Photo by Lou Buscher - Basha Kill bald eagle and eaglet, 2003 Photo by Alan A. Minkus Photo by Alan A. Minkus

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The Basha Kill Wildlife Management Area
Cardinal flower, July 2011, Eleanor Knieriemen

Cardinal flower
July 2011, Eleanor Knieriemen.

This tranquil wildlife habitat and recreation area is located just south of Wurtsboro, between Route 209 and South Road. The Basha Kill valley was inhabited initially by Native Americans and then, beginning in the mid-1700s, by settlers from Europe. The area at the southern end of the Basha Kill Management Area, was first known as Basha's Land, then Bessie's Land, and later as Bashusville. It was finally named in honor of T. Van Keuren Westbrook, and a stone fort was built there in 1753. This was one of four forts built that year in the valley west of the Shawangunk Ridge. "Kill" is the Dutch word for stream.

The Basha Kill was one of the famous streams of Sullivan County. In the early days, it was much wider and deeper than at present, and its course was much straighter. In 1825, records show that pine logs were rafted down the kill to the Neversink River, then to the Delaware River, and on to Philadelphia and the tidewater. The Basha Kill was known for the large number of fish it contained.

Farmland on both sides of the Kill were regularly cultivated and planted in crops. Hurricane Diane, in 1956, changed that scene drastically. The Pine Kill, flowing down the ridge to the west of the Basha Kill, brought many large boulders in its wake. They were mostly deposited in the Basha Kill where the two streams meet in Westbrookville. A dam was formed and the Wetlands we now know were created north of the dam.

We are fortunate to live near the largest wetland in Southeastern New York State as they are vitally important to our environment.

Southern view of Basha Kill June 2012, Linda Lou Bartle

Southern view of Basha Kill
June 2012, Linda Lou Bartle

In 1972, the State of New York, through the Department of Environmental Conservation, purchased over 2,000 acres for the Wildlife Management Area.

New York State has been protecting wildlife since 1895. More than 200,000 acres of land have been purchased throughout the State and are designated as "Wildlife Management Areas." These lands are managed by the D .E.C. to provide quality wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. Wetlands, including the Basha Kill Wildlife Management Area benefit the people and the environment of New York State. Wetlands contribute to: Mood and storm water control; Surface and groundwater protection; Erosion control; Pollution treatment and nutrient cycling; Healthy Fish and wildlife habitat; and Public enjoyment including fishing, boating, bird-watching, hunting and hiking.

Almost 200 species of birds, 30 varieties of fish, and innumerable plants, reptiles, mammals, and insects, live in the area.

Above all, The Basha Kill Wildlife Management Area is a place to breathe deeply and feel the beauty and peace of a unique, unspoiled natural place.

— By Jon Reed

Sources include: NYS-DEC, Mamakating Historical Society, Basha Kill Area Association, Town of Mamakating

The DEC has defined Regulations and Public Use in the Bashakill Wildlife Management Area. To review that please click the following links:

Read the truth about Taxes and the BWMA.

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