Watershed Restoration: Principles and Practices

Chapter 22: Restoration of Trout Waters in the East: Beaverkill-Willowemoc Watershed of New York

J. Conyngham and J. M. McGurrin

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781888569049.ch22

The Beaverkill-Willowemoc river system (hereafter referred to as the Beaverkill-Willowemoc, see Figure 22.1) in New York State’s Catskill Mountains is widely acknowledged as the cradle of fly-fishing in America and a trout fishery of international caliber. From the nineteenth century to the present, this river system has formed the mainstay of a large tourist industry. Much of the Beaverkill-Willowemoc watershed appears relatively pristine, a remarkable quality given that it is only a 2-hour drive from New York City and other nearby metropolitan areas. Long stretches of the upper reaches and portions of the main stem offer excellent trout habitat in sparsely settled surroundings.

Whereas some headwater areas have never experienced significant disturbance, the pristine appearance of many others represents a healing from past conditions. Numerous environmentally destructive industries, such as tanneries, and wood alcohol distilleries, have shared the watershed with tourism and angling. The last of these industries ceased operation by the end of World War II, but its effects continue to reverberate.