns of Thompson and Mamakating generate a major “letters in opposition”
writing campaign to officials and newspapers.
• August 28 - Town of Thompson Planning
Board voted to be lead agency in an endeavor that would be constructed only in
Thompson but drastically impact Mamakating’s resources and residents. Another round of letter writing urged DEC to
assume lead agency in China City’s environmental review.
• January 8 - Applicant updated Mamakating
Planning Board on development’s status, which involves completing a Final
Environmental Impact Statement.
• February-March - BKAA consultants wrote
letters to the Shawangunk Journal challenging 7 Peaks supposed improvements.
• January 8 - Applicant reviewed
undertaking’s situation and need for a Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
• 10/11/2012 - YM applied for building
permit, but has not yet received one.
• October, 2012 - State Appeals Court upheld
Mamakating’s denial of property tax exemption.
• December - Private auction of some
parcels held; none were sold.
• Present Day - $275,000 in back taxes
still owed. If not paid by January 2014, foreclosure proceedings will commence.
Governor Cuomo has
yet to decide whether to prevent fracking in New York State. A human health assessment on high volume
slickwater hydraulic fracturing is being conducted by the New York State Health
Commission. The State’s Court of Appeals
will determine if towns can legally ban fracking via zoning regulations.
For a second
consecutive year, the state legislature voted to amend the state constitution
to permit non-Indian casinos, causing a referendum to be placed on the ballot
System Recommended to be Regional Priority Conservation Project in NYS 2013
Open Space Conservation Plan:
Paula Medley and Jill Weyer, Acting Commissioner for Sullivan County Division
of Planning and Environmental Management, advocated for the Basha Kill’s
enhanced designation during meetings 0n 2/26, 3/21, 4/21, and 5/21.
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 accomplishments.
• As BKAA’s representative, Jon Reed
provided inestimable assistance to Wurtsboro Renaissance.
• Cathy Dawkins and Patricia Diness
networked with property owner David Groskin to create a gorgeous “Gateway to
the Bashakill” garden on the old Moose Lodge site.
• The BKAA maintained affiliation with
Sullivan County Visitors’ Association (SCVA), whose website and publications
highlight our programs and the wetlands ecosystem. On May 23, Michael Medley and Paula
participated in SCVA’s Annual Literature Exchange at Fort Delaware.
• While the Shawangunk Ridge Coalition
(SRC) now functions on an “as needed” basis, SRC’s support and direction are
critical, particularly with 7 Peaks.
• BKAA participated on several
teleconferences with Friends of the Environment, a regional environmental
• BKAA became a partner of Trailkeeper, a
coalition of Sullivan County organizations who promote their events on a
• BKAA joined Coalition for the Delaware
Watershed and Paula attended its 1st Annual Meeting and Conference,
“A Watershed United,” from 6/10-11.
• Christine Saward is the BKAA’s liaison
with Mamakating’s Rural Community Coalition.
• BKAA networked with politicians over the
China City project. Sullivan County Legislative Majority Leader Kathleen LaBuda
was extremely helpful as was legislator Jonathan Rouis.
• BKAA enjoyed consistent backing from
loyal supporters Sullivan County Audubon Society and the Rock Hill Neighborhood
• Due to the China City threats, we
received incredible assistance from Yankee Lake Preservation Association, many
of whose members joined the BKAA! Masten
Lake’s Mamakating Park Property Owners’ Civic Association, Inc, and Wanasink
Lake Club, Inc. likewise helped.
• New York-New Jersey Trail Conference,
Phillipsport Community Center, Wurtsboro Board of Trade, and DEC also were key
• On behalf of the BKAA, Paula mentored
several groups and individuals from Mamakating, Thompson, and Wawarsing.
• October 11, 2012 - Michael and Paula
attended Sullivan County Audubon Society’s Annual Meeting.
• October 14 - Paula represented BKAA at
Gary Keeton’s presentation on “Basha Kill and the Lenape Queen Basha” at Town
of Deerpark Museum.
• October 21 - Michael and Paula attended
Friends of the Shawangunks Annual Meeting.
• October 25 - Alva Jones and Paula
represented BKAA at Sullivan-Delaware Partnership Meeting in Youngsville.
• November - BKAA networked with DEC on
lead mine contamination.
• November 15 - Jon Reed represented the
BKAA at a public hearing on the Sullivan County Visitors’ Association, held
during a special meeting of the Sullivan County Legislature.
• December 14 - BKAA submitted written
comments on Town of Deerpark’s proposed zoning amendments.
• December 18 - Michael and Paula attended
the Wurtsboro Board of Trade’s (WBOT) Holiday Mixer at Valley Brook in
• March 6, 2013 - Jackie Broder attended
Sullivan County Non-Profit Summit at Bethel Woods.
• June - BKAA collaborated with WBOT and
Wurtsboro Renaissance on a “Welcome to Wurtsboro” banner.
• July 12 - Michael and Paula attended
Sullivan County Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Centennial Celebration
• July 15 - Michael and Paula took Sona
Mason from New York-New Jersey Trail Conference on a Bashakill tour.
• July 28 - Paula presided over a BKAA
informational table at a Chapin Estate brunch.
Town, Planning, and
Zoning Board meetings were attended on an as needed basis.
Gateway to the Basha Kill Project
2013: Wrote grant request for Sullivan
Renaissance (SR) “Category A” grant to create a garden to serve as a gateway to
the Basha Kill wetlands area. Attended
SR grant preparation seminar, met with property owner and obtained pricing.
2013: Awarded a Category A Grant for
$1,000. We began work right away! Began purchasing trees and bird house
2013: Coordinated with Laurie Kilgore to
create BK bird house project for 1st, 3rd and 5th
24 2013: Major work day. Final alignment
of rocks, Spread dirt, planted annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, moved sign
and began WATERING.
31 2013: Final Touches. Added grasses
and geraniums, painted sign post dark green, and added birdhouses.
2013: We were awarded a “$250 Completion Grant” from SR for successfully
completing our project. The grant is to
be used to refresh mulch next spring, buy bulbs, and buy annuals for next
summer. Check has been received and
Come Clean: Gateway to the Basha Kill
Project Cost Summary
In Kind Service/ Donation
Grasses & Shrubs
(41.2 miles @ .565 per mile)
Project Grand Total
• November 15, 2012, February 4, 2013,
March 4, 2013 - Workshops conducted on tree pruning and actual on-site activity
in Wurtsboro, organized by BKAA member Janet Gula with BKAA participants Janet
Davis, Bill Herrmann, Bob Justus, Mary Mancuso, Michael Medley, Jon Reed, Sam
Romano, along with George and Susie Swann.
• February 9, 2013 - BKAA sponsored
Ravensbeard “Live Bird Show” for Wurtsboro Winterfest.
• April 26 - Jon Reed engaged in Arbor Day
program sponsored by Wurtsboro Renaissance at Emma C. Chase Elementary School
• April 30 - Michael addressed the Basha
Kill Wetlands and BKAA at a Mamakating Library sponsored event.
• July 6 - Anita Altman and Gil Kulick,
Michael, Linda Lou and Brian Bartle, Monique Lipton, Bill Lucas, Marcia Briggs
Wallace, Michael and Paula represented the BKAA at Wurtsboro Founder’s Day.
• September 28 - Paula represented the BKAA
at Mamakating Rotary Club’s Community Day in Mamakating’s Town Park.
This year’s campers
were geographically “all over the block,” with Jack Birchard and John Carnevali
at Camp DeBruce in the Catskills, Rebecca Budrock at Pack Forest in the
Southern Adirondacks, and Truth Muller at Camp Colby in the Northern
Adirondacks. Wherever they “landed,”
they enjoyed great experiences and definitely enhanced their environmental
Memorial BKAA Scholarship:
Jason Gossett, a
Green Building Maintenance and Management major at Sullivan County Community
College, received this scholarship for the Fall 2013 semester.
Kudos to Marcia
Briggs Wallace for excellently monitoring scholarship activities.
Memorial Water Testing Program:
Coordinated by Linda
Lou Bartle, this vital BKAA program tests water at several Basha Kill sites
twice monthly. Program volunteers
include Bill Bradl, Tricia Davis, Karen Harris, Robin Kukla, Eileen Lake, Cathy
Liljequist, Muller Family, Daniel and Lila Smith, Dennis Solow, and Matt
Zeitler. Youth volunteers are Nora
Brusinski, Truth Muller, and Joe Putnam. Thanks to Linda Lou for revitalizing
this key BKAA responsibility.
April 23 was a
momentous day for the Basha Kill and BKAA as the DEC Region 3 celebrated
release of DEC’s updated publication, “The New York Wildlife Viewing Guide,”
via a special observance at the South Road boat launch, where BKAA was also
honored as a long-time steward in DEC’s Adopt-A-Natural-Resource Program,
recently morphed into the Volunteer Stewardship Program.
Basha Kill Walks
and Education Programs:
These activities are
vital to the BKAA’s core mission which teaches the value of the wetlands,
Shawangunk Ridge, and surrounding areas, along with ways to safeguard them.
the BKAA’s educational agenda for 2013 and assembled the experts who
Lack of snow
cancelled our first cross-country ski outing, but Michael lead 5 participants
on his Valentine cross-country excursion.
John Haas took 19 on his “Wonderful Waterfowl” walk and another 20 on
his “Spring Bird Migration” venture.
Clearing skies resulted in a successful experience for Bob Fiore’s 6 “Star
Walk” devotees. John Kenney’s “Spring
Wildflowers” enthralled 12 attendees and his “Blooms and Butterflies” excited
an additional 6. Michael shepherded 10
hikers up Gobbler’s Knob and 8 more in the fall along the Shawangunk
Ridge. Bill Cutler introduced 16
visitors to amphibians and reptiles in a “Happy for Herps” adventure. A rescheduled “Natural History” trip with
Jack Austin garnered 20 aficionados.
Scott Graber and Michael piloted 10 kayaks on the popular moonlight
event and guided another flotilla of 17 vessels in late September. The prolific Gary Keeton, escorted 30
followers on a moonlight ramble, several more on his sunrise walk, and educated
others on two outings featuring D&H Canal history.
• February 16 - Michael introduced the
Basha Kill to participants at a Delaware Highlands Conservancy snowshoe event.
• April 20 - BKAA launched its 32nd
Annual Basha Kill Cleanup with 70 volunteers.
• April 23 - DEC Watchable Wildlife
Ceremony at South Road Boat Launch.
• May 13, 14, 15 - Michael informed 1st,
3rd, and 5th graders from Chase Elementary School about
the Basha Kill ecosystem as part of a collaborative art project with the
school. A special show on June 17 highlighted student’s offerings. Paula presided over a table at this venue.
• May 15 - Michael facilitated Leadership
Sullivan Class of 2013 “Basha Kill Day” by an onsite presentation and guided
• July 21 - Michael conducted Chapin Estate
residents on a Basha Kill jaunt.
• September 21 - Michael led several
participants on a walk as part of a joint effort with Port Jervis Free Library
on the Six “S’s” of Bird Watching.
The 11th season of Nature Watch was an all-around success
from beginning to end. At the start of
the season, DEC Estuary Biologist Tom Lake shared valuable information and
photos about bald eagle biology at the Annual Training, drawing on some of his
personal observations from more than 20 years of work with bald eagles on the
Hudson River. He inspired a group of
some 60 volunteers, both newcomers and seasoned volunteers. Those volunteers are at the heart of this
program and once again, they did a superb job of interacting with visitors at
the South Road boat launch during our season. They serve as educational
ambassadors for the Basha Kill at this key access point for the wetland’s
recreational users. They introduce visitors to the nesting bald eagles and ospreys, as well as to
other plant and animal residents of the Basha Kill. Nature Watch volunteers also record
observations on the nesting bald eagles and ospreys that are then provided to
The numbers for this year’s
educational outreach program show the program’s continuing success. We had 51 dedicated
volunteers who interacted with
1,672 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.
The season came to an official end with another very
successful Nature Watch fundraiser for the BKAA held at the Bashakill Vineyards
located right across from the boat launch. Much of the success of the fundraiser once
again has to do with the generous cooperation of Paul Deninno, owner of the
Vineyards, who collaborates with us throughout the Nature Watch season. In
addition, this year Paula Medley used this venue to promote the official first
release of the new edition of John Haas’ birding guide to Sullivan County. With the proceeds from John’s sales (all of
which go to the BKAA) combined with the proceeds from the entry fee to the event,
we brought in a record-breaking
The amazing Bill
Streeter with live raptors from the Delaware Valley Raptor Center dazzled everyone with the birds and with all
of the information that he presents. Finally
Nature Watch member Eileen Lake
provided a table of culinary
delights for our attendees.
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. Ellie Knieriemen shares
her photos of the nesting raptors taken weekly from her kayak with all of us in
Nature Watch. Thanks also to the BKAA for its ongoing support of the program
and to the DEC for oversight of our program.
It is a testimony to our volunteers and to their work that an anonymous
donor has stepped forward with a donation to cover all of Nature Watch’s
expenses for next year (approximately $500 to $750)! Thank you so much for this vote of
confidence. We’ll see you all next year.
• March 9 - Paula supervised an
informational table at Sullivan Renaissance’s Winter Expo.
• March 14 - Marcia Briggs Wallace attended
• April 18 - Paula represented BKAA at
“Earth Day” festivities a SUNY Orange.
• April 25 - Michael and Paula attended
Sullivan Renaissances “Spring Forum.”
• May 12 - Paula represented BKAA at the 3rd
Annual Tulip Festival at Honor’s Haven in Ellenville.
• August 10 - Anita Altman and Gil Kulick,
Monique Lipton, Bill Lucas, Christine Saward, Marcia Briggs Wallace, Andy Weil,
and Michael & Paula represented the BKAA at the Ellenville-Wawarsing
• August 12 - Cathy Dawkins represented the
BKAA’s “Come Clean” program at the Sullivan Renaissance Awards function.
• August 22-25 - Linda Lou Bartle organized
the BKAA’s venue at Otisville’s Country Fair, ably assisted by Maryallison
Farley, Eileen Lake, and Paula.
• September 16 - Paula represented the BKAA
at Orange Regional Medical Center’s Health and Wellness Fair.
• September 22 - Michael and Paula
represented the BKAA at the Bethel Woods’ “Earth Day in Autumn.”
• October 11 - Linda Lou and Jon attended
Hudson River Watershed’s Alliance 7th Annual Conference at Mohonk
• February 11 - Christine Saward and Paula
attended a workshop on zoning and planning as the Sullivan County Government
“A Birding Guide
to Sullivan County New York Including the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area:”
John Haas fully
revised his guide’s third edition. Funding was provided via a generous grant to
the BKAA from Orange and Rockland’s Community Investment Committee. All
proceeds from the book sales will benefit the BKAA. Thanks to Orange and Rockland and
John!!! Following book signing events,
guides will be available at Canal Towne Emporium and Bashakill Vineyards in
Wurtsboro, Morgan Outdoors in Livingston Manor, and online.
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, 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.
Secretary, Recording Secretary and Treasurer: These key
board functions were
competently executed by Marcia Briggs Wallace, Christine Saward, and Monique
Lipton. Thanks for an amazing commitment of time and energy.
• The BKAA
recognizes Susan O’Neill’s ongoing dedication as our public relations guru,
and distributing all
• Our website, www.thebashakill.org,
produced by Arrow Web Designs, and the Alerts update
supply general news, and rapidly galvanize members for lobbying purposes.
Maryallison Farley for being BKAA’s contact with Arrow Web and kudos to Hattie
excellently administering Action/Information Alerts.
• A 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 or not).
• The BKAA is part
of the Social Network, having a Facebook page ably administered by Linda
• Thank you to
Liberty Press and Jon Heaphy for orchestrating The Guardian’s online operation
and for patiently managing my Type A personality, as do many others!
• Buff McAllister is
remarkable! 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 SIZE and prominence as the BKAA’s
primary connection to all members. Mere words cannot begin to describe Buff’s
value to the BKAA.
The BKAA contacted
engineer Andy Willingham over YM, 7 Peaks,/Commerce Park, and China City. Hydrogeologist Katherine Beinkafner
contributed information on 7 Peaks.China City.
Ecologist Spider Barbour worked on 7 Peaks.