The NYC DEP recommends that educators, paddling and ecological
organizations, and community groups focus programs on learning about how
forests clean and protect our water when applying for this grant. Keep in
mind that you can also use this grant to visit other reservoirs, though
Neversink is the only one with a free public fleet. We’re dipping a paddle
in the water in 2013 and really splashing down in 2014. One LIC has written
to that they’ve already applied, and another is interested, but this is for
all of NYC (and our country cousins)! 🙂
A few media reps and DEP contracted photographers stopped by the HarborLAB booth. Photo by Manny Steier.
Our city’s drinking water reservoirs are located in regions chockablock with outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, fishing, biking, and of course paddling. The NYC Department of Environmental Protection, steward of this resource, organized called The Watershed Experience on Saturday in Brooklyn Bridge Park to promote tourism to these attraction just two hours north of NYC. HarborLAB was invited to share the good word about our coming Watershed Wonder Tours.
HarborLAB volunteers Manny Steier and Erik Baard had a great time meeting representatives from the Ashokan Center, DEP natural resources, Frost Valley YMCA, and other potential partners. Getting there and back was half the fun — Manny biked from central Queens and Erik paddled from LIC. On the way down, Erik skirted the margins of the Liberty Challenge race as outriggers rounded a buoy by the Brooklyn Bridge — underestimating the current they were bucking, one crew rubbed shoulders with the buoy!
Wes Miller, Pat Erickson, and Dorothy Morehead were critical in getting the show on the road. One terrific bonus for Manny and Erik was meeting the friendly and capable Brooklyn Bridge Boathouse crew, especially Darren (who came to the rescue with sunblock) and Charlie.
Kids got a kick out of rolling in the grass in our boat, which is the same model as is destined for the Neversink Reservoir. We also served as referral booth for the Brooklyn Bridge Boathouse! Photo by Manny Steier.
A second treat, for Erik was feasting on Amelanchier growing in the park! (Manny doesn’t eat food he’s not authoritatively identified.) Amelanchier look like blueberries but are more closely related to cherries and peaches. The fruit is variable across the species, but the ones in Brooklyn Bridge Park (on the north side of the kayaking embayment, at the entrance to the path leading up stairs) were as sweet as fruit punch. All varieties have small seeds at the center that taste like almonds. In our region — especially the Hudson Valley — the most famous variety is known as shadbush (Amelanchier arborea), because the flowers bloom as shad (a migratory fish that’s an historically important food and still a delicacy) swim back into the estuary on their way to northern spawning grounds. The large bush is also more morbidly known in New England as serviceberry, because its bloom occurs when the ground is thawed enough for burial of the winter’s dead. If you’re from outside of the East Coast, you may have heard of their close cousins, known as Juneberry or Saskatoon on the prairies. Erik plants these small trees through his Gotham Orchards project, and they grow in many soils. Some argue that they are great for waterfronts because of their salt tolerances, but report that they aren’t particularly salt tolerant. We’ll follow the confidence of NYRP that the species is able to survive occasional saline flooding.
Amelanchier in Brooklyn Bridge Park! Photo by Erik Baard.
Neversink Reservoir. Photo by Catskill Watershed Corporation.
HarborLAB will launch a second fleet of ten tandem kayaks and five canoes on the Neversink Reservoir at the start of the new school year! Students on our free Watershed Wonder Tours will enjoy unforgettably beautiful experiential and curricular learning about the water that flows out of their faucets. While at the reservoir they’ll also have opportunities to participate in educational hikes through the forests that maintain the purity of our drinking water, and to visit local farms and historic sites.
Few New York City residents realize that their drinking water is delivered largely by gravity from gorgeous, blue mountain lakes via a network of hundreds of miles of tunnels. Watershed Wonder Tours will happily awaken them to this reality and, we hope, a commitment to stewardship. We also look forward to building urban and rural bonds through partnerships with watershed educators that bring kids from both regions onto the water together.
We’re immensely grateful to the Catskill Watershed Corporation for making Watershed Wonder Tours possible through its recently announced education grant. The CWC stated in a press release that its goal is to “heighten awareness and understanding of the New York City water system and its vast Watershed West of the Hudson River.”
The CWC highlighted HarborLAB’s pioneering public program. “Another grant will support an exciting new venture by the NYC-based HarborLAB to maintain a fleet of kayaks and canoes on the Neversink Reservoir for use by city students and their Watershed peers in conjunction with lessons about water quality and environmental protection.”
Educators and community organizations wishing to schedule Neversink Reservoir Watershed Wonder Tours with us can reduce transportation costs through a Watershed Agricultural Council Bus Tour Grant. Applications are due July 15.
We’re also deeply grateful to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection for its support of our CWC grant application, its creative engagement with such a novel program, and especially for its environmental education expertise. In 2012 the NYC DEP first allowed kayaking on some of its reservoirs. ReservoirLAB is the first public fleet to be stationed at a reservoir. The concept of introducing the free public paddling model (shaped in NYC primarily by the Downtown Boathouse) to the reservoir system was born in 2011, when HarborLAB Founder Erik Baard toured Catskill Mountain villages as the state’s “Greenest New Yorker.”
Neversink from the air. Photo by Kwaree.com.
The CWC is a non-profit, local development corporation responsible for several environmental protection, economic development and education programs in the New York City Watershed West of the Hudson River. For more information, go to www.cwconline.org, or call toll-free 877-928-7433.
Teachers, parents and school administrators will find information on Watershed and environmental education resources and programs at www.watersheducators.org.