Grants Protect Water Quality, Increase Storm Resiliency, and Improve Hudson River Access and Recreation
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced $1,137,113 in funding for 19 projects to help communities in the Hudson River Estuary protect water quality and habitats, conserve open space, increase storm resiliency, and improve recreational access to the river for people with disabilities. The grants were announced in conjunction with DEC's 15th annual "Day in the Life of the Hudson and Harbor" event, which helps elementary through college-age students become scientists for a day by studying the Hudson River Estuary.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Partnering with local communities, environmental groups and civic organizations, New York has significantly improved the environmental and economic health of the Hudson River. Governor Cuomo has made record investments to protect the river, create new and expanded access to recreation, and improve community resiliency in cities, towns, and villages from Manhattan to Plattsburgh."
Funding for the new projects is provided by the State's Environmental Protection Fund and is administered under the DEC 2017 Hudson River Estuary Grants Program. In partnership with the New England Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC), DEC is also funding two projects totaling $178,722 to improve water quality and natural resources in the estuary.
To date, the estuary program has awarded 495 grants totaling $19.4 million for projects that implement priorities outlined in DEC's Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda.
Hudson River Estuary Grants ($658,391 total) have been awarded to:
City of Kingston (Ulster) - $45,820
The city of Kingston will improve access for people of all abilities to swimming, fishing, and environmental education programs at Kingston Point Beach in Kingston Point Park. Plans include new signage and posts for accessible parking spaces; a removable beach access route to the water's edge; beach wheelchairs; upgrades for accessible toilet rooms; and retrofits to an existing changing room stall.
Seaport Museum New York (New York) - $50,000
Seaport Museum New York will make improvements to provide safer access by the blind and visually impaired to Pier 16 and the historic educational vessel, Pioneer, used as a floating classroom. Tactile interpretive signage, maps and multi-language tactile guidebooks will enhance programs about the ecology, natural history, and water quality of the Hudson River Estuary.
Natural Resource Inventories
Upper Hudson Northern Catskill Natural Resource Trust (Greene) - $35,080
Upper Hudson Northern Catskill Natural Resource Trust will work with Hudsonia and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene counties to complete a Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) for Greene County to guide conservation work county-wide. The NRI will help prioritize projects that will most benefit the protection of sensitive habitats, increase resilience, and improve the overall health of the watershed within Greene County.
Hudson Highlands Land Trust, Inc. (Orange) - $49,348
Hudson Highlands Land Trust will partner with Orange County Land Trust to assist the towns of Blooming Grove and Cornwall and the village of Cornwall-on-Hudson in creating Open Space Inventories (OSIs) for each municipality. The OSIs will feature maps of open spaces important to protect in each community for and include explanations of the significance of each area. The OSIs will help address development pressures and source water demands locally and across municipal borders.
Town of Hillsdale (Columbia) - $24,160
The town of Hillsdale will work with a consultant to create a NRI for the town. The NRI will be designed for use by the Planning Board, Town Board, Conservation Advisory Council, and other town entities to inform land use planning, policy-making, environmental reviews, and decision-making. The NRI will also be useful to landowners, residents, developers, and others seeking to understand the natural landscapes of Hillsdale.
City Parks Foundation (Richmond) - $50,000
City Parks Foundation and the Natural Areas Conservancy (NAC) will create a NRI to support conservation and data-driven resource management of Staten Island's North Shore. The NRI will include 132 acres of natural area, and will identify opportunities for conservation and stewardship of wetland and upland forest habitat. This data will help resource managers at the Natural Areas Conservancy and New York City Parks to advocate for conservation of natural resources and help landscape designers to design recreational spaces that are sensitive to, and compatible with, the condition of the natural areas.
Climate Resiliency Plans
The Nature Conservancy (Multiple) - $49,206
The Nature Conservancy will work closely with the Hudson River Watershed Alliance, DEC, and Scenic Hudson to engage up to 10 communities along the Hudson River and/or its tributaries in community climate risk assessments. The Community Resilience Building framework will guide community-selected staff, volunteer committee members, and local leaders in assessing the community's resilience to climate change. The conservancy will customize one-day workshops to help communities recognize their areas of risk and vulnerabilities and identify risk-reduction activities.
Orange County Water Authority (Orange) - $29,079
Orange County Water Authority will renovate a stream monitoring network on the Moodna Creek, including installation of five new monitoring locations and upgrades to one existing station. The network will build on previously collected data and will measure salinity, temperature, and water depth. The data collected will help to better understand flow levels in the headwaters of the creek and will be used to study flooding in the watershed.
Pace University (Ulster & Orange) - $27,541
In collaboration with the Wallkill River Watershed Alliance, Pace University will implement a community-based Land Use Leadership Alliance (LULA) training program for communities lying within the New York State portion of the Wallkill watershed. The LULA program will provide policy, planning, and regulatory tools to land-use leaders. The training combines lectures, case studies, and interactive sessions in which participants learn about local environmental laws, resiliency in planning, inter-municipal approaches to watershed protection, and how to cultivate public participation and build consensus.
Village of Ravena (Albany) - $40,000
The village of Ravena will investigate the use of nature-based features (green infrastructure) to reduce the flow of stormwater entering the sanitary system. A consultant will assess municipally owned facilities and identify the best locations for the use of nature-based features manage stormwater and reduce flooding events.
City of Middletown (Orange) - $50,000
The city of Middletown will work with a consultant to produce a Source Water Protection Plan that will provide a framework to ensure safe drinking water for the city of Middletown. Management strategies will be developed through a risk/benefit assessment, which will identify areas of concern and a preliminary list of Best Management Practices. An implementation plan will identify short-term and long-term projects for the city to consider for the protection of its source water.
Trout Unlimited, Inc. (Columbia) - $37,606
Trout Unlimited, Inc. will develop the Town of Ancram Road Stream Crossing Replacement Plan (RSCRP), which will serve as a guide for future culvert replacements that reconnect high-quality aquatic habitat, and improve flood resiliency and road infrastructure. The project will complete a list of priority places where roads cross stream, and will produce designs for two to three priority replacement structures. The road-stream crossing plan will be included in the town's Comprehensive Plan.
Bard College (Dutchess) - $48,720
Bard College will work with the Saw Kill Watershed Community (SKWC) to improve understanding about connections between land-use and stream/watershed conditions. SKWC will develop and implement long-term planning to help preserve the watershed and reduce threats and will expand regionally by reaching out to neighboring watershed community groups.
Groundwork Hudson Valley (Westchester) - $48,768
Groundwork Hudson Valley and the Center for the Urban River at Beczak (CURB) will re-energize the Saw Mill River Coalition as a watershed alliance, promoting municipal and community partnerships and renewing restoration goals. The project will catalog current information about the Saw Mill River and compile it in a "state-of-the-watershed" report. Communities will review the report and set new goals that incorporate climate resiliency, smart growth, and environmental justice. A 5-year Action Plan will be produced that establishes implementation steps for key partners.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties (Columbia & Greene) - $23,063
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties will develop a Watershed Management Plan for the Catskill Creek watershed engaging and educating stakeholders, including municipalities, organizations and community members. The plan will provide guidelines for decisions about future watershed projects, and will address protecting high-quality streams, improving water quality, increasing flood resiliency and restoring habitat. The watershed plan also will prioritize sites for stream buffer protection or restoration, and provide data to determine quantities of water needed for stream habitat and water supplies.
Hudson River Watershed Alliance (Multiple) - $50,000
The Hudson River Watershed Alliance (HRWA) will build the capacity, effectiveness, and sustainability of watershed groups and regional watershed protection efforts in the Hudson River Watershed. The alliance will conduct a needs assessment, prepare guidance materials, and implement a coordinated communications and marketing strategy. The HRWA will help form a network of local and regional watershed groups and alliances to more effectively protect streams and tributaries, watersheds, and water resources in the region.
In addition to these grants, DEC is funding the following education project:
Hudson River Park Trust, Pier 26, New York (New York) - $300,000
The Hudson River Estuary Program has awarded a contract to Hudson River Park Trust to work with an aquarium design expert to create and construct compelling exhibits that showcase numerous species of fish, crustaceans and invertebrates of the Hudson River Estuary in a planned Estuarium. The aquaria will exhibit live animals from the under-pier waters surrounding Pier 26, which is part of the 400-acre Hudson River estuarine sanctuary designated by New York State in 1998. The facility will include space for public programming and school visits as well as docking space for partner research vessels.
In partnership with the New England Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) DEC's Hudson River Estuary Program is also funding two projects totaling $178,722 to improve water quality and natural resources in the estuary.
The NEIWPCC partnership projects include:
Gomez and Sullivan Engineers, Preliminary Design of a Sustainable Shoreline at Hudson Shores Park in the City of Watervliet, NY (Albany) - $75,000
Gomez and Sullivan will work with the city of Watervliet to design a nature-based shoreline treatment for Hudson Shores Park that resists erosion and adapts to rising sea-levels, enhances access for people of all abilities, and improves natural habitat for native plants, fish and wildlife.
O'Brien & Gere Engineers, Hydrodynamic and Sediment Transport Study of Existing Conditions and Restoration Alternatives at Rattlesnake Island and Coxsackie Cove, Greene County, NY- $103,722
O'Brien & Gere will model the impacts of dike modifications on the habitat and physical conditions of Coxsackie Cove. The partially breeched dike extends from the western shore of the Hudson River to the northern tip of Rattlesnake Island. The study area is approximately 570 acres and includes the backwater coves between Rattlesnake and Coxsackie Islands and the western shore of the river and the main navigation channel. Restoration of shallow water habitats (vegetated main channel fringe areas, secondary channels, and backwaters) may assist with the recovery of American shad and river herring populations, as well as benefit species that spawn and forage in shallow water.
Senator Tom O'Mara, Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said, "New York State's ongoing investment in water quality and restoration projects in communities statewide will make a great difference for future generations. This latest round of funding focuses on one of the state's most important and iconic waterways and community corridors, the Hudson River Estuary. I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Cuomo and all of my legislative colleagues to help secure a stronger environmental future in every region of the state."
Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation, said, "These Hudson River Estuary grants will support a broad range of water quality, aquatic ecosystem and watershed resiliency, and public access initiatives. New York State's investment in local projects will have positive returns on water quality and estuarine habitat improvement as well as creating more sustainable, nature-connected communities all along the Hudson River."
Susan Sullivan, NEIWPCC Executive Director, said, "NEIWPCC is pleased to be able to help improve and restore habitat for native aquatic life in the Hudson estuary through these projects."
Now in its 15th year, the Hudson River Estuary grants program implements priorities outlined in DEC's Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda: clean water; resilient communities; a vital estuary ecosystem; estuary fish, wildlife and habitats; natural scenery; and education, river access, recreation, and inspiration. To view the Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda and for complete details about the new grant funding, visit DEC's website.