Last week, River U visited Little Stony Point,in Hudson Highlands State Park, for a day of seining. After acclimatizing to the water (and appreciating the scenic view), we quickly unrolled our seining nets and dragged them through the river in the hopes of catching fish and other aquatic creatures. We also set minnow traps to trap specimens.
Although early trawls had a tendency to catch more logs than fish, and the minnows seemed initially skeptical of our bagel bait, we persevered. Both methods eventually proved hugely successful, and our haul included an incredibly diverse selection of species, including: spot tail shiner, white perch, bay anchovy, blue crab, pumpkin seed sunfish, American eel, tessellated darter, and hog choker.
During lunch, we learned a great deal about the ecological and political significance to the American environmental movement of scenic Storm King mountain. Storm King (originally known as “Butter Hill”) is an emblematic mountain, of the variety typically painted by the Hudson River School of the nineteenth century.
In the 1960s, power company ConEd released its plans to build a reservoir on the mountain that could be used to produce additional power during peak hours. They experienced massive backlash from the local community, most notably from Scenic Hudson, who took them to court. In a landmark case, Scenic Hudson won on the grounds of the aesthetic value of the mountain that would be lost to the power plant siting, a legal precedent that would become a pillar of the environmental movement: the ability to represent the best interests of the environment. (For more information, click here)
Our lesson on the Storm King case was followed by a lengthy debate regarding the selection of a RiverU mascot. After a harrowing debate, where the campaigning policies of some individuals were called into question, we are nonetheless pleased to announce that an eventual consensus was reached in the form of a bluegill sunfish (for a more in-depth analysis of our elective process, please see the”RiverU Mascot Challenge“blog post).
Having earned both a new-found appreciation for the majestic mountain across the river and the enlightening opportunity to study Hudson River fishes up close, we released our specimens back into the river, and headed back to Beacon.