Outdoors: Shandaken Tunnel cools water for Esopus Creek

The latest on the outdoors from The Recorder's Jerrod Vila
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Categories: Sports

As a preface to the following, the Shandaken Tunnel connects the Gilboa Reservoir to the Esopus Creek, in essence, creating an almost mock tailwater like system.
The tunnel is 11.5 feet high and 10.2 feet wide and carries water 18 miles underneath many a mountain, where it subsequently cools prior to being released into the Esopus at “The Portal” located in the town of Allaben.

Upstream of this point to its headwaters around Big Indian, the Esopus is a typical freestone stream, succumb to warmer temperatures during the heart of the summer once all the snowpack is melted off and the many small tributaries that comprise it also become warm. 

However, below this point, albeit not the typical bottom release scenario directly below a large dam and reservoir, the Esopus basically becomes a tailwater stream with a healthy influx of cold water entering the stream. This convergence of cold water is critical to maintaining the Esopus as a year round sustainable trout fishery.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has been working on a project to replace the gates that control the movement of water from Schoharie Reservoir into the Shandaken Tunnel. That work is being performed by specially trained divers deep within a shaft alongside the reservoir.

To keep the divers safe, the DEP installed a massive plug within the shaft to prevent water from moving into the tunnel. The plug was outfitted with a bypass pipe (think of it like a cup lid with a straw) to safely move a limited amount of water around the divers. The bypass pipe has a maximum capacity of about 100 million gallons per day.

Late last week, the DEP temporarily halted work on the project because of the dry, incredibly hot weather. This decision was made in consultation with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

Last Thursday night, the Shandaken Tunnel was shut down to zero flow, allowing safe removal of the divers and their equipment. Flow was reduced starting at 3 p.m. and reached zero at about 8 p.m. The flow was then reactivated within the tunnel to a much higher flow than the smaller bypass pipe would allow. The additional water will provide a higher flow rate and maintain a cooler temperature in the Esopus Creek.

The persistently hot and dry weather had caused the flow in the creek to drop below levels that are best for its ecological health. DEP expected to reach the higher flow of 140 million gallons per day by about 5 a.m. Friday. 

Upon review of the USGS Data, indeed the river had jumped approximately 100 cubic feet per second and the low temperature value had dropped back into the safe zone of around 60 degrees. Obviously, the remnants of the tropical storm that made it’s presence known Tuesday added an ungodly amount of flow into the creek but that will drop rather quickly and by now should be stable conditions once again.

UPDATE TO LICENSE SALES 

An announcement came late last Friday afternoon, only hours prior to the normal Aug. 1 date in which licenses normally go on sale for the current year stating that the new and recently implemented DECALS system “still had some bugs” to be worked out. The new system was not updating current information and DEC techs needed extra time to work on the system prior to it going live.

Monday is the new tentative date for license purchase. Hopefully everything goes smoothly.

2020 TRAIL CAM REVIEWS 
It is getting to be that time of year once again, where the bucks are sporting just about the racks they will have for the season. Most scientific data shows that bucks will reach their maximum antler growth sometime within the second full week of August.

As the daylight begins to wane and the testosterone begins to increase, the antler hardening process gets underway. As of right now, between my good fellow hunting buddies and I, we have out approximately 20 trail cameras, about half of which are traditional style and the other half are cellular.

As the traditionalists succumb to old age and mechanical failure, we have gradually been replacing them with cellular cameras. If you have not yet jumped on the cell camera bandwagon yet, I highly recommend doing so. The real-time photos convey so much more information than scouring through an SD card of a plethora of photos. It is highly addicting to see a photo of a great buck, or even just game in general, come through day after day directly to your fingertips.

The following are the top five cameras of 2020, both standard and cellular versions as reviewed by Trailcampro.com

REGULAR TRAIL CAMS

Browning takes the top spot with the Strike Force series, followed by Bushnell Core DS Series. Another notch for Browning in the third slot with its Dark Ops series. In fourth place is Spypoint Force Dark, and rounding out the top five is Stealth Cam DS4K. Now there are multiple camera models and configurations per each main model — Trailcampro.com ranks them as such — but I wanted to give a wider array of top models.

CELLULAR TRAIL CAMS

The No. 1 spot goes to Ridgetec Lookout 4G LTE. Next up is the Spypoint Link-S, followed by the Spypoint Link Dark, Browning Defender and the Spartan White Flash and Ghost.

I have personally been running Spypoint Link Micros for the last two seasons, simply because they were the cheapest option. I usually try and discourage others from going with the cheapest because it mostly never works out well. The motto “good things are not cheap, and cheap things are not good” almost always holds true.

In this case, however, I have been happy with these units. Of course, there are much better cellular cameras on the market, but for less than half the price of most we gave a couple a shot to start with and were pleased with the performance and are currently running eight Link Micros and have only had one issue in the last two years, which was quickly remedied through their customer service department.

They often go on sale for around $100 dollars, so that is a great time to pick up one or two if you would like to dabble into the realm of cellular trail cameras.

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