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What is a Watershed?

A watershed is an area in which all water flows to a common destination, whether it is a stream, lake, estuary, wetland, or the ocean. Picture trying to catch raindrops with your hand. As the rain drops collect and run down the spaces between your fingers they will end up in the palm of your hand. Imagine that your finger tips are the highest area of land around you like mountains and the spaces between your fingers that carry the water to your palm are the streams that flow in the valleys of those mountains. The water all ends up in one common area.

Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. No matter where you are, you are in a watershed. All of the water that flows over the land or under the ground in Clinton County eventually ends up in the West Branch of the Susquehanna River which flows to the Chesapeake Bay.

Clinton County 's watersheds abound with positive attributes. In fact, approximately 73% of Clinton County's waters are classified by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection as "special protection" indicating that they are either of exceptional value or high quality.

That said however, Clinton County is also home to the legacies left behind from a rich history of unregulated resource extraction and agricultural activities. These legacies include almost 200 miles of impaired waters from abandoned coal mining operations and agricultural practices.

The Clinton County Conservation District supports a variety of efforts to protect and restore Clinton County's natural resources. Contact the watershed specialist to find out how you and become involved.

Why We Manage Watersheds:

Watersheds and streams are very dynamic systems that under natural conditions generally support good water quality and a healthy population of fish and the things fish need to grow and reproduce. A healthy stream includes a stable biological and physical environment where plants and animals, nutrients, oxygen, habitat, temperature, and much more constitutes an ecosystem. Even the dead leaves and branches of trees are important parts of the stream ecosystem.

Many things can lead to a stream becoming "unhealthy" and in need of repair including poor agricultural practices, inadequate stormwater management, disturbance to areas adjacent and in some cases far away from the stream, extraction of minerals and fuels from the ground, and inputs of nutrients that change the ecosystem.