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Climate Change Program for the Hudson River Estuary

People view climate adaptive design boards
Community stakeholders reviewing final Climate-Adaptive Design
(CAD) boards at Open House in the Village of Catskill (L. Zemaitis)

The Climate Change Program for the Hudson River Estuary helps communities to adapt to climate change and become more resilient to climate risks. On our page you can find:

Latest news for climate resiliency in the Estuary

Below are three short videos about adaptation actions for Climate Smart Communities are now available with English and Spanish subtitles.
  • Sustainable Shorelines highlights the shorelines of the Hudson River, imaginative shoreline-design projects in New York City, and how sustainable shorelines can help us achieve a more resilient future.
  • Sea-level Rise: Planning Coastal Development highlights how the City of Kingston and residents of the Village of Piermont are adapting to sea-level rise and coastal flooding.
  • Adapt: The Key to Climate Resilience highlights Climate Smart Communities (CSC) certification program's actions to develop climate adaptation strategies.

Financing Waterfront Resilience

The 2019 New York State grants have been announced! Please download our roundup of over $150M in funding assistance that can be used toward adapting Hudson River waterfronts to flooding, sea-level rise and other climate risks: 2019 Financing Waterfront Resilience Fact Sheet (PDF).

Climate-adaptive Design (CaD) Studio

The Estuary Program, Cornell University and our partners are bringing Climate-Adaptive Design (CaD) studios to flood-prone Hudson Riverfront communities. To learn more, please visit the CaD Program webpage in the right-hand column.

What is Climate Resilience?

Climate resilience means our ability to manage climate risks, respond productively as the climate changes and recover quickly from extreme events. For examples, please visit our page on Hudson River Climate Resilience Case Studies.

What are our Climate Risks in the Hudson River Estuary?

The primary climate risks identified for this region include increased frequency and severity of:

  • Flooding, which can impact our waterfront properties and infrastructure
  • Heat waves, which can impact human health and agriculture
  • Short-term drought, which can impact our food and water supply

Please download our climate fact sheet (PDF) for an overview of climate change in the Hudson Valley and what you can do to help. If you are a municipality, please download our more detailed climate summary for communities (PDF). You can also download our one-page overview of the latest climate projections for the Hudson Valley (PDF).

Assistance Available for Climate Resilience

A student stands near the river while measuring the effects of sea level rise.
High school students measure projected sea level rise at Marist
College (C. Bowser).

The Hudson River Estuary Program and our partners provide multiple opportunities for communities to receive assistance in improving their climate resilience by supporting our natural life support systems, like floodplains, forests and wetlands, in the valley. For example:

Is your community a Climate Smart Community?

You can check by visiting the List of Climate Smart Communities. If it is, you have access to valuable technical assistance and more opportunities to save money, reduce greenhouse gases, and become climate resilient. If not, your community can take the pledge and start taking action now. Climate Smart Communities now has a certification program to recognize climate leaders. The program's guidance outlines over 100 of the most important actions communities can take to become Climate Smart.

Grants Relating to Climate Resilience

To check for available funding, please see the DEC's grants page, the Estuary Program's grants page and the Estuary Program's main page for our latest RFPs. Sign up for our newsletter to receive alerts about the latest funding opportunities. You can download our fact sheet on 2019 Financing Waterfront Resilience Fact Sheet (PDF) for an overview of standard state and federal resources.

Watershed Resiliency Project: helping communities complete adaptation actions

Cornell Cooperative Extensions (CCEs) are working directly with municipalities to help them complete Adaptation Actions (chapter 7) from the Climate Smart Communities (CSC) certification program.

This year's work supports Columbia-Greene, Dutchess and Ulster CCEs and 13 municipal and county partners to complete 17 adaptation actions from the CSC certification program. Adaptation actions include culvert management plans, water infrastructure inventories, vulnerability assessments, residential flood guides and more. The project will additionally fund CCE to support five municipalities to achieve CSC certification. For events and more information on this project, please visit their website in the right hand column.

Green and Natural Infrastructure to Manage Stormwater

There are "green" alternatives to traditional "gray" infrastructure that are designed to mimic the natural processes that store and treat storm water runoff. Green stormwater infrastructure can help communities reduce water pollution and the effects of flooding under a changing climate. These systems provide a variety of benefits, including helping communities reduce energy use, improve air and water quality, increase property values, and provide wildlife habitat. Please visit our page on Green Infrastructure Examples for Stormwater Management in the Hudson Valley for more information. We are also working on a cost-benefit tool to allow decision makers to weigh the financial value of green infrastructure techniques, like permeable pavement. More details to come.

Creating a Natural Resources Inventory: A Guide for Communities in the Hudson River Estuary Watershed: A natural resources inventory (NRI) provides the foundation for comprehensive land-use planning that proactively considers a community's land and water resources and their relationship to climate resilience. This manual outlines how to inventory valuable natural and cultural assets and strategies for using an NRI in local land-use and conservation planning.

Natural and Nature-based Solutions to Manage Shoreline Erosion and Flooding

Green infrastructure can also be applied to shorelines to reduce erosion and flooding. The Estuary Program, with the help of our partners, have released a Coastal Green Infrastructure Research Plan for New York City and the Great Kills Harbor Breakwater Study for Staten Island.The Hudson River Sustainable Shorelines project provides case studies to document the use and benefits of ecologically-enhanced shorelines. Please click the link "Hudson River Sustainable Shorelines" found on the right.

Trees for Tribs to Restore Stream Buffers

Our Trees for Tribs program assists property owners in planting native trees, shrubs and grasses along Hudson River tributaries. This creates a stream buffer that can reduce flooding and improve water quality and wildlife habitat, ultimately helping us to maintain a healthy more climate-resilient watershed.

Right-sizing Culverts

Many culverts in New York do not have the capacity to pass the amount of water that flows through them from streams during large storms, and some are too small for the stream flow from average-size rainstorms. These undersized culverts may fail, exacerbating local flooding and increasing infrastructure costs. The Estuary Program works with municipalities to identify and prioritize undersized culverts to help them invest in infrastructure in the most important areas. This not only benefits the municipalities' bottom line, but it also improves safety during large storms. For more information please visit the Aquatic Connectivity and Barrier Removal page on our website.

What have other Communities done to become more Climate Resilient?

students around a map of the Hudson River Estuary's watershed
Cornell research students studying a map of the estuary at
Piermont Pier (E. Murphy)

For examples, please visit our page on Hudson River Climate Resilience Case Studies.

Also, view our Climate Smart Webinar on Adaptation Planning: Kingston Tidal Waterfront Flooding Task Force from January 9, 2014.

How can I stay up-to-date with Climate Resilience in the Estuary?

Sign up for our newsletter: Climate Resilience in the Hudson River Estuary!

For Further Assistance:

The Hudson River Estuary Program provides assistance to communities and individuals in climate resilience. Contact our Climate Program at (845) 256-3153 or email us.

More about Climate Change Program for the Hudson River Estuary: