Leaders from around the region recently gathered in New York’s Sullivan County to learn about the impacts of climate change on local water resources and communities and to discuss strategies for reducing vulnerability to these impacts. The workshop, “Building Watershed Resiliency in the Upper Delaware River Region,” was organized by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation and Friends of the Upper Delaware River and hosted by the Sullivan County Division of Planning & Environmental Management and The Nature Conservancy New York Chapter.

Participants gained an understanding about how increased precipitation, flooding, and drought conditions are affecting local water resources, people, communities, and wildlife.

The impacts of climate change and dramatically shifting weather patterns on water resources, public infrastructure, and communities are posing new challenges for watershed management and community planning in the Upper Delaware River region. Warmer temperatures have led to decreased snowpack and lower stream flows in summer, causing thermal stress to trout and other important aquatic species.

More frequent heavy rain events have increased the amount of flooding experienced in the Catskills and northeastern U.S., with expensive results for rural communities.

There was a demonstration on the results of flood and groundwater models recently completed for the Lower Neversink River, which included simulations of a variety of flood sizes, including the devastating 2005 flood. Highlighted methods that can be used for identifying locations at high risk for flooding and erosion, as well as potential restoration sites, were shown.

In the afternoon attendees traveled to The Nature Conservancy’s Neversink Preserve in Orange County, NY for a firsthand view of a mature, functional floodplain forest and examples of floodplain restoration projects in progress.

This project was supported by a grant from the Wildlife Conservation Society through its Climate Adaptation Fund. Support to establish the Climate Adaptation Fund was provided by a grant to the Wildlife Conservation Society from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF).

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