A weekly blog for all things conservation
Get to Know Your Watershed
By: Joe Quatrini, Technical Team Leader, BCCD
What is a watershed? For some reading this article, a definition or explanation may be easy to come by either due to where you live, your profession, or what your hobbies may be. For others, maybe it’s a word you hear on the nightly news or on social media around discussions led by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and regulations associated with the Chesapeake Bay. Or maybe this is the first time you’ve heard it.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll define a watershed simply as “all the land that drains to a specific location”. I’ve always enjoyed asking this question to elementary students during educational events and listening to their answers. Inevitably the answer “it’s a shed where you store your water” always gets yelled out. As silly as that seems every time you hear it, it’s kind of right. Obviously, there’s no shed with a door we open and put pails of water in, but all the water that falls on the land in a particular area is stored for a particular period of time and ultimately drains to a common point (generally speaking). Here in Bradford County, the largest watershed is the previously mentioned Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Any precipitation that falls on the ground in Bradford County has the potential to reach the Chesapeake Bay.
We often hear “why should I care about the Chesapeake Bay?”. Well, the landscape choices we make here in Bradford County have the potential to impact people and communities miles from home, that’s why. Just as we utilize the land locally through agriculture, industry, and recreation, so too do others utilize the bay for their livelihood, use its resources, and recreate in and around it. There’s an old saying “We all live downstream”, and just as we want our resources coming from New York to be protected and pristine, so too do those living south of Pennsylvania. It is estimated that as much as 50% of fine sediment entering streams in Bradford County could reach the Chesapeake Bay, and that’s approximately 250 miles away.
But enough about the Chesapeake Bay. Here at the Conservation District, we try to affect change at a regional level by focusing our water quality improvement efforts locally. Much of this work is done in coordination with our Watershed Associations. These watershed associations are made up of individuals concerned about protecting and/or improving water quality in an area in their part of the county. Members may be private landowners, municipal officials, outdoor enthusiasts, business owners, etc. the list goes on. Whatever the reason people choose to get involved, those most successful are the ones that have a concern for the health of the entire watershed and not just one issue in a certain location. Over the past 20 years or so, Bradford County has seen numerous watershed associations become established thanks to the dedication and hard work of a handful of local community members.
So, what are the watersheds located in Bradford County? Really, any stream, creek, brook, run or whatever you call it (hmm, sounds like a future article topic?), is its own watershed. There are, however, some major watersheds that we identify in Bradford County and they are: Bentley Creek, Laning Creek, Satterlee Creek, Schrader Creek, Seeley Creek, Sugar Creek, Sugar Run, Towanda Creek, Wappasening Creek, Wyalusing Creek, and Wysox Creek. Of those major watersheds in the county, only a few still have active associations with 501 c (3) non-profit status. Some of the activities these associations have accomplished in the past, and continue to accomplish, are: identifying critical environmental needs within a watershed (i.e. erosion, pollution, flooding); securing grant funding for streambank stabilization, tree planting, road repairs, and agricultural projects; and hosting educational events within the community.
As you enjoy time at home, at work, or traveling around the county, try to identify some of these watersheds mentioned above. Also try to take note of the landscape and where you might transition from one watershed to the next. If you’d like help identifying the watershed you live in or you’d like to participate in an active watershed association, give us a call.
The Bradford County Conservation District is committed to helping people manage resources wisely. You can visit the Bradford County Conservation District at 200 Lake Rd in Wysox across from the Wysox Fire Hall. Contact us at (570) 485-3144 or visit our web page at www.bccdpa.com.
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Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District