Gulf of Mexico Watershed
Have you ever heard the word watershed? Do you know what it means? It's the land that water flows across, or under, on its way to a stream, river, or lake. Everyone lives in a watershed. You and everyone in your watershed are part of the watershed community. The animals, birds, and fish are, too.
How do watersheds work? The landscape is made up of many interconnected basins, or watersheds. Within each watershed, all water runs to the lowest point - a stream, river, or lake. On its way, water travels over the surface and across farm fields, forest land, suburban lawns, and city streets, or it seeps into the soil and travels as ground water.
- Did you know that the Gulf of Mexico watershed covers almost two million square miles?
- Do you know where the Gulf of Mexico is located? Can you point to it on a map?
- The Gulf of Mexico is sometimes called America's
Sea - can you guess why?
As you look at a map, you will notice that only five of the 50 United States border the Gulf. Can you name those states?
If you live in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, or Texas, you can easily see how your actions may effect the Gulf of Mexico. If you use too much fertilizer on you lawn, rain could wash it into the Gulf. If you pour chemicals down the drain, they can reach the Gulf pretty easily. If you litter the beaches, waves may wash your trash out into the Gulf, or the wind may blow it there.
But what if you live in Wyoming or Maryland? Will your actions affect the Gulf of Mexico at all? Yes, indeed!
- Did you know that all of the states between
the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains
send their runoff to the Gulf of Mexico. That
includs states as far away as Montana and
New York. Some 33 major rivers drain into
the Gulf of Mexico, as well as innumerable
small rivers, creeks, and streams.
You influence what happens in your watershed, good or bad, by how you treat the natural resources -- the soil, water, air, plants, and animals. What happens in your small watershed also affects the larger watershed downstream.
31 STATES IN THE GULF OF MEXICO WATERSHED