The Prosper Valley, as it is defined by the ridgelines running through Barnard, Bridgewater, Pomfret and Woodstock, is its own small watershed, a term that refers to an area of land draining into one body of water. The water flowing down from the hill of the gulf region in Barnard into the Prosper Valley eventually all join the Gulf Stream, which flows southeast to the Ottaquechee River, and eventually out to the Lower Connecticut River. Geologists tell us that these streams originally found their paths by flowing through weak points in the bedrock, cracks formed from the pressure of continental collisions. The Connecticut River Valley, of which southern Vermont is a part, is “one of New England’s largest, most historic and most biologically diverse” rivers, spanning the States of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire.
Watersheds are crucial designations of ecosystems, in that they define patterns of movement of nutrients from the rocks and soils, and from plant and animal matter, through natural systems. They also provide drinking water and habitat to plant and animal life. Cultural history is also intricately tied to the water – it defined where people could originally settle, and what resources they had to survive. The earliest people to come to the Prosper Valley – the Abenaki – as well as the European settlers who came in the 1700’s, followed the rivers to the lands that that they farmed. It continues to define our natural resources, industry, and transportation today, as well as affect how we think about our “places” or “homes”.