Young People And Their Watershed

Students from the High School for Environmental Studies plant trees to protect New York City's watershed

Teenagers Samantha Gotthardt of Downsville, New York and Lily Garcia of the Bronx met for the first time last spring, when they and 50 other students dug holes and planted 250 tree seedlings along the Little Delaware River, one of dozens of streams that feed six huge reservoirs in the Catskills. The students have always been connected by a network of rivers, reservoirs, and underground tunnels carrying water from rural upstate New York to 9 million thirsty consumers in New York City and its suburbs, but the project created personal links between young urban water consumers and the upstate stewards of that water.

The trees planted by these students and others have taken root to prevent erosion and preserve water quality. This is one of the many watershed stewardship projects encouraged and partially funded by the nonprofit Catskill Watershed Corporation. In 50 schools, students raise trout from eggs to fingerlings, learning to link water quality with ecological health. Each spring, the students release thousands of young trout into Catskill streams in often emotional farewell sessions that give each trout “parent” a special reason to protect the water that sustains their “babies.”

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