A watershed is the land area that drains to a common body of water, such as a stream, lake, bay, or even the ocean. They provide drinking water, habitats for wildlife, soil to grow our food, and locations for fishing, boating and swimming. We all live in a watershed.
Rain that does not soak into the ground becomes runoff and carries soil, pollutants, and other materials from the land into our rivers, lakes and bays. Our everyday activities can affect downstream waters.
Fish depend on watersheds for one reason: SURVIVAL. Individuals must survive to maintain the population, and populations must survive to maintain the species. Fish habitat needs for survival include: feeding, escape, overwinter, spawning, and migration. Different species and different life stages of each species have different habitat needs and these needs change with the different seasons. Just as people use their community to find food, security, seasonal activities, socialization/ recreation, and safe transportation, different species and life stages of fish use different parts of their watershed to find habitat for food, escape (security), overwintering, spawning, and migration.
Unhealthy watersheds affect wildlife. The polluted water supply that results can become harmful to humans. Aquatic life quickly suffers the effects of watershed pollution, while new pollutants introduced into ecosystems alter wildlife habitats. This reduces biodiversity by eliminating some species and introducing new, invasive ones that destroy the native species. That, in turn, can affect the food chain, from microbial organisms that feed birds and animals to fish that feed humans.
Watersheds are used by millions for fishing, hiking, birding, plant and wildlife identification, habitat restoration projects, hunting, passive recreation such as horseback riding and some biking, etc.
Elk Creeks Watershed Association has supported educational programming and projects in the Oxford Area School District and Lincoln University in the past, and is available for new partnerships to continue the watershed education legacy!
P.O. Box 111, Oxford, PA 19363