Clean Water Is Good Business In Port Jervis
The City of Port Jervis is a reflection of both its industrial past and the rich natural resources of its future. It lies at the juncture of three state boundaries, two rivers, a major rail line, and an interstate highway, all of which have shaped the region into what it is today. The area around Port Jervis is also marked by hundreds of acres of open space and forested lands, some portions of which have been protected as state parks or preserves. This abundance of natural resources is driving a surge in eco-tourism and outdoor recreation, bringing new business opportunities to an area, which, like many parts of the country, traditionally looked towards industry and manufacturing for jobs and revenue. One of the common denominators in this exciting revival is water.
The hilly terrain north and east of Port Jervis drains into the Neversink River, which flows into the Delaware River and then south into New Jersey. These waters not only provide clean drinking water to countless municipalities downstream in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, they are also a prime outdoor recreational resource for Port Jervis and other communities. Silver Canoe and Whitewater Rafting has been operating on the Delaware River for over 40 years, and current owner Allen Crouthamel knows that the health of the river and its natural surroundings are fundamental to the success of his business. “People come here from the city and the suburbs to get out in nature and enjoy the river,” says Crouthamel, whose business offers rafting, canoeing, and kayaking adventures.
“This company wouldn’t be able to thrive without the protection of the natural resources we depend on to attract visitors and locals alike.” The forests and streams that feed into those larger waters play an integral role in maintaining water quality and contributing to the outdoor tourism boom that has helped revamp the local economy. Just north of Main Street, the Elks-Brox Memorial Park merges into the wilderness of the Port Jervis Watershed Park. The watershed park, and its extensive system of hiking and mountain biking trails, draws thousands of outdoor enthusiasts annually from across the region. The Outdoor Club of Port Jervis and their dedicated volunteers have helped expand the park’s popularity through the creation and stewardship of their trails and by offering guided hikes, bike rides, and nature walks to the public at no charge.
Among the nearly 500 acres comprising the watershed park are three reservoirs that source drinking water to the City of Port Jervis. The reservoirs yield clean drinking water to the public largely because of the habitats surrounding them, which help to control erosion and filter water naturally. The watershed is churning up clean water and plenty of visitors, much to the delight of local businesses, like the Fox-N-Hare Brewing Company, which uses water from the Port Jervis watershed to brew their beer. “Behind every pint of beer we brew there is clean water that was sourced from the reservoirs in the Watershed Park,” said Fox-N-Hare Brewing Company co-owner and brewer Sean Donnelly.“Since beer is made up of 95% water, we feel fortunate to have some of the best water around. That’s why we do what we can as a business to conserve water in our day-to-day operations, and also support organizations that are helping to protect our drinking water.”
It has been said that watersheds know no political boundaries, and the Port Jervis area is increasingly recognized as an important confluence of elements that both impact and benefit the health of the local watershed, and that of the Delaware River basin. Accordingly, this region is a focal point of the Delaware River Watershed Initiative, which consists of over 50 non-profit organizations throughout New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, working in collaboration to clean-up, restore, and protect the Delaware River watershed.
Orange County Land Trust and other organizations, such as the Open Space Institute and the Nature Conservancy, have been instrumental in protecting critical habitats within the Delaware River basin of Orange County, including lands along the southern Shawangunk Ridge and those bordering the Neversink River, Mongaup River, Basher Kill, and their tributaries. However, as more and more municipalities look toward taking proactive measures to protect their drinking water supplies, they have begun forging partnerships with non-profit conservation organizations, like the Orange County Land Trust. In December 2018, the City of Port Jervis was awarded a $1.8M Regional Economic Development Council Grant for watershed protection.
The grant, which is funded through the N.Y.S. Department of Environmental Conservation’s Water Quality Improvement Program and the Environmental Protection Fund, will allow the City of Port Jervis to create a conservation easement program to help protect lands buffering the city’s watershed. To accomplish this, the City has enlisted the help of the Orange County Land Trust to ensure the success of this program. According to Port Jervis Mayor Kelly Decker’s office, protecting these areas will ensure clean drinking water for Port Jervis now and long into the future.
From the Watershed Park to the Delaware River, Port Jervis is riding the wave and reaping the benefits of capitalizing on its plentiful, natural resources; a sound investment that will continue to pay off in more ways than one.