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Hudson River Estuary Program

Helping people enjoy, protect & revitalize the Hudson River & its valley

View of Newburgh Bay from Storm King Mountain on a sunny summer day
View of Newburgh Bay from Storm King Mountain. Photo by S. Stanne

What is the Hudson River Estuary Program?

The Estuary Program protects and improves the natural and scenic Hudson River watershed for all its residents. The program was created in 1987; its work focuses on the tidal Hudson and its adjacent watershed from the federal dam at Troy to upper New York harbor (see map of Hudson River Estuary Program Boundary (PDF), (489 kB). Its core mission is to:

Hudson River Estuary logo of a sturgeon
  • Ensure clean water
  • Protect and restore fish, wildlife and their habitats
  • Provide water recreation and river access
  • Adapt to climate change
  • Conserve the world famous scenery

How does the program work?

The program is guided by an Action Agenda-a forward-looking plan, developed through significant community participation up and down the river. The Hudson River Estuary Program achieves real progress through extensive outreach, coordination with state and federal agencies and public-private partnerships. This collaborative approach includes:

  • Grants and restoration projects
  • Education, research and training
  • Natural resource conservation and protection
  • Community planning assistance

Built on sound science and principles of ecosystem-based management, the program is steered by the Hudson River Estuary Management Advisory Committee, which includes representatives of the commercial fishing industry, recreational anglers, utility companies, local government, educators, researchers, conservationists and other river users helps engage many representatives of the public in working together toward common goals.

What are some of the program's accomplishments?

A tidal marsh along the Hudson River

With projects that help manage and restore key species like striped bass and bald eagles, Estuary Grants have allowed counties, towns and villages in the Hudson River Valley to take ownership of their resources and define the future of their communities while contributing to the overall health and beauty of the region. Cooperation with partners such as the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve is key to the Hudson River Estuary Program's success, which includes noteworthy achievements like the following:

  • Dramatically improved water quality in the Hudson River Estuary;
  • Awarded more than 300 grants to local municipalities and non-profits for education, open space, conservation and river access;
  • Protected more than 46,000 acres of scenic vistas, habitats, and pastoral landscapes
  • Restored fish populations, which drive $7.5 million in recreation and tourism expenditures;
  • Provided river education to school children (5,000 annually), trained teachers and developed estuary focused curriculum;
  • Trained more than 3,000 community leaders to achieve local conservation and land use goals;
  • Revitalized community waterfronts and enhanced parks, docks, piers, trails and boat launches in nearly every shoreline community;
  • Installed monitoring equipment that reports around-the-clock river conditions from Albany to New York Harbor to provide more accurate forecasting of storms and pollution run-off;
  • Mapped the entire river bottom, and documented the region's global, regional and statewide significant plants and animals for the first time;
  • Planted more than 18,000 native trees and shrubs to improve water quality and reduce erosion;
  • Assisted communities that have taken the "Climate Smart" pledge to adopt emission reduction strategies and prepare for the effects of storms and flooding.

Many estuary projects were tied to the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's voyage of discovery and the commemoration of the 2009 Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial. The Program worked diligently to expand opportunities for citizen connection to the river through boat launches and preserving open space linked to river scenery. Details of these and other achievements can be found in our Hudson River Estuary Progress Reports.

Resources for the Public:

Available resources from the Estuary Program include educational materials, presentations, trainings, maps, planning guidance and links to further information. Click on the names of the topics below to explore the available resources or contact us at hrep@dec.ny.gov.

Students holding a blue crab
  • Grants: Funding for municipalities and not-for-profits to complete projects that carry out the Action Agenda goals for restoring the Hudson and the human uses it supports.
  • Education: Resources for educators, students and families to learn about the Hudson, including outdoor programs, lesson plans, posters, education centers, exhibits, interpretive signs, and descriptions of key river issues.
  • Watersheds and streams: Information on conservation issues and guidance on practices that protect water resources.
  • Plants, animals, habitats of the river basin: Information about the Hudson Valley's unique biodiversity and conservation resources for land managers, landowners, planners, and policy makers.
  • River Access and Recreation: Where to go, what to do and what the Estuary Program is doing to make the Hudson River more accessible.
  • Climate Change: Efforts to develop a regional strategy to respond to climate change in the Hudson Valley

Background on the Hudson River Estuary Program:

During the 1960s and 70s, public concern for the protection of the Hudson's fisheries led to the passage of the 1979 Hudson River Fisheries Management Act. In 1987, recognizing that conservation of the river's fish, habitats and ecosystem requires a broader, multi-disciplinary approach, the fisheries law was replaced by the Hudson River Estuary Management Act, found in Section 11-0306 of the New York State Environmental Conservation Law. This act directed DEC to develop a plan and program for the conservation of the estuary-the tidal portion of the river from the Troy dam south to the Verrazano Narrows-- and its associated shorelands.

Links to other Hudson River Estuary Program pages:


More about Hudson River Estuary Program: