About the Saw Kill and its Watershed


IMG_20151020_125731208The Saw Kill is an important body of water in the villages and towns of Red Hook, Milan, Tivoli, and Rhinebeck, and the hamlet of Annandale-on-Hudson (where Bard College is located).

The Saw Kill plays an important role in our communities: it is a source of drinking water and also a place where treated water is released; it is a place to recreate by swimming, fishing, boating or nature-watching; it is an important historical resource with many dams and mills having been built since early European settlement and first peoples settling here thousands of years earlier.

The Saw Kill is a “direct drainage” tributary to the Hudson River. For more information on direct drainage in Dutchess county, see this website:


The Saw Kill Watershed

The Saw Kill Watershed is a 26.2 square mile area that drains water directly into the Hudson River via the South Tivoli Bay. It is a subwatershed of the Hudson Direct Drainage system, which includes all direct drainages in the western part of Dutchess County. The watershed includes land in the towns of Red Hook, Milan, and Rhinebeck. Source: http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/ 92370.html, accessed 10/15/15


The Saw Kill watershed includes farmland. Livestock, apples, and grasses are some of the things raised here.


The New York State DEC’s Nature Explorer database contains a complete list of the plant and animal species found in the state by county, including their conservation status. Dutchess county contains many rare species, including the Indiana Bat, Bald Eagle, and Bog Turtle. For a complete list of species, click here.

The DEC, through its Hudson River Estuary Program, is currently monitoring American eels (Anguilla rostrata) on the Saw Kill, and keeping an eye out for the invasive Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis).

A History of People on the Saw Kill

The Saw Kill has a fascinating history from the first peoples to settle this land to the people who live here today. Archaeological sites have revealed that the earliest people arrived in the watershed thousands of years ago. Mansions and mills were constructed by people who arrived in the 18th and 19th centuries. Properties have changed hands and put to many uses, from fishing to hydroelectric power. Protection of the Saw Kill has been a continuing theme of its history. In 2016 we celebrate the 175th anniversary of a “conservation compact” between the residents of the estates now known as Montgomery Place and Blythewood. It is fitting that the two properties were joined as one, as Bard College acquired Montgomery Place in January of that year.

The Saw Kill Watershed Community

The Saw Kill Watershed Community (SKWC) is made up of all the residents of the watershed, and some close neighbors! This means folks who live or work in Milan, Red Hook, Rhinebeck, and Annandale-on-Hudson who are interested in the protection and management of the Saw Kill and its watershed. Our group is made up of farmers, scientists, students, educators, sportsmen, historians, conservationists, municipal leaders, and many others.

Maps of the Watershed

Saw Kill map - Hudson Valley Natural Resource Mapper


Sawkill_subbasins_land cover_large_more

GIS Map by Tom O'Dowd

Map by Tom O’Dowd



USGS Map of Saw Kill