Overview: The Saw Kill is a relatively clean watershed and a thriving home for many species. However, it faces some concern with salt levels, nutrient runoff, and pathogens. Other threats include climate change, flooding, dams, invasive species, and industrial pollutants.
Water Quality Information
Dr. Eli Deuker at Bard College heads research on the quality of the Saw Kill as both a habitat for wildlife and a drinking water resource. Thanks to generous funding by the Hudson River Foundation, the Bard Water Lab will be opened in April 2016 and will be a resource for the Saw Kill Watershed Community for research about the waterway. Our research results will be made available as soon as possible and used to refine management and protection plans for the Saw Kill.
Additional information on water quality:
Water Quality in the Village of Red Hook, Dutchess County, New York: Evaluation of Possible Septic System Wastewater Contamination. Academic research project submitted to the Bard Master of Arts in Teaching program by Ariadne N. Prior-Grosch (graduate of Bard MS in Environmental Policy and Bard MAT).
American eel populations in the Saw Kill are monitored by Dan Miller from the Hudson River Estuary Program and citizen scientists from the surrounding communities. To find out more about American Eel research in our area, click here.
In 1995, Hudsonia conducted a study on the barriers to upstream movement for migratory fish in Hudson River tributaries. The final report generated a map of the aquatic barriers which include a small waterfall and a small dam at the mouth of the Saw Kill, and assessed the feasibility of implementing fish ladders and other methods to mitigate disrupted migration.
Currently, the Hudson River Estuary Program and other associations are working on restoring free-flowing tributaries of the Hudson River by gradually removing some of the 1,500 dams and 10,000 culverts in the Hudson River Estuary where appropriate. This interactive map from the Hudson River Estuary Barrier Project indicates the location of the dams and culverts in the Hudson River Estuary and where they impede the migration of fish.
Planning for Resilient, Connected Natural Areas and Habitats: A Conservation Framework. A pilot project conducted by: the Town of Red Hook, Village of Red Hook, and Village of Tivoli, with Financial support from the Hudson River Estuary Program and Cornell University. Prepared by AKRF, Inc. and GREENPLAN, Inc. December 15, 2014.
Land Protection Information
Some land and water in the Saw Kill Watershed is protected by conservation easements. Conservation easements are contracts between landowners and private/non-profit entities to restrict certain uses of the property. Usually the entity purchases the development rights of the site, so the landowner still owns and uses the property but cannot develop or alter the landscape. Conservation easements are often agreed upon “in perpetuity” so that no development can ever happen there. The land can be sold but the restrictions of the easements still stand.
Here’s a map of the major easements and easement holders in the Red Hook area (the Saw Kill watershed is between two large orange areas in the upper left):
Here’s a screenshot of our part of the map (edited):