June 7, 2005

Management plan unveiled for the Fishkill Creek Watershed

Two years of work by the Fishkill Creek Watershed Committee has produced a set of recommendations that the committee says will open a new chapter of intermunicipal cooperation. The 197-page plan was unveiled at the Rivers and Estuaries Center in Beacon.

Committee Chairman Rick Oestrike, said that the critical component is for residents, businesses and municipalities “to work together”.

“That means municipalities, residents, businesses, all the different organizations that are in the area,” he said. “We all have to work together if we’re going to protect the watershed. There are lots of specifics that can be done.”

One example, according to Oestrike, is replanting the depleted vegetation along the stream bank. A seedling program is already under way, as of earlier this year.

Another concern is old dams. Oestrike and Fran Dunwell, director of the DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program, say that is a critical issue that adversely affecting the environmental quality of the watershed, and the movement of migratory fish that annually come up the Hudson and its tributaries from the Atlantic.

The plan calls for an evaluation of existing dams, and renoval, where practical.

Both also agreed that development is having an impact, and that needs to be addressed.

Dunwell says their approach relies more on persuasion. “We’re particularly interested in promoting what we call ‘low impact development’, development that uses techniques that allow groundwater to filter back in, when it rains. Instead of going into a pipe into the stream, that it filters into the groundwater and into the stream slowly that way.”

The Estuary program is providing grants to counties to develop management plans.

A well-protected river and estuary system makes sense, said Oestrike. "Economic benefit results” he said, when hikers, fishermen and "leaf peepers" drawn to the area. Visitors spend locally, which provides a "substantial economic benefit to the community."

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