FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 15-31
May 7, 2015
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Department of Environmental Protection Celebrates American Wetlands Month by Hosting Educational Walk in the Watershed
Walk to include a tour of 46-acre wetland in Putnam County with DEP wetlands scientist
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced that it will host a wetlands educational walk in Putnam County on May 23 to celebrate American Wetlands Month. The walk will take place at a 46-acre wetland near West Branch Reservoir in the Town of Carmel at 1:30 p.m. The wetland includes red maple swamps, ponds, and more than a dozen specialized plant species. It also includes a diverse array of animals such as ducks, songbirds, turtles and frogs.
The roughly 2-mile walk through the city-owned wetland will include wet and dry conditions. Participants are encouraged to bring waterproof boots. Limited parking is available at the end of Lockwood Lane. Participants are asked to register beforehand by contacting Frank Parisio at email@example.com. The walk will be led by Parisio, a DEP wetlands scientist, who will explain the importance of the wetland to the surrounding area, and provide hands-on opportunities to examine some of the animals and plants that live in the wetland.
DEP’s walk will commemorate the 24th Annual American Wetlands Month, which was created in 1991 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its nonprofit and private partners to educate people about wetlands and celebrate their vital importance to the nation’s ecological, economic and social health. Wetlands are transitional lands between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, characterized by plant communities that are well adapted to low-oxygen soil conditions brought on by prolonged saturation or flooding. Wetlands come in many varieties, including swamps, wet meadows, marshes, bogs and fens.
These unique ecosystems provide a wide variety of beneficial functions. Often referred to as “nature’s sponge,” wetlands retain surface waters and attenuate flooding, help maintain stream flow, remove nutrients and pollutants to improve water quality, play important roles in carbon cycling, and provide habitat to myriad plant and animal species. Many amphibian, reptile, fish, bird, mammal and insect species depend on wetlands for all or part of their life cycles. Nearly half of the nation’s threatened and endangered species rely on wetlands to survive.
In addition to local, state and federal wetland laws, DEP has many programs in place to protect and enhance these valuable natural resources in the watershed. The city’s watershed regulations prohibit certain activities, such as the construction of impervious surfaces, within or near state-mapped wetlands. DEP also partners with the Watershed Agricultural Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure that best management practices are employed to protect wetlands during agricultural and forestry work on watershed lands.
DEP has also protected nearly 2,800 acres of wetlands in the watershed that surround New York City’s reservoirs. This includes nearly 18 percent of state and federally mapped wetlands in the Catskill and Delaware watersheds that provide unfiltered drinking water to 8.4 million people in New York City and another 1 million people in upstate counties. DEP actively monitors over 120 acres of wetlands on water supply lands to better understand their characteristics, conditions, and functions.
DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than one billion gallons of high quality water each day to more than 9 million New Yorkers. This includes more than 70 upstate communities and institutions in Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties who consume an average of 110 million total gallons of drinking water daily from New York City’s water supply system. This water comes from the Catskill, Delaware, and Croton watersheds that extend more than 125 miles from the City, and the system comprises 19 reservoirs, three controlled lakes, and numerous tunnels and aqueducts. DEP has nearly 6,000 employees, including almost 1,000 scientists, engineers, surveyors, watershed maintainers and other professionals in the upstate watershed. In addition to its $70 million payroll and $157 million in annual taxes paid in upstate counties, DEP has invested more than $1.7 billion in watershed protection programs—including partnership organizations such as the Catskill Watershed Corporation and the Watershed Agricultural Council—that support sustainable farming practices, environmentally sensitive economic development, and local economic opportunity. In addition, DEP has a robust capital program with nearly $14 billion in investments planned over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, visit nyc.gov/dep, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.