Town wins grant for Wawayanda Creek awareness project

Project will focus on local watershed and the creek’s history, ecology and importance in the community


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  • This photo of the Wawayanda Creek in the Town of Warwick was taken by Barbara Restaino.



WARWICK — The Town of Warwick has received a $10,000 grant from the state to implement a public outreach and education project about the upper Wawayanda Creek and its watershed.

This project will include several educational presentations for citizens of Warwick to learn about this local watershed and the creek’s history, ecology and importance in the community.

“The Wawayanda Creek valley has a rich history and is home to important environmental resources,” Warwick Town Supervisor Mike Sweeton said in a press release announcing the grant. “The re-development of the Mid-Orange Correctional Facility, including the potential for increasing public access to Wickham Lake and other recreation and open space at this site, provides an important opportunity for the community that can complement our economic development goals. This education project will highlight the value of these resources for the town and their potential for the future.”

The Wawayanda Creek, a major tributary of the Wallkill River, has its headwaters above Wickham Lake and flows through the Village of Warwick into the Town.

Building on the Strategic Plan for the Wawayanda Creek completed recently by the Village of Warwick for the creek’s corridor through the downtown business district, the new awareness project sponsored by the Town of Warwick will look at a larger area, including Wickham Lake, the community’s reservoirs and areas downstream of the village.

These educational presentations will:

Highlight the area’s important historic and cultural resources.

Provide an overview of what is currently known about the watershed’s water quality, ecology, and wildlife and about potential approaches to increase resilience in floods.

Describe existing local efforts to monitor and restore the creek, including activities of students and teachers in the Warwick Valley School District.

Introduce ideas about how to protect and enhance public access to the creek and its tributaries and to Wickham Lake.

Explore economic development strategies compatible with a healthy watershed, including links to the redevelopment of the Mid-Orange Correctional Facility campus, which can provide new public access and other opportunities along the creek and at Wickham Lake.

Offer an overview of water quality and biodiversity protection and restoration strategies.

Engage residents, business leaders and others in dialogue about beginning a community-based initiative to carry forward the development of a comprehensive strategy for managing and enhancing the Wawayanda Creek watershed over time.

Interested citizens and community leaders are invited to participate and contribute to this initiative, including artists, businesses, outdoors enthusiasts and everyone who cares about this area.

Essential information
This project has the support of Sustainable Warwick, the Warwick Conservancy, the Warwick Valley Central School District, the Orange County Land Trust, the Orange County Water Authority, the Village of Warwick and the Orange County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Simon Gruber, an environmental planner specializing in watershed planning who’s been visiting and studying the Warwick area for many years, and Barbara Restaino, RLA, LEED AP, a landscape architect whose work includes a focus on sustainability, are leading this project for the Town of Warwick.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation provided funding for this project from the Environmental Protection Fund through the Hudson River Estuary Program, in partnership with the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission.

For more information visit the Town’s Web site for announcements at www.townofwarwick.org/ or contact Simon Gruber, sgruber100 (at) verizon.net, 845-534-5622.

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