Year in Review 2023: Protecting Clean Water Sources

With our efforts to conserve critical land surrounding rivers, streams, lakes, and headwaters, OSI is protecting drinking water and aquatic habitat throughout the eastern United States.

Protected lands offer tremendous benefits for the water that flows from and through it, with forests and other undeveloped lands filtering and recharging rainwater and other sources of water.

In 2023, OSI’s endeavors resonated across the Delaware River Watershed, which provides drinking water for approximately 15 million people across Trenton, Philadelphia, Wilmington, and New York City. This year saw OSI protect more than a thousand acres in eastern Pennsylvania, safeguarding sources of clean water and securing important lands for carbon storage. Close by, OSI nearly doubled the size of New Jersey’s Michael Huber Prairie Warbler Preserve to roughly 1,900 acres. Through the nine-year-old Delaware River Watershed Protection Fund, OSI and partners have protected approximately 20,000 acres – including this year’s new addition to Pennsylvania’s State Game Lands and a second expansion of New Jersey’s Menantico Creek Preserve.

OSI Catskills Fishing N000184
Fishing in a pristine Catskills stream, forever protected by OSI and partners.
Image Credit: Greg Miller

In New York, more than 260 acres of newly protected land were added to the Sundown Wild Forest of the Catskill Forest Preserve. Conservation of the completely forested Ulster County mountainside, located within the Ashokan Reservoir watershed, safeguards a critical water source supplying about 40 percent of New York City’s daily drinking water needs. Further north in Maine, OSI continued to catalyze efforts to protect drinking water by supporting the conservation of 700 acres of land, including more than a mile of stream habitat and over two miles along the Crooked River.

In the Southeast, the much-anticipated Paint Rock River National Wildlife refuge—the nation’s newest national wildlife refuge, containing the headwaters of the Paint Rock River and home to a diverse array of aquatic life–was created on the border of Tennessee and Alabama. As a longtime supporter for the creation of the refuge, OSI celebrated alongside the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Nature Conservancy this past October.

Finally, OSI built on its recent victories by protecting the historic Cotton Hall property in Beaufort County, South Carolina. This 527-acre tract forms a critical link between connected lands in one of the largest wetland ecosystems on the Atlantic Coast.

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Year in Review 2023: Land for Recreation

OSI understands the vital role trails, greenways, parks, and open spaces can play in promoting physical health and mental well-being, promoting off-road transportation, fostering community bonds, improving local economies, and so much more.