Mohawk River Watershed Management
The Old Erie Canal, painting by L.F. Tantillo, circa 1895
Located in central New York State, the Mohawk River is the largest tributary to the Hudson River. The approximately 3,460 square mile Mohawk River Basin makes up roughly 25% of the entire Hudson River drainage area. The Mohawk River headwaters are located between the southwestern portion of the Adirondack Mountains and the eastern edge of the Tug Hill Plateau. From here the river flows south towards Rome where it turns due east and carves a 140 mile path for the Erie Barge Canal before joining the Hudson River in Cohoes. The Mohawk River Basin includes several major tributaries and reservoirs, including Schoharie Creek, West Canada Creek, East Canada Creek, Hinckley Reservoir, Delta Reservoir and Schoharie Reservoir.
The major land-use types in the Mohawk River Basin are forest and agriculture. Within the Adirondack Mountain portion of the Basin and the Schoharie Creek watershed, forest cover dominates. Agriculture tends to be more prevalent in areas adjacent to the main stem of the Mohawk River in the fertile floodplain. Residential, commercial, and industrial land-use in the basin is largely limited to population centers along the main stem of the Mohawk River and Barge Canal.
The Mohawk River Basin Program
The NYSDEC has recently initiated a focused effort to conserve, preserve, and restore the environmental quality of the Mohawk River and its watershed, while helping to manage the resources of the region for a sustainable future. The establishment of a Mohawk River Basin Program to act as a coordinator of basin-wide activities to achieve these goals is a key component of this effort. However the success of the program will require the involvement of stakeholders and the creation of partnerships with established programs and organizations throughout the basin. To this end, the Mohawk River Basin Program will follow the successful model of the Hudson River Estuary Program.
The impact of the Mohawk River and its watershed on the Hudson River Estuary create an obvious link to the Estuary Program. Adopting a similar model will help accomplish the goal of developing a "whole Hudson" ecosystem-based management approach to managing the Hudson River Estuary. At the same time, a separate Mohawk River Basin Program promotes needed focus on the Mohawk Valley and its own unique culture, history, resources and concerns and a regional approach would help to address the unique challenges of the Basin.
The Action Agenda
The first steps in fulfilling this mission are represented in the Mohawk River Basin Program Action Agenda (PDF, 979 Kb). The Action Agenda grew out of a stakeholder meeting to solicit input on priority management goals and possible actions. Many local and regional organizations were represented at this meeting and additional meetings will be held to continue to engage stakeholders in the basin and to solicit additional partners. It is hoped that all parties interested in sustaining the Mohawk River Valley, for today and the future, will come together to assist in reaching the goals set forth in this Action Agenda.