$500,000 grant to help the Neversink River
A National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant will be used to develop a watershed management plan

| January 19, 2023

The Neversink River in Port Jervis
A snowy view of the Neversink River in Port Jervis, N.Y., just before it empties into the Delaware River. PHOTO BY MEG MCGUIRE

The Sullivan County (N.Y.) Planning Division has received a $500,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to develop a Neversink River watershed management plan.

The first steps in that process were presented to the public via a Zoom meeting on Wednesday night with the title “What is a watershed management plan and why do we need one?”

The Neversink River, home to New York City’s Neversink Reservoir, is a relatively narrow river that runs 55 miles from its headwaters near the borders of Sullivan and Ulster Counties in New York to the Delaware River in Port Jervis, N.Y.

Partly because it is narrow, flooding is always a concern for people who live near the river or its tributaries.

George Schuler of The Nature Conservancy explained what a watershed is to help people understand the link between a river and its streams and what happens to culverts — and roads and homes — when they are overwhelmed. 

“The act of planning together builds trust,” he said. “Stakeholders will drive the management plan.”

Heather Jacksy, chief planner at Sullivan County Division of Planning and Environmental Management, built on that thought and recognized that there’s not much appetite in some quarters for more regulations.

“The plan is aspirational, not regulatory,” she said. She did say that “inputs to the plan could lead to regulations but the plan is not itself regulatory.”

Jacksy also made the point that water doesn’t care about municipal boundaries or lot lines. Understanding the whole water system is important.

She expected that “the plan will present conflicts, and it will only be successful if solutions are discussed collaboratively.”

Finally, Steven Schwartz, an environmental consultant, discussed a bit more of the nuts and bolts of how the plan would be developed.

In the early stages, like now, a constant note was struck by all of the speakers that it’s important for as many people to be involved as possible.

More Zoom meetings will be held as well as in-person sessions. More meetings will be held through the spring and summer, with a draft possibly ready by the fall.

Various ways to become involved were offered and suggestions that neighbors talk to neighbors.

The Zoom meeting will be available on the Friends of the Upper Delaware website: https://www.fudr.org/neversinkwmp.

You can also sign up for news of future meetings at info@fudr.org You can reach out to the Sullivan County Planning Department at planning@sullivanny.us.

Meg McGuire

Meg McGuire

Meg McGuire has been a journalist for 30 years in New York and Connecticut. She started in weekly newspapers and moved to full-time work in dailies 25 years ago. She knows about the tectonic changes in journalism firsthand, having been part of what was euphemistically called a "reduction in force" six years ago. Now she's working to find new ways to "do" the news as an independent online publisher of news about the Delaware River, its watershed and its people.

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