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Forestry on Private Lands

The Watershed Forestry Program is a partnership between New York City and the watershed forestry community that promotes sound management and stewardship of privately owned forest lands. The Watershed Forestry Program has been funded by the City since 1997 with additional matching grants provided by the U.S. Forest Service and other sources. The Program is administered locally by the not-for-profit Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC) through a contract with DEP.

The Watershed Forestry Program strives to maintain well-managed forests as a beneficial land use for water quality protection. Forests cover more than three-quarters of the watershed land area, and a similar majority of this forest land is privately owned by thousands of individuals having their own set of short- and long-term forest management goals. Encouraging private landowners to develop and implement long-term forest management plans with assistance from trained professional foresters is the cornerstone of the Watershed Forestry Program.

Since 1997, more than 850 forest management plans covering more than 130,000 watershed acres have been completed by local foresters and adopted by private landowners in the Catskill/Delaware and Croton Watersheds. Approximately 50 professional foresters are trained to write long-term forest management plans that meet specific water quality protection standards.

Once a forest management plan is completed, the program strives to reduce or eliminate water quality impacts that may occur during forest management operations by encouraging landowners, loggers and foresters to implement forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs). A particular focus is placed on minimizing the impacts of logging equipment during forestry stream crossings and reducing erosion from forest roads, skid trails, and log landings. The Program also provides assistance to landowners for improving the ecological health and economic value of their forests through timber stand improvements, riparian improvements, wildlife habitat improvements, tree planting, and invasive plant control.

Education and training are key elements of the Watershed Forestry Program. In addition to sponsoring more than a dozen logger and forester training workshops throughout the watershed each year, the program also conducts numerous landowner events, wood product training courses, and popular urban/rural school-based educational programs that are designed to teach students and teachers about the important multiple benefits of healthy watershed forests. Everyone is encouraged to visit one of three watershed model forests that have been established for education, demonstration, and research purposes.

For additional information about the Watershed Forestry Program, please contact the WAC at 607-865-7790 or visit

For information about wood products harvested and manufactured locally from the Catskill/Delaware and Croton Watersheds, please visit

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