Lower Hudson Long Island Bays and Atlantic Ocean Watershed Basins
Description of the Basins
The Lower Hudson, Long Island Bays and Atlantic Ocean watershed basins of southeastern New York State cover 1.7 million acres of land with an additional 1.5 million acres of open water. Geographically speaking the basins reach from Bear Mountain across the Hudson were it turns north along the Connecticut and Rhode Island borders and spans east to Montauk and Fisher's Island (see map). Included within the basins are 3 of 28 Estuaries of National Significance including the Hudson River Estuary, the Peconic Estuary and of course Long Island Sound which all lend to the unique character of this region.
Influenced by northern and southern weather patterns, the dynamic water chemistry of the estuaries, and the currents and tidal pull of the ocean we find many species within this area that are at the edge of their range or utilize the area seasonally. These are also the same reasons why these basins are some of the most diverse ecosystems in the state. The 267 Species of Greatest Conservation Need identified in the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy (CWCS) that inhabit these basins during some point in their lives account for 49.7% of all SGCN statewide.
SWG Projects in the Basins
FFY 2006 Projects
Banded Sunfish and Swamp Darter Recovery Plan
Both the Banded sunfish and Swamp darter have extremely limited distribution throughout the watershed basins. The Banded sunfish is known to exist in the Passaic drainage in Orange and Rockland counties and in only 17 water bodies in the Peconic drainage. The Swamp darter is even more restricted and is only known to occur in a few ponds in the Peconic system. The recovery plan scheduled to begin during the summer of 2008 will provide information on the current distribution, habitat requirements, water quality and hydrologic conditions of extant populations in New York State. Additionally, restoration recommendations concerning invasive species, predatory and competitive species and re-connection of isolated populations will be provided. The recovery plan is scheduled to be completed by early 2010.
Black Skimmer Recovery Plan
The Black skimmer is a seasonal migratory species that utilizes New York's shorelines and beaches for nesting. Pressured by the loss of available habitat due to the extensive development of Long Island and New York City this species is struggling to maintain its current population. The recovery plan will outline the necessary steps to protect and conserve the valuable nesting habitat and provide threshold targets to ensure a self-sustaining population. The plan is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2009.
Peconic River Fish Passage
Taking place at the Upper Mills Dam on the Peconic River this project will open approximately 40 acres of spawning habitat for alewife and forage and rearing habitat for American eel. The replacement of the impassable culvert and construction of a fish passage is the second step in the barrier mitigation of the Peconic River which has six major dams. The first barrier at Grangebel Park is currently being updated with a permanent ramp and riffle structure. The stretch of river from Upper Mills to the the base of the Forge Road Dam (the third barrier on the Peconic) encompasses 1.5 miles. The Upper Mills Dam passage is scheduled to be completed by 2011.
Conservation Focus Maps
The conservation focus map project will utilize pre-existing GIS geodatabases from both within the DEC and collected from external partners. Spanning from the Federal Dam in Troy to the eastern most points of Long Island these maps will quantify and qualify the near shore habitat (salt marsh, submerged aquatic vegetation and the coastline)and benthic environment. These maps will highlight areas that deserve special attention due to the biodiversity, ecological services and/or intrinsic value of the area. Additionally, this project will identify any data gaps in the current cartographic information and outline the steps required to fill them. This project is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2009.
Barrier Mitigation in the Hudson River
This project will focus on two dams located along the Hudson River. The first is a Quassaick Creek Dam located approximately 1 mile upstream of the Hudson. During the spring of 2007 this dam partially breached. Remnants of the dam will be removed to restore natural riverine function and flow for the benefit of river herring and American eel. The second barrier is the Moodna Creek Dam which was also breached however water now flows around the impeding structure. This new channel has contributed to streambank erosion at the dam as well as downstream due to the change of water flow. Mitigation of this site will restore natural function and benefit several species of SGCN including Alewife, Blueback herring and Atlantic tomcod. This project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2009.
Comprehensive Wildlife Monitoring Program
This pilot project will test field survey techniques for sampling freshwater anurans, vernal pool salamanders, marsh breeding birds and tow species of turtle (the Spotted and Stinkpot) that are not normally surveyed. Coupled with analysis of changes in land cover derived from satellite imagery this project will identify the benefits and challenges of using survey indicators over large geographic areas. Methods tested under this pilot project will be used to develop statewide monitoring protocols. This is a two year project that will be completed in December 2010.
Northern Cricket Frog Upland Habitat Requirements
In an effort to better understand the wintering behavior of the species this project will focus on identifying Northern Cricket Frog habitat preference for overwintering. This survey will determine approximate distance traveled and describe habitat preference for wintering site selection. Data gathered during this survey will directly influence future regulatory decisions and will be incorporated into future recovery efforts. This is a two year project scheduled to be completed by Early 2011.
Juvenile Atlantic Sturgeon Trawl Survey
In an effort to reduce by-catch mortality this trawling survey will concentrate on the marine migrant stage of juvenile Atlantic sturgeon. Captured sturgeon will be equipped with a transmitter, tagged and released at the point of capture. Utilizing both active and passive monitoring techniques this study will provide valuable information on spatial and temporal patterns of juvenile Atlantic sturgeon including time spent in nurseries and rates of dispersal. A passive monitoring array will be located off Rockaway, NY and utilize 21 receivers to continually monitor 36 km2 of open water habitat. Active monitoring will be done using a hydrophone to cover the deeper and shallower waters of the survey. The multi-year project will begin in the fall of 2008 and continue until early 2013.
Migratory Shorebird Foraging and Horseshoe Crab Spawning Survey
This survey will document the interactions between foraging shorebirds (including Red knots, Ruddy turnstones, Semipalmated sandpipers and Sanderlings) and spawning Horseshoe crabs at two Long Island beaches. Focusing on the diversity, abundance and timing of shorebird foraging behavior in relation to the timing of Horseshoe crab spawning activity this study will establish monitoring protocols to better understand this important relationship. In addition, sediment cores will be taken to establish Horseshoe crab egg counts and determine the level of significance this food source provides for migrating birds. This is a three year project and is scheduled to be completed in late 2011.
FFY 2005 Projects
Prescribed Fire Regime in the Long Island Pine Barrens
In an effort to maintain early successional and open grassland habitats on Long Island, The Nature Conservancy hired additional Fire Crew staff to implement their prescribed fire treatments in the Long Island Pine Barrens. With the additional staff TNC's Fire Crew will restore up to 200 acres of fire dependant habitat at the NYS Sarnoff Preserve, Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge and TNC Mashomack Preserve during 2008. Fire restoration of this system will benefit a wide range of Species of Greatest Conservation Need including bird, lepidopteran and herptile taxonomic groups. In addition to the fire treatment, monitoring of moth populations will also occur. Prescribed fire plans will be completed by summer's end with final reports completed by December of 2008.
Lookout Hill Forest Restoration in Prospect Park
The Lookout Hill Habitat Restoration project will repair eroded slopes, remove invasive plants, and restore an understory of native trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants to the area. Planting native shrubs such as spice bush, chokeberry, and blackberry will restore an important level of vegetation to attract migratory birds for foraging and breeding. The invasive tree canopy will be thinned allowing more sunlight into the site, fostering the growth of a denser shrub layer beneficial to many forest bird species. The top of Lookout Hill includes a small (0.75 acre) meadow that will be improved to provide a diversity of insects in the area, thereby increasing the availability of food to insect-eating birds. This is a two year restoration project with final plantings scheduled for the spring of 2010.
Survey of Seasonal Use of NY Waters by Cetaceans
Ten Marine Autonomous Recording Units (MARUs) will be deployed throughout the NY Bight by Cornell University's Bioacoustic Research Program (BRP) with three located in the shipping lanes near NY Harbor. The other seven MARUs will be placed just south of Southampton and will extend to the edge of the continental shelf. The MARUs will provide passive monitoring throughout the year for seasonal occurrences of North Atlantic Right whales, Blue whales and Fin whales. The collected data analysis will directly influence future monitoring strategies to reduce mortality due to ship strikes and other anthropogenic causes. While this project is scheduled for completion by August 2009, if time permits the data will also be reviewed for Humpback whale presence.
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