2021 Year in Review: Protecting Watersheds and Drinking Water

By supporting efforts to protect key forests alongside streams for conservation, OSI continues to safeguard the drinking water resources of countless communities and habitats along the eastern seaboard.

Harnessing the innovative science of trail design, OSI’s hugely popular River-to-Ridge Trail is not only one of the most popular outdoor recreation destinations in New York’s Ulster County, it is also actively protecting local water quality within the adjoining Wallkill River. Today, as an estimated 200,000 annual visitors run, cycle, and stroll along the trail, they recreate alongside OSI projects that will continue to improve on the land’s natural water-filtration properties.

In northern New Jersey, OSI scored a double win for drinking water. In Morris County, OSI unveiled the permit-ready design for the 1,300-acre Boonton Reservoir Protection and Trail Project, which will add local recreational access, safeguard the source of clean drinking water for Jersey City, and create the Garden State's first new park since 2006. As with OSI’s Greenway project, these projects both combine unique opportunities for several municipalities’ increased public access while ameliorating long-term infrastructure and public health challenges resulting from combined sewage overflows after heavy rains.

Along the Delaware River — whose watershed provides clean water to the 15 million residents of Philadelphia, Trenton, and New York City, and beyond — OSI continues to make an enduring impact. In the New Jersey Pinelands, some of the region’s cranberry and blueberry farmers turned to OSI and its partners to conserve heritage agricultural lands, in turn securing more land for clean water. And in northwestern New Jersey, OSI’s support for a project led by The Land Conservancy of New Jersey also prevented incompatible development along the Kittatinny Ridge.

In Maine, OSI’s support of Sebago Clean Waters furthered a public-private effort to safeguard the Sebago Lake Watershed, which produces some of purest drinking water in the country and supplies clean water to one in five Maine residents. As businesses mobilize to support Sebago Clean Waters, OSI and its partners are working to accelerate land protection that will not only ensure clean water and accessible open space, but also support the outdoor-based economy.

At New York’s Mount Trembleau, OSI conserved land that will help filter rainwater for Lake Champlain, the source of drinking water for more than 200,000 people — and created the opportunity for hikers, cyclists, and other recreationists to enjoy spectacular views of the lake.

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2021 Year in Review: Improving Parks & Making the Outdoors More Welcoming

Before year’s end, OSI anticipates the addition of more than 25,000 acres to state and national parks and forests in Georgia, South Carolina, and New York.