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Vassar College and Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County announce the launch of a new, interactive community watershed website.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY - Vassar College and Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County (CCEDC) announce the launch of a new interactive, community website ( ) that will help members of local watershed groups, municipal officials, youth, teachers, and researchers learn about and protect their local watersheds. was created as a result of the unique collaboration between Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County’s (CCEDC) Environment Program and Vassar College's Environmental Research Institute (ERI). The site was envisioned to become an online community of individuals and watershed organizations working in education, advocacy, research and protection of the watersheds in Dutchess County, New York.
On Tuesday, May 11, the new website site will be officially unveiled at a reception at Vassar College. The reception will begin at 5:30pm in the Multi-Purpose Room of the College Center, located on the second floor in Vassar’s historic Main Building. While the reception is free and open to the public, reservations are requested. Please RSVP to Mary Griffith at (845) 437-5490 or
Fran Dunwell, Hudson River Estuary Coordinator for the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and author of The Hudson America’s River, will discuss the importance of this project. Also, during the reception, there will be computers set up to view and search through the website, and create a login account to participate in the community forum. Stuart Belli (ERI) and Allison Chatrchyan (CCEDC), directors of the Dutchess Watersheds Project will provide a demonstration of the website.
A first time user of the website, Eileen Sassmann, a long time member of the Wappinger Creek Watershed Intermunicipal Council, noted: “The website is an incredible tool for the volunteers and municipal officials working with local watershed protection groups. It is beautifully designed and easy to navigate. The website will allow our group to share information with each other and the community, and get the community involved in our projects, such as the upcoming Watershed Awareness Month in July 2010. This is especially important, since many of the local watershed groups have little to no staffing or budgets and some do not have a website of their own to share information. I can’t wait to use the site on a regular basis.”
The site will allow visitors to find and post information on community events, watershed facts and research data, and multimedia materials for education.
The interactive website contains eight major sections, including:

  •  The homepage that allows visitors to login to create an account to participate in the community forum, and add information about upcoming meetings, events, animal sightings;
  • The “Watersheds” section, which contains detailed information on each of the major watersheds in the county, including geology and maps, major threats and local watershed groups;
  • The “For Kids” section, with information, games, coloring pages geared toward elementary aged youth;
  • The “Research” section, where researchers can collect and share results of their scientific research on streams in Dutchess County, and members of the community can learn more about the research being conducted;
  • The “News and Events” section that provides details of upcoming watershed meetings and events, while the “Dutchess WAM” (or Watershed Awareness Month) section provides information on the July 2010 month-long series of events in Dutchess County; and
  • The “FAQs” and “Resources” sections, which provide more information and links for members of the community, on issues such as stream bank restoration, watershed management plans, groundwater protection, etc.

A watershed, also referred to as a drainage basin, is defined as all of the land area, divided by high ridges, that “sheds” water to a particular outlet, such as a stream, river, or other body of water. As water flows downhill it moves over the land. Along the way, the water picks up many different particles and sediments that can have a negative effect on water quality, including eroded soil, excess fertilizers and pesticides, and motor oil.
There are four major watersheds in Dutchess County, including the Hudson River Direct Drainage watershed, Wappinger Creek Watershed, Fishkill Creek Watershed, and Tenmile River Watershed.  In Northern Dutchess County, the Roeliff Jansen watershed also passes though Dutchess County before entering the Hudson River in Columbia County, while the Croton watershed originates in southern Dutchess County before flowing into Putnam and Westchester Counties.
By creating the new website, CCEDC and Vassar are hoping to educate the community and increase awareness of the importance of watershed protection.  Everyone lives in a watershed and everything we do on our property and in our communities can have a negative impact on the quantity and quality of the water that we all rely upon.  Since the majority of homeowners in Dutchess County rely on well water for their drinking water, it is critical that we all work to protect our water resources.
The website was developed by a team of eight members, including project directors Allison Chatrchyan (Environment Program Leader at CCEDC) and Stuart Belli (Associate Professor of Chemistry at Vassar); Emily Vail and Cat Foley (Vassar) and Carolyn Clocker (CCEDC) were the content experts; Cristian Opazo, Sr. Academic Computing Consultant at Vassar, served as the project manager; Josh de Leeuw ’08 developed the site’s back end using the Joomla! Content Management System; and Debby van Dongen, from, provided the site’s beautiful web design.
For more information, please visit the website at, or contact the CCEDC Environment Program at (845) 677-8223, or the Vassar College Environmental Research Institute at (845) 437-5430.
The project was funded in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation and the New York State Environmental Protection Fund through the Hudson River Estuary Program of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). (Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the NYS DEC.)
Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County provides equal program and employment opportunities. The programs provided by this agency are partially funded by monies received from the County of Dutchess.
Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations or information on accessibility should contact Campus Activities Office at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available.
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Tuesday, April 20, 2010