Natural Resources of the Neversink River Watershed

Science Center Objects

Problem - A variety of factors potentially impact natural resources in the Neversink River basin and in other tributaries to the Upper Delaware River along the New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey boarders in the northeastern US. Increased urbanization within most watersheds of the Delaware River has decreased forested lands and ground permeability; fractionated forests, streams, and rivers;...

Problem - A variety of factors potentially impact natural resources in the Neversink River basin and in other tributaries to the Upper Delaware River along the New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey boarders in the northeastern US. Increased urbanization within most watersheds of the Delaware River has decreased forested lands and ground permeability; fractionated forests, streams, and rivers; impounded flowing waters, and discharged municipal, agricultural, and industrial pollutants into many waterways. The effects on water quality and hydrology have been quantified relatively well. The direct impacts of these perturbations on biological components of stream and river ecosystems are sometimes known, however, more often than not, they are poorly understood. For example, American eel, Anguilla rostrata, populations in the Northeast have declined dramatically over most of their historic ranges during the past 30 years; and, the number and diversity of mussel species have decreased nationwide over the same period. To address several of these uncertainties and unique issues in the Neversink River, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is cooperating with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Sullivan County on a long-term research and monitoring program mainly within the Neversink River Watershed. The intent of this program is to refine relations between aquatic fish and macroinvertebrates, common and rare mussel species, health of stream ecosystems, physical habitat, hydrology, and the quality of surface and ground waters in the Neversink River and in nearby tributaries to the Upper Delaware River.
 

Objectives - Primary objectives of this study are to gather information and evaluate tangible and potential effects of the Neversink Reservoir, Cuddebackville dam (recently removed), chemical contaminants, and other physical (dam removal and channel geomorphology) perturbations on mussel populations (e.g., the federally endangered dwarf wedgemussel, Alasmidonta heterodon, figure 1, and the New York State threatened swollen wedgemussel, Alasmidonta varicosa, figure 2), anadromous or catadromous fish (e.g., the American eel, figure 3), and general fish and macroinvertebrate assemblages in the Neversink River Watershed. Specific issues include: (1) the effects of the recent removal of the Cuddebackville Dam on fish, mussels, and macroinvertebrate communities and channel geometry in the lower Neversink River, (2) the frequency and magnitude of low flow and high flow (flooding) events in the lower Neversink, Basha Kill, and Pine Kill, (3) population structure, life-history strategies, timing of migration, and natural history of American eel in the Neversink River and in other tributaries to the Upper Delaware River, and (4) the effects of the Neversink Reservoir on various interrelated natural resources (biological and physical) of the Neversink River.

Products for this study will include summaries of hydrology, habitat, biology, chemistry, and channel-geometry data, presentation of results at local and national meetings, and publication of important results (e.g., the relations of environmental factors with the distributions and health of mussel, American eel, and general macroinvertebrate populations and communities) via the web and as USGS Open File reports and peer-reviewed papers.

Project
Location by County

Ulster County, NY, Sullivan County, NY