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Access to the Hudson River Estuary

Kayakers getting into the HudsonEncouraging Hudson Valley residents to experience and explore the Hudson River whether by foot, on a boat, catching fish, or getting wet is a primary goal of the Hudson River Estuary Program's River Access Project. The Estuary Program works with state and federal agencies, nonprofits, and municipal partners to create and upgrade shoreline access opportunities in Hudson River communities.

There are often barriers to creating and improving river access. Historically, railroads have impeded access on the eastern shore of the Hudson from New York City to Rensselaer and on the west shore from Haverstraw to the Town of Esopus in Ulster County. Physical impediments such as steep shoreline slopes or shallow inlets limit access in many places and sensitive ecosystems like submerged aquatic vegetation or critical habitat for endangered species restrict public access in other areas. Private land ownership also limits opportunities for public access to the estuary.

A dock providing access to the HudsonIn spite of these obstacles, the Estuary Program has spent or committed nearly $10 million on river access since 1996 including funding for fishing, swimming and boating access. Funding for the Estuary Program's access initiatives is available through the annual $1 million Estuary Grants program which provides direct assistance to local not-for-profits and municipalities.

New York State has also introduced two major access initiatives through the Estuary Program. In 1999, the Governor's Task Force on Hudson River Access, established nine potential access sites over Metro-North Railroad tracks in New York City, Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties. These sites offer unique opportunities for developing new or improved access on the Hudson. They are located where land on the river side of the railroad tracks is available and access is compatible with environmental conditions. In 2001, the State announced a $1 million grant to the Hudson River Valley Greenway to establish a Hudson River Water Trail stretching from Battery Park in the Village of Waterford, Saratoga County, to Battery Park in Manhattan to highlight access points on the Hudson. The Estuary Program has partnered with the Greenway to highlight these and other Hudson Valley attractions by hosting the Hudson River Valley Ramble and the Great Hudson River Paddle.

Boating Access

The Estuary Program has funded 23 new car top or hand launches for canoes and kayaks (14 in NYC including Inwood Park and Governor's Island, Newburgh, Cold Spring, Cortlandt, Glasco, Piermont, Yonkers, Irvington, Esopus Meadows), 3 new trailered launches (Bethlehem, Schodack State Park, Haverstraw), and 6 upgrades to existing trailered launches (Newburgh, Peekskill, Mills-Norrie State Park, Athens, Rhinebeck and Coxsackie). All have been built. Additional renovated and new trailered launch sites are in the planning or design stage (Catskill, Beacon and Troy).

Recreational Fishing Access

Three new fishing piers have been constructed and 4 others are in the planning, design or construction phases. Existing public fishing sites have been mapped in DEC regions 1, 2, 3 and 4. More than 90 sites are listed between Westchester/Rockland and Troy. Maps of these site locations and supporting information is now available in the Hudson River Estuary Public Fishing and Boating Access Maps. Please note: The Public Fishing and Boating Access Map Project was completed in 2007. Since that time, site conditions may have changed. The International Symbol of Accessibility indicates the existence of one or more accessible elements but is not an indication of complete site accessibility. Please contact the site manager for accessibility details. Contact phone numbers are listed on the map information pages.

Swimming Access

Swimmers at Croton Point ParkA report titled "Swimming in the Hudson River Estuary, Feasibility Report on Potential Sites" was issued in June, 2005. The study examines the status of existing beaches and identifies places on the river where swimming could potentially take place in the future. In locations where beaches are not physically possible, the study examines opportunities to create alternative swimming facilities. An executive summary and the full report in pdf format are available at: "Swimming in the Hudson River Estuary".

Available Publications

As water quality continues to improve, interest in recreational use of the Hudson River increases. The Estuary Program and its partners continue to evaluate needs and opportunities for boating access in the Hudson and balance them with the needs of the plants and animals of the Hudson River. In addition, community outreach programs and publications promoting environmental awareness and water safety have been designed to accompany this increased public use.

Hudson River Estuary Public Fishing and Boating Access Maps: More than 90 Hudson River sites are displayed on 19 clickable maps that link to detailed information about each location including driving directions, hours of operation, accessibility, available facilities and contact numbers. The maps can be viewed on a computer screen or easily printed out to carry with you when you visit the river. The maps are currently available on a CD or in a downloadable pdf.

Hudson River Watertrail Guide Covers the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area from the Erie Canal, north of Albany, to the New York City line, plus the New York City and New Jersey sections of the lower river. It contains 160 pages of charts, illustrations, and site listings to help boaters get the most out of a day on the river. Please use the Links Leaving DEC's Website on the right side of this page to find more information.

Hudson River Valley Ramble Brochure The annual "River Ramble," which takes place every September during National Estuaries Week, offers opportunities for over 150 guided outdoor experiences in the Hudson Valley. Brochures, available year-round, are a great source of information on where to go to hike, bike, boat, fish, and learn about the Hudson River Valley. The Ramble is sponsored by the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area, the Hudson River Valley Greenway, and the Hudson River Estuary Program. Please use the Links Leaving DEC's Website on the right side of this page to find more information.

Hudson River Pumpout Locations The 2003 Clean Vessel Act was created to eliminate water pollution caused by overboard sewage discharge from recreational boats. As a result of this Act, New York waters, including the entire Hudson River Estuary from the Battery in Manhattan to the Troy Dam, are now a "No Discharge Zone." This site provides locations of pumpout facilities in New York waters including the entire Hudson River. Please use the Links Leaving DEC's Website on the right side of this page to find more information.

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