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How is the Green River watershed unique?
Unlike many other watersheds in Vermont, the Green River watershed is almost completely nestled within a rural landscape. It is dominated by forest cover (roughly 90%), and there are no large developments or major highways crossing the River. As a result, the Green River has fewer stressors on water quality compared to other more developed watersheds. It is home to many native and valuable plant and animal species that make this area unique.
However, this does not mean that stressors or sources of pollution do not exist. For example, climate change is increasing the number of floods, and their destructive power. Floods erode our landscape, and cause pollution in the form of excess sediment. This can make life for aquatic plants difficult, and can decrease fish populations. Low-density development that occurs in our rural neighborhoods breaks-up valuable habitat connectivity, thus hurting the wildlife populations. Studies have shown this movement is important for healthy and balanced ecosystems.
For these reasons, it is important to maintain the relative health of the Green River watershed, and restore what has been damaged.
If you follow the bends of the river's flow, you'll find the water runs from its healthy headwaters in Vermont, and into the Deerfield River in Massachusetts just two miles before reaching the Connecticut River. As a direct connection to the largest waterway in New England, it is of the utmost importance to protect this incredible ecological and cultural resource that rests in our backyard.
What is a watershed?
Look down! You're standing, and everyone is standing, in a watershed. A watershed is the area of land where all of the water that falls in it drains to a common outlet. Watersheds can be as small as a footprint, or large enough to fit all the land that drains water into the Connecticut River, or even the Atlantic Ocean! They can also be called
"drainage basins," or "catchments."
Watersheds are shaped by areas of high elevation. Think of a crater formed by a meteor. All of the rain falling in the crater would not be able to leave due to its walls, so the water would collect in the middle and form a pool. The hills and mountains around you form barriers that hold in water - much like the crater. Eventually, the water will fill up and need to go somewhere. Suddenly, a river forms. Rivers, like lakes, can also have watersheds.
In the case of the Green River, its watershed is the area of land that drains all of the streams and rainfall within it into any point along its channel. Look at the map to the right to see the outline of this watershed. See how the line follows the high points along mountain ridges?
Why care about watersheds?
Watersheds are important because the streamflow and the water quality of a river are affected by things, human-induced or not, happening in the land area "above" the river-outflow point. The land uses within the towns of Marlboro, Halifax, and Guilford in Vermont affect the water quality and flood intensity of the River downstream in Massachusetts. As a watershed group, we look holistically at the land uses and activities within the entire landscape to work towards a healthier watershed ecology overall.