October 31, 2004

Watersheds touch many sides of life

You can take steps to keep the one you live in healthy

By Rick Oestrike
For the Poughkeepsie Journal

No matter where you live, you are in a watershed. A watershed is a region of land that drains downward to a particular body of water.

It has interconnected streams, lakes, wetlands and underground waters moving generally downhill to the body of water the watershed is named for.

The Hudson River watershed encompasses a large region where rainwater and snowmelt moves downward to the Hudson River. The Fishkill Creek watershed is a smaller region within the larger Hudson River watershed.

We all live in watersheds, but do they actually affect our lives? Yes, they do.

Consider the following:

  • A watershed in good condition will produce millions of gallons of pure drinking water each day free of charge. A damaged watershed needs multimillion-dollar treatment plants, pumping stations and pipelines to manufacture and distribute drinking water.
  • The Hudson Valley is a desirable place to live, at least in part, because of the many beautiful streams, lakes and ponds that grace our region.
  • Healthy lakes, streams and ponds increase property value of nearby homes, while degraded water bodies reduce property values.
  • Healthy wetlands and water bodies provide habitats needed for a wide variety of plants and animals.
  • These same bodies of water enhance tourism to our region.

A Marist College study in 1997 found visitors to the Wappinger Creek watershed add in excess of $1.2 million each year to the local economy by fishing, boating and hiking. Similar contributions to the local economy occur from the other watersheds in our area.

So it's a good idea to protect watersheds, but I'm only one person, what can I do?

Below are several ways you can help protect your watershed. Visit our Web site at FishkillCreekWatershed.org for more ideas.

Copyright 2005, Poughkeepsie Journal. Reprinted with Permission.
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