Rondout Creek Watershed Alliance celebrates Earth Day with a new brochure highlighting the Rondout Creek Watershed

The brochure features native Munsee tributary names contributed by Evan Pritchard. 

The Rondout Creek Watershed Alliance was established in 2018 to restore the Rondout Creek and its tributaries to their prime, to act as the voice of the Creek, and to advocate for the protection and improvement of the watershed by increasing community awareness and implementing collaborative conservation efforts. Its mission area includes all tidal, non-tidal and upper Rondout Watershed communities that include the Town of Neversink, Town of Wawarsing, Village of Ellenville, Town of Rochester, Town of Marbletown, Town of Rosendale, Town of Esopus, Town of Ulster and City of Kingston.

The group has been meeting monthly since 2018 and has launched a brochure in time for Earth Day that highlights the Rondout Creek watershed.

“I am thrilled that we have a brochure celebrating the Rondout Creek watershed,” said Laura Finestone the founder and chair of the alliance. “It was a collaborative effort on so many fronts. I am particularly pleased that we were able to include Munsee names and begin the process of bringing more awareness about the rich heritage and history of our watershed ”

“Working with the amazing volunteers of the RCWA and our partners with our many projects along the Rondout and its tributaries has been a pleasure,” said Eric Stewart, a member of the Marbletown town board and key member of the RCWA. “I think I speak for all of us in saying that the group’s commitment to our county’s environmental health is an inspiration.”

The brochure includes some of the Munsee names to the Rondout (Kahaksink) tributaries thanks to the contributions of historian/author of Native American Studies and Director of the Center for Algonquin Culture Evan Pritchard.

“My role in helping to develop the new Rondout Watershed brochure has been to restore original native names to these waterways. It is an ongoing process, but in this case perhaps the brochure is a “watershed event” in that it is bi-lingual, featuring both English and Munsee Delaware toponymics,” said Pritchard. “Languages generally derive from–or at least within—a land area, and Esopus Munsee (Delaware) is no exception. It is a beautiful and highly descriptive language that developed mostly within the twin watersheds of the beautiful Rondout and Esopus Creeks, and surrounding Ulster County. In a future Alliance website version, in progress, I hope to share the native names of confluences, islands, waterfalls, and fishing spots, as well, all of which paint a lasting mental picture of what these places look like, and how they interconnect with the ecological web of life we enjoy. My thanks to Laura Heady, Rebecca Martin and others who have helped along the way.”

A key visual of the brochure is the watershed map created by Laura Heady who serves as the Conservation and Land Use Program Coordinator, Hudson River Estuary Program/Cornell University.

“I’ve had the privilege and great pleasure to work with many Rondout watershed municipalities on local conservation planning projects, including open space plans in Marbletown, Rochester, and Wawarsing,” said Heady.  “As a resident of Rosendale, I join those communities in celebrating and valuing the incredible biodiversity, land, and water we share in the Rondout watershed. Through the efforts of the Rondout Creek Watershed Alliance and the beautiful new brochure, more watershed residents will be reminded that the creek and its tributaries wind their way through our communities and our lives. Whether a municipal official, a landowner, a business — collectively, we share a stewardship responsibility to leave behind a legacy of clean water and wildlife habitat, and to sustain the beauty and vitality of our remarkable home watershed.”

In 2010 the Rondout Creek Watershed Council created an Interim Watershed Management Plan for the lower non-tidal portion of the Rondout Creek with the support of many partners including Hudson River Sloop Clearwater through a generous grant by the Hudson River Estuary Program.  The effort led to a Tidal Rondout Creek Watershed Management Plan created by the City of Kingston in 2015.  From that point on, the Hudson Riverkeeper’s Water Quality program in conjunction with community members living in the Rondout Creek led by Finestone initiated a yearly Rondout Creek summit that helped to spearhead the projects of an alliance that includes both the tidal and non-tidal Rondout Creek Watershed.

“The Rondout Creek and its sister, the Wallkill River, together form the largest tributary system to the Hudson River Estuary, making the Rondout Creek Watershed Alliance an important voice not only for the Rondout, but also for the region,” said Jennifer Espstein, Water Quality Program Scientist, Riverkeeper.  “To be good stewards of the Rondout Creek and the living things that depend upon it, we must also pay attention to the land around it – in other words, the creek’s watershed. The process of creating this brochure was part of the broader process of rebuilding the Rondout Creek Watershed Alliance, and it is exciting to see the group begin this new phase of its existence by creating a resource to educate people about the interconnections that sustain the Rondout Creek Watershed.”

A hard copy of the brochure can be found in many locations throughout Ulster County.  To download a copy, please visit the RCWA’s website at:

The brochure was made possible in part by a grant from the Hudson Valley Regional Council. Special thanks to Marian McCorkle Design for the brochure design.