The Saw Mill River is one of the few natural green corridors in Lower Westchester. While the river provides habitat for a wide array of plant and animal life including wood frogs, eastern painted turtles, redbreast sunfish, and herons, its health has suffered dramatically from its industrial past. This, along with increasing population density and haphazard land management, has contributed to an ecological system out of balance, with eroded river banks, depleted habitats, and decreased species population and diversity (Army Corp of Engineers, 1999). With an excessive concentration of metals (USGS, Wall et al 1998) as well as high levels of PCBs, orthophosphate, chlorodane and fecal coliform (Rogers, 1987 and Philip 1984), the Saw Mill is a main pollutant of the Hudson River and is a NYS DEC priority watershed.

Our goals for the watershed are to halt degradation, reverse negative trends, and protect and improve natural habitats through a combination of hard science and public engagement. With WCF’s ongoing support, Groundwork is now the lead organization working in the watershed and has achieved impressive results. The Coalition counters degradation by monitoring water quality, cutting invasive vines, and restoring habitat. By freeing over 300 trees from virulent invasive plants, we successfully addressed the most serious threat to one of the watershed’s few remaining functional wetlands. Now we need a broader picture. Through intensive outreach, support from municipal officials is in place, and we have trained a committed core of volunteers.