Talk focuses on Butternut Creek's future

Shweta Karikehalli | The Daily Star OCCA Environmental Planner Danny Lapin speaks at the first Butternut Creek Watershed Management Plan meeting Wednesday night at New Lisbon Town Hall.

Stakeholders discussed watershed management priorities at the first Butternut Creek Watershed Management Plan meeting Wednesday night at the New Lisbon Town Hall in Garrattsville.

A watershed is a land area that channels rain and melted snow to creeks, streams and rivers which then flow into reservoirs, bays and the ocean, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website. The Butternut Creek watershed’s outflow point is the Chesapeake Bay, a large economically and environmentally important water resource with headwaters in Cooperstown.

The watershed covers six towns — Exeter, Burlington, Morris, Pittsfield, New Lisbon and Butternuts — and the villages of Gilbertsville and Morris.

One of the main goals of the management plan is to help meet the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay cleanup goals for the year 2025, said Danny Lapin, OCCA environmental planner. Other goals include increasing outdoor tourism revenue, helping residents and visitors establish a connection with the watershed and prioritizing watershed management projects. Stakeholders will help with plan development by gathering data on the watershed through citizen science, assisting with policy development and doing public outreach.

Stakeholders identified watershed management priorities at the meeting, including greater recreational use of the creek, invasive species management, flood management and solid waste disposal and management. Tom Washbon, a Morris resident who attended the meeting, said he counted 150 tires in a half-mile stretch of the watershed.

The management plan is being prepared by Otsego County Conservation Association in partnership with the Otsego County Soil and Water Conservation District, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the Otsego County Land Trust and the Butternut Valley Alliance.

“The goal is to get the public interested and engaged in the process, and from there we want to get each municipality in the watershed engaged in this process,” Lapin said. “That way, we can come up with a strategy to really boost water quality protection in the area, without compromising economic growth or the sovereignty of each municipality.”

The next Butternut Creek Watershed Management Plan meeting will be August 14 at 6:30 p.m. at New Lisbon Town Hall. Those interested can learn more by visiting http://www.occainfo.org or contacting Lapin at 607-547-4488 or at planner@occainfo.org.

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.