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November 13, 2013 - Hudson River Estuary Management Advisory Committee Meeting

The Hudson River Estuary Advisory Committee met on November 13, 2013 at the Norrie Point Environmental Center, Staatsburg, NY. Fifty six (56) people attended. Agenda topics addressed during the meeting included: a report on Asian carp, a presentation by Dr. Shorna Broussard Allred, "An evaluation framework to assess the impact of the Biodiversity Outreach and Technical Assistance Program", committee working group reports on: Natural infrastructure and climate change, Restoration and resiliency opportunities, and ADA access projects, as well as a continuing discussion of the next steps in the development of the Action Agenda 2015-2020.

Strategic Plan Draft Core Idea Concept

The Estuary Program's core mission would be organized around benefits/outcomes:

Ensure clean water:

  • The river is swimmable (pathogens are reduced, access is available)
  • Sources of water are adequate/abundant (sufficient groundwater, surface water to meet needs)

Protect and restore fish and wildlife habitats

  • Commercial and sport fisheries are restored and are sustainable
  • habitats which support commerce and recreational uses are restored

Provide recreation, education and river access

  • Diverse opportunities for education, recreation and inspiration are enhanced

Adapt to climate change

  • Resilient communities are able to adapt to climate change (flooding, drought, sea level rise danger is reduced through planning & climate smart adaptation strategies)
  • Natural resources & processes are sustained as part of a regional adaptation strategy

Conserve the scenic landscape

  • World famous scenic vistas are protected (land acquisition)

Sustain a vital ecosystem:

  • Forest, wetlands & streams support a healthy estuary
  • Estuary habitats, food webs and natural processes are restored or sustained

The Estuary program delivers this mission by:

convening partners, raising awareness, building capacity, improving scientific understanding, promoting innovation, taking effective action, measuring progress and adjusting as needed. It:

  • Convenes regional leaders to define the long- term outcomes we aim to achieve in each of the six areas above, in ways which will sustain the key human, economic and ecological benefits the river provides.
  • Develops effective strategies to attain these outcomes, consistent with our governmental role, and serves as a catalyst for innovation
  • Organizes and sustains key community and agency partnerships to embrace and drive the agenda, so that the outcomes are achieved through collaboration and participation of an ever-expanding network of people.
  • Provides technical assistance, scientific information, training, grants and contracts, so that partners are better able to become participants in attaining these goals and makes information more accessible to the public and key stakeholders.
  • Actively conserves natural resources through site-specific restoration and stewardship projects
  • Fills gaps in the information or level of understanding needed to effectively attain these goals by monitoring vital signs and conducting and supporting critical research throughout the watershed to better understand problems and solutions to sustain a vital ecosystem and its human benefits.
  • Measures progress, and adapts as needed, so that outcomes are achieved as efficiently as possible.

How we would define our unique role:

The Estuary Program both

  1. convenes and organizes stakeholders to implement the Action Agenda and
  2. carries out key program that directly meet the Action Agenda objectives

The program has a budget line item that supports our work, and we also leverage the resources of partners.

For purposes of defining where the Estuary Program will put its staff and resources, we need to define the role we serve best. To a certain extent that may vary with the benefit we seek to provide.

Our own budget now supports the following investments:

contracted staff to support each of the 6 benefits, with positions defined by project need

  • research provided through our relationship with Cornell
  • direct monitoring of environmental conditions and tracking of progress in meeting objectives
  • education in schools and citizen stewardship projects
  • grants and contracts to build the capacity of local partners to achieve the goals
  • modest investments in infrastructure (water quality, access)
  • pilot projects to demonstrate new ways of meeting objectives
  • plans, designs and feasibility studies which enable larger projects to be funded by others
  • provides policy analysis

For the next Action Agenda,

For each of the benefits we provide, we would assess what role we would directly play and what roles we would seek to achieve through collaboration and partnership, to provide the highest return for our investment.