The WetNet is a program of Hickory Creek Consulting, developed by Karen Schneller-McDonald. For more information about Hickory Creek and its services, go to HickoryCreekLLC.com.

Publications, reviews, and interviews are presented on the Hickory Creek website.


Why The WetNet and Connecting the Drops?
Both website and book were created in response to our need for effective water protection. All of us have a right to clean water, and enjoyment of the many benefits provided by lakes, wetlands, streams and aquifers.

Journey into water

A word from author and WetNet creator Karen Schneller-McDonald:

portraitI first discovered the world of nature in my backyard pond and wetland, in New York’s Hudson Valley. From the first time I could put on my own rubber boots, I began to chart my course into the water.

Eventually I moved to Colorado, and then Montana, returning to New York in 2001. My professional experiences as an environmental impact assessment consultant, wildlife biologist, and wetland specialist took me to projects in Colorado, California, Texas, Arizona, Montana, and New York. Cottonwood Consulting, the company I started in Colorado, became Hickory Creek after I moved back to New York.

Hickory Creek Experience: the “yawning gap”

As I reviewed references and research reports and observed conditions in the field I couldn’t help but see the disparity between how much we know about healthy ecosystems  and the difficulty of protecting or restoring them.

As we pile up reports containing ever more information, the condition of the land and water resources in our backyards continues to get worse. Whether the end result is contaminated drinking water, a river with fish that are too contaminated to eat, a flood after every heavy rain—human development activities are affecting water everywhere.

The gap grows between what we know about protecting water, and what we are able to accomplish.

Connecting the Drops

portrait on rockTo bridge the gap and make the point that water protection is up to us, I pulled together basic information to help people make the connections between natural resources and impacts.

I wanted to be able to hand individuals a single reference that would present the basic information in one place: ecosystems and watersheds as systems that provide us with benefits; how our (land
development) actions affect those systems; and how we can overcome the obstacles to protecting our environment.

We need to ask the right questions about the condition of our water, and know how to evaluate the answers we receive.


What do you do when development comes to your town, and threatens the water resources you value?

How much risk will you accept when it comes to water pollution, shortages, flooding, and ecosystem damage?

The WetNet: Action and support

P1010247The WetNet includes:

  •  Tips for developing local water resource protection laws and for putting together and using a watershed conservation plan
  • Contacts to over 200 conservation organizations (throughout the US and other countries) that are working to protect water resources, and an opportunity to add your organization to this list
  • An opportunity (via contact form) to ask specific questions  and request “how to” information  for local water resource protection.

fisher and heronThe other bottom line

People who protect the environment struggle under pressure to come up with dollar values for natural resources so they can be reviewed in cost/benefit analyses. This gives us the pervasive “money is the bottom line”–  where natural resources protection rarely prevails. Sometimes we  come up with a monetary value for selected natural resource benefits (such as flood protection) and this can be an eye-opener for those who never thought of nature in those terms.

But  assigning a dollar value to a clear running stream or a chorus of peepers doesn’t reflect their true value.

The motivation to give time, money, and energy to protecting the environment often relates to a different bottom line: Commitment to the common good, a sustainable future, clean air and water.


Our personal connection with nature is a powerful motivator. Passion for a particular place, outdoor activity or adventure, childhood memory, or beautiful view can give us the energy to protect the environment that we depend on for life.

Get started.



Resume | Karen Schneller-McDonald

See Hickory Creek website for full listing of professional experience and publications.

Education and training

North Carolina State University: B.S. Conservation of Natural Resources 1974;  Colorado State University Graduate School: Plant Ecology and Plant Geography

  • Pace Land Use Law Center, Land Use Leadership Alliance Training Program
  • American Writers and Artists Institute. Copywriting, e-newsletters, website content
  • SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and NYS DEC, Stormwater Management Program courses (regulations, erosion and sediment control, design practices)
  • “Functional Assessment of Wetland and Riparian Ecosystems and Wetland Identification”, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Ecology Research Center

Selected Experience

Hickory Creek Consulting, Red Hook, New York. President. 2003 to present.  Environmental impact evaluation and pubic outreach services to municipalities and organizations. Land trust conservation easement inspection and evaluation (Mohonk Preserve); wetland delineation and assessment; environmental impact review and mitigation; watershed management and restoration planning (e.g. Lower Esopus Watershed); habitat assessment guidelines; natural resource inventories; stormwater Best Management Practices review; water resource protection laws. Preparation of brochures, reports, and fact sheets; workshops; presentations, e.g. “Woodstock Wetlands and Streams: Local Protection”;  “Lower Esopus Watershed Management Plan: Phase One” (Lower Esopus Watershed Partnership); “Integrating Natural Resources Protection into Land Use Decisions” (Pace Land Use Leadership Alliance Training); and “Wetlands, Watersheds and Fisheries” (Trout Unlimited).

Wildlife Conservation Society/Metropolitan Conservation Alliance, Rye, New York. Biodiversity Coordinator: Hudson Valley Programs.  2001-2002. Program in partnership with Hudson Valley municipalities (15 townships/ 5 counties) to develop balance between economic growth and conservation of natural resources. Site selection for field surveys; landowner contacts; supervision of field survey team; educational presentations.

Cottonwood Consulting, Fort Collins, Colorado. Wetland specialist. 1992-1998. Wetland delineations and restoration planning; environmental impact assessment.

ENTRIX, Inc., Fort Collins, Colorado.  Natural Resource Specialist. 1990-1991.  Manager for terrestrial and aquatic projects; biological assessments; environmental reviews and permits; habitat and wildlife surveys.

National Ecology Research Center (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), Fort Collins, Colorado.  Wildlife Biologist and Technical Writer/Editor, 1986-1990.  Developed wetland creation and restoration data base and evaluated wetland functions and values information for research and regulatory purposes. Project officer for research on riparian ecosystem restoration; vegetative plot monitoring and riparian management, Boulder Creek.

Laboratory for Information Science in Agriculture, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, and Washington, D.C.  Researcher and Operational Analyst, 1982-1984. Information management, evaluation of pesticide product label data for US Environmental Protection Agency.

Dynamac Corp., Fort Collins, Colorado.  Information Specialist/Technical Writer, 1981-1982. Environmental reviews and cumulative impact assessment.

City of Syracuse, New York.  Senior Planner/Environmental Specialist, 1977-1980.

Sharpe Environmental Education Center, Fishkill, New York.  Teacher/Naturalist, 1975-1976.


Winnakee Land Trust.  Easement evaluation committee, 2009-present.

Wallkill Valley Land Trust. Annual Hudson Valley historic house tours, 2014.

Land Use, Development and Conservation Working Group, Red Hook, New York. Co-chair. 2004.

Sullivan Renaissance (Sullivan County), Community project judge, 2007-present.

Laporte Area Planning Advisory Committee, Laporte, Colorado. 1994-1998.

Selected Publications and reports

  • Schneller-McDonald, K. 2015. Connecting the drops: A citizen’s guide for protecting water resources. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.
  • Schneller-McDonald, K. 2012. Habitat assessment, ecosystems, and a new approach for evaluating development impacts. Northeast Natural History Conference, Syracuse, New York.
  • Schneller-McDonald, K. 2012. Water resources protection: development of local laws. Environmental Conservation Commission, Gardiner, New York.
  • Schneller-McDonald, K. 2012. Woodstock wetlands and streams: local protection. Town of Woodstock, NY.
  • Schneller-McDonald, K. 2012. Lower Esopus watershed management plan: phase 1. Lower Esopus Watershed Partnership, Kingston, New York.
  • Schneller-McDonald, K. 2008. “Effective Watershed and Wetland Protection: Development of Local Laws” Association of State Wetland Managers National Symposium: Wetlands 2008: Wetlands and Global Climate Change, Portland, Oregon.
  • Schneller-McDonald, K. 2005. Wallkill River Corridor Study: Town of Montgomery, Orange County. Hickory Creek Consulting LLC., Red Hook, N.Y.

See Hickory Creek website for full listing of professional experience and publications.

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