Soil & Water Conservation District

The Rockland County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) was established in 1965 and is responsible for developing Soil and Water Conservation District programs to protect and conserve soil, water, prime and unique farmland, wildlife, energy and other renewable resources to meet the needs of the local land user on non-federal lands. The Board of Directors represent the County's five towns. They are appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Legislature. District programs encourage municipalities and residents to conserve water and to protect our existing water resources. The District offers FREE environmental education programs to students of all ages throughout the year, monitors our water quality for fish health, assesses the health of our culverts and bridges, and collaborates with regional and local organizations annually on a variety of projects such as the NYS DEC endorsed 4 Hour Training in Erosion & Sediment Control as well as the NYS DEC sponsored American eel project.

Meetings are held the 3rd Thursday of the month (sometimes 4th Thursday...call our office).
Meetings start at 9:30am at the Dr. Robert L. Yeager Health Center, 50 Sanatorium Rd, Bldg K, Pomona, NY. All meetings are open to the public.

Members:

Executive Director - Allan Beers
District Manager - Nicole Laible
Conservation District Technician- Brianna Rosamilia
Clarkstown Hwy Dept. - Frank DiZenzo
Haverstraw Hwy Dept. - George Wargo Jr.
Orangetown Hwy Dept. - James Dean, Chair
Stony Point Hwy Dept. - Larry Brissing
Ramapo Hwy Dept.- Fred Brinn
Others - Delegated by Local Law


Learn more about RC SWCD projects by listening to District Manager, Nicole Laible on the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland County monthly Stormwater Conference Radio Show

Hosted on WRCR here:
https://s3.amazonaws.com/assets.cce.cornell.edu/attachments/32738/stormwater_15march2018.mp3?1535387549

District Programs

Annually, Rockland County Soil & Water Conservation District (RC SWCD) coordinates several community science initiatives, road-stream crossing assessments, professional stream biomonitoring, a Green Infrastructure Site Demonstration Network, FREE environmental education programs for K-College students at County Parks and other natural resources initiatives.

Follow the hotlinks to our Volunteer Opportunities and Protecting our Streams and Waterways pages to learn more about community science programs and the professional stream biomonitoring program.

Road-Stream Crossing Assessments & Town Inventory Documents:

Rockland County Soil & Water Conservation District assesses culverts and bridges for flood risk and aquatic passability (the ability for migratory fish to swim into and out of structure).

Culvert_assessments_Photo_by_S._Burke.jpg

Conservation District Technician and Conservation Corps staff assess a series of culverts.

Since 2014, over 400 culverts and bridges have been assessed in the Cedar Pond Brook, Minisceongo Creek and Sparkill Creek subwatersheds (spanning the Towns of Haverstraw, Stony Point, Clarkstown, Orangetown and Ramapo). In 2016, the Soil & Water Conservation District completed a pilot study for the Town of Stony Point. 135 culverts and bridges were assessed and made into an inventory document. The goal is to create a Town Level Management Planto help reduce flood risk and increase conservation efforts across our waterways and neighboring communities.

All data is available to the public via the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative (NAACC) website. 13 States participate in the research effort spanning Maine through West Virginia.

Several Counties across New York State are also assessing their local culverts and bridges, please visit the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Hudson River Estuary Program for more information.

 

Town Inventory Documents including a full list of culverts and bridges, as well as a ranking of the top 10 impaired crossings are available upon request.



Green Infrastructure Site Demonstration Network:
(the following content was provided by the EMC & SWCD staff)

Annually, RC SWCD allocates funds to conceptual design plans and construction of rain gardens, bioswales and other Green Infrastructure features across the County. These features aid with groundwater recharge, flooding control and beautification of public spaces. Interpretive signage is also placed at each site to educate visitors of the benefits of Green Infrastructure. Below is a list of the demonstration sites open to the public.

36x24RainGardens-P_Bowline_generic.jpg



Stream Bank Stabilization Project Along the Sparkill Creek:

Riparian Buffer along Route 340 - In 2015, the SCWA partnered with the Rockland County SWCD and Dominican College to plant 17 trees and 99 shrubs along Route 340 in Sparkill, New York. SWCD funded the design plans for the project which included red maple, sycamore, and white pine trees, as well as red-osier dogwood, northern bayberry, and arrowwood shrubs



Vegetated Dry Swale at Valley Cottage Library:

Swales are natural drainage paths or vegetated channels used to transport water instead of underground storm sewers or concrete open channels. Swales increase the time of concentration to remove silt and pollution out of surface runoff water, reduce discharge, and provide filtration.
The vegetated swales created in 2011 throughout the parking lot, along with a rain garden. RC SWCD provided funds to support this project.



Rain Gardens at Orangeburg Library, Bowline Park, Kennedy Dells County Park and Piermont Library:

Rain gardens filter pollutants naturally as the rainwater percolates down through the soil and fibrous roots of the native plants - improving the water quality as it recharges the groundwater supply. Native plants, acclimated to local soils and weather conditions, reduce water consumption and the need for fertilizers, and provide habitat for wildlife. 
Bowline Point Park completed their rain garden in 2017 by the Town of Haverstraw and RC SWCD. Funding for the garden design and planting materials was provided by the SWCD, who also designed and provided the interpretive sign. Kennedy Dells County Park was completed in 2007 by a member of Boy Scout Troop 97 for his Eagle Scout service project. The interpretive sign was provided by the SWCD who also designed it. 
Orangeburg Library was completed in 2016 by the Town of Orangetown and RC SWCD. Funding for the garden design and planting materials was provided by the SWCD, who also designed and provided an interpretive sign. Piermont Library was completed in 2010 by the Rockland Audubon Society, who also designed and provided the interpretive sign.  RC SWCD provided funds for the interpretive signage.
Valley Cottage Library was completed in 2011 along with bioswales. The rain garden is located near the southwest corner of the library's property along with interpretive signs. RC SWCD provided funds for this project.



FREE Environmental Education Field Trips:

Environmental education is a growing field as the "opt outside" movement continues to prosper and individuals find value in spending time outdoors. The RC SWCD began their environmental education program in 2016 and educate ~800 youths and adults annually.

Watershed_Teaching_by_Diana_Cutt_EDITED.jpg

Image of RC SWCD staff educating students from the Nyack Center SOAR program; photo credit Diana Cutt.

Our environmental education program brochure highlights the lessons we provide, teaching settings and more. More detailed information on our FREE environmental education programs is listed below. Do not forget to scroll down to see information on scheduling a class trip and fun images of our programs in action!


What We Offer:
The Rockland County Soil and Water Conservation District provides environmental education programs to school groups, youths and adults. We offer NYS DEC Project WET and self-made lessons, and we can tailor lessons and programs for each school or class. Our teaching settings include in-class programs, after school projects at community centers, and field trips at local county parks. We work with all audiences from K-College and beyond at the public and private school level as well as with homeschooled students. All programs are FREE.


Topics:
RC SWCD staff are willing to work with local teachers and organizations to develop new lessons and programs. Currently, our lessons cover the following topics:

• Water quality (biology, chemistry and the physical environment)
• Anthropogenic impacts to our watershed and management (Enviroscape model)
• American Eel biology and lifecycle
• Stormwater issues and management
• How our infrastructure impacts flood risk and fish passage


*The majority of our lessons end with ways that individuals can get involved in local science initiatives; we end on a positive and pro-active note.


Program Delivery:
We use powerpoint presentations and hands on demonstrations and activities to teach students scientific concepts based around the topics listed above. Our hands-on activities promote collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving. We offer pre-and post classroom visits for field trips which helps students to understand what to expect on the trip and retain the most information from their experience. In the past, we have worked with North Rockland High School, Clarkstown North High School, Nyack Elementary School, Dominican College, St. Thomas Aquinas College, and Nyack College.
During programs at County Parks, District Staff offer hands on programming. We work with teachers to develop an entire day or half day field trip for your students. Examples include a macro-invertebrate program where students get to be a scientist for the day, wear waders, handle bugs, and identify their catch. This program engages students with their local waterways to help them learn about the insects living in their streams and promotes collaboration between students. Lastly, all of our programs are focused on environmental stewardship; thus when students complete the activity/ field trip, we hope that each will have established connection with the natural environment which fosters into respect for land, water and wildlife as they become adults.


Collaborations:
• A Day in the Life of the Hudson River Estuary
• Great Hudson River Fish Count
• American Eel projects with NYS DEC HREP
• Aquatic connectivity (NAACC) with NYS DEC, Cornell Water Resources Institute and NAACC
• Waterway cleanups with Keep Rockland Beautiful
• Water Quality Coordinating Committee quarterly guest speaker sessions

We collaborate with other organizations offering environmental education programs. We are involved in the development of an Environmental Education Consortium of Rockland County to provide an easy way for informal and formal educators to find environmental education programs in Rockland. If you offer environmental programs and would like to learn more about our collaborations, please contact Nicole Laible at laiblen@co.rockland.ny.us.

Other organizations we've collaborated with include Keep Rockland Beautiful, Science & Outdoor Alliance of Rockland (SOAR), Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Rockland Conservation & Service Corps, NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program, Hudson Valley Regional Council, Lower Hudson Coalition of Conservation Districts, Sparkill Creek Watershed Alliance, Rockland County Task Force on Water Resources Management, Hudson River Watershed Alliance and many more.


Important information for teachers:
We work with teachers one on one to determine the best programs for their needs. In doing so, we adapt programs that can be used outside during a field trip and inside the classroom. In many cases, we will conduct a pre-and post visit in the classroom for an outside field program. This ensures students learn the most from the programs and retain the information.

Contact Us: If you are interested in setting up a program or want to receive more information, please contact the RC SWCD District Manager, Nicole Laible at laiblen@co.rockland.ny.us.



Other Initiatives:  Click on the hotlinks below for more details on each project.

Stevens Institute of Technology Study
Columbia University Study

Rockland Community College Rain Garden: RC SWCD funded the conceptual level designs and construction plans for a rain garden at Rockland Community College campus.  Samples of the final design completed by Carriage House Gardens landscape architects can be viewed below. Click on images to see actual size document.

RCC_Rain_Garden_final_design.jpg

RCC_Rain_Garden_final_design_2.jpg


SWCD Agendas and Minutes:

Agenda's and meeting Minute's can be viewed below.  Previous years are available upon request.  Meetings are open to the public and held the 3rd Thursday of the month.  See 2018 Meeting Dates for more details.

AgendasMinutes                                     
SWCD Agenda 11-15-18  
SWCD Agenda 10-18-18  SWCD DRAFT Minutes 10-18-18
SWCD Agenda 09-13-18  SWCD Minutes 09-13-18
SWCD Agenda Emergency Meeting 08-13-18  SWCD 08-13-18
SWCD Agenda 06-21-18  SWCD Minutes 06-21-18
SWCD Agenda 05-17-18  SWCD Minutes 05-17-18
SWCD Agenda 04-19-18 SWCD Minutes 04-19-18
SWCD Agenda 03-12-18 SWCD Minutes 03-12-18
SWCD Agenda 02-08-18 SWCD Minutes 02-08-18
SWCD Agenda 01-18-18 SWCD Minutes 01-18-18
SWCD 2018 Meeting Dates