New Support for the Beautiful -and Essential- Hudson River Estuary

Almost half of the Hudson River is an estuary, a combination of ocean tides and freshwater. The Hudson River Estuary stretches 153 miles, from Troy to New York Harbor. The River itself runs 315 miles, flowing south from Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondacks.

“Estuaries are among the most productive of Earth’s ecosystems,” says the state Department of Environmental Conservation in a wonderful description of the Hudson River:

“The estuary feels the ocean’s tidal pulse all the way to Troy. Push a stick into the beach at the water’s edge, or note the water’s height on a piling or rock. Check back in 20 minutes. Is the water level the same? The estuary usually has two high and two low tides in twenty-four hours…

The estuary’s productivity is ecologically and economically valuable to much of the Atlantic Coast; key commercial and recreational species like striped bass, bluefish, and blue crab depend on nursery habitat here. Bald eagles, herons, waterfowl, and other birds feed from the river’s bounty. Tidal marshes, mudflats, and other significant habitats in and along the estuary support a great diversity of life.”

Much Healthier but Still Vulnerable

After decades of hard work by citizens groups and government agencies, the Hudson River is one of the healthiest estuaries on the Atlantic Coast. Nonetheless, it is still threatened by multiple pollution sources -ranging from raw sewage releases to accidental oil releases from power plants. Check out our recent article on the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which sits on the banks of the estuary.

The progression of climate change will also impact the estuary and the wildlife it supports.

To that end, the state DEC has just announced the release of $770,000 in funding for communities in the Hudson River Estuary. The funding will help these communities design and plan projects that will improve water quality, increase flood resiliency, and conserve natural resources throughout the estuary.

For example, the city of Kingston is to receive $22,000 so it can develop a natural resources inventory that will “identify areas to protect, including water resources, habitats, wildlife and natural areas important for climate resilience.”

eastern bluebird
The Eastern Bluebird, which nests close to the Hudson River Estuary during the summer. After diminishing in number, the Eastern Bluebird has been making a comeback in recent years.

Funding for the projects comes from the NYS Environmental Protection Fund, a “pay-as-you-go” source of capital funding which is replenished by proceeds from the Real Estate Transfer Tax, along with other state revenue streams, like the Bottle Bill.

The Environmental Protection Fund has been a source of controversy because it is periodically raided. Since its establishment in 1993, almost $1 billion has been “swept” from the Environmental Protection Fund to the state’s General Fund for budget relief.

An estuary with an agenda

The 18 projects that will receive funding are part of the Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda, which is being implemented over a five year period by the DEC, in partnership with other state agencies and the federal government.

The Action Agenda has six goals for the estuary:

  1. Clean water;
  2. Climate Resilient communities;
  3. A vital estuarine ecosystem;
  4. Conservation of fish, wildlife, and habitats;
  5. Preservation of the river’s natural scenery; and
  6. Enhanced opportunities for education, river access, recreation and inspiration.

Support at the community level is critical to the success of the Action Agenda, says the state.

weekend fish count
Residents help to conduct a fish count in the Hudson River. Credit: New City Patch

Dedicated citizens, along with local municipalities, non-profit groups, academic and scientific institutions, businesses, trade organizations, conservation groups, and landowners are key partners in the effort to keep the estuary healthy for generations to come.

Take a look at the projects that will receive funding………..

Hudson River Shoreline Flooding Plans

City of Kingston, $49,684 to convene a Sea Level Rise Implementation Learning Group to collaborate on implementing key actions of the Flooding Task Forces in the village of Piermont, village of Catskill, city of Kingston and the town of Stony Point.

Village of Catskill, $25,500 for a Hudson River Shoreline Flooding Plan including an analysis of potential changes to the village’s local zoning code to address resiliency issues.

The Nature Conservancy, $50,000 to continue a project to assist local communities to participate in the Hudson River Comprehensive Restoration Plan (HRCRP) process in the Hudson River Restoration Study Area from the Troy dam to the Piermont Marsh.

Flood Adaptation Planning for Water and WasteWater Infrastructure

Village of Catskill, $42,500 to complete a Risk and Engineering Review of the village of Catskill Wastewater System, and to implement recommendations from “Resilient Catskill Report of the Catskill Waterfront Resilience Task Force.”

Green Infrastructure Planning

Albany Water Board (City of Albany Department of Water and Sewer), $50,000 for an Albany Pool Communities Feasibility Assessment for a Green Infrastructure Banking System. This project will create a tool box of options that one or more communities can rely on to encourage and promote the development of green infrastructure.

City of Yonkers, $50,000 to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the storm water system and green infrastructure strategies to reduce the burden on the system.

Siena College, $25,277 complete a green infrastructure planning report for the Patroon Creek Watershed.

Watershed Stewardship Planning

Orange County Water Authority, $50,081 to develop a watershed management plan for the Monhagen Brook Watershed.

Riverkeeper, $49,999, to update two watershed management plans for the Wallkill River and the Rondout Creek.

Bard College, $44,779 to support the development of a science-based community stewardship Saw Kill Watershed Community Group focused on the management of the SawKill Watershed.

Hudson Valley Regional Council, $50,000 to develop regionally applicable educational materials, guidance documents and fact sheets about the legal, regulatory and policy issues pertaining to drinking water source protection, stormwater management, the maintenance and restoration of streams and riparian buffer protection and restoration.

Stream Restoration and Resiliency Planning

Ulster County, $47,000 to develop a comprehensive culvert assessment that includes a GIS/modeling analysis and a field assessment and prioritization report for the county.

Town of New Castle, $50,000 to produce the information needed to undertake removal of the Upper Minkel Pond Dam and restore the natural stream channel and surrounding wetland.

Hudson River Shoreline Stabilization Plans

Village of Hastings-on-Hudson, $41,650 to implement a Hudson River Shoreline Stabilization Plan to address ongoing erosion issues at a site on the outer bend of the Hudson River.

New York Restoration Project, $50,000 to develop a shoreline plan to guide the ongoing reclamation work at Sherman Creek Park.

Natural Resources Inventory and Planning

City of Kingston, $22,000 to develop a natural resources inventory that will identify areas to protect, including water resources, habitats, wildlife and natural areas important for climate resilience.

Town of Rochester, $50,000 to assist the Towns of Rochester and Wawarsing to connect ecological and recreational assets for an open space plan.

Town of New Lebanon, $21,520 to develop a Natural Resources Conservation Plan with information from the New Lebanon Comprehensive Plan, Open Space Inventory and Estuary Program Habitat Summary.