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RiverNet Issue #1 - Fall 2011

banner for RiverNet with a composition of 5 photos of Hudson River scenery and activities
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation - Hudson River Estuary Program

Hudson River Estuary and Watershed News

Welcome to RiverNet, the e-newsletter of the Hudson River Estuary Program, which covers our projects, events and actions related to the Hudson and its watershed. The launch of RiverNet marks the 15th anniversary of the first Estuary Action Agenda, which created a framework for collaboration on shared goals. Read RiverNet to stay connected to our progress. Please email RiverNet editor Candi Sterling with your feedback and suggestions for future issues!

In This Issue:

Reflections:

Commentary by Estuary Coordinator Fran Dunwell

On a warm evening in August, I paddled along the Hudson's sandy shoreline at Kowawese Park in New Windsor. Two large poplar trees brought back a flood of memories. Giant shoreline trees like these inspired the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to buy this park land 15 years ago as potential habitat for bald eagles.

The long sandy shoreline and peninsula jutting into the river just beyond the railroad tracks made it perfect for public access to the river. Such shoreline sites beyond the railroad tracks are few and far between along this stretch of river. As predicted, both eagles and people came to enjoy this site once it was permanently protected through a partnership between NYSDEC and Orange County.

That evening I looked up into the poplars to scan for birds but saw none. Then, dropping my eyes to the water, there it was - a magnificent bald eagle not 50 feet away on a mudflat. As I paddled back to shore, I watched a handful of kids merrily playing in the shallow water. These are the joys of the Hudson. When a vision like this becomes a reality, we can celebrate our connection with nature and enjoy the fellowship of people who answer the River's call.

Mother Nature Speaks

Hurricane Irene Brings the Hudson to Flood Stage and Devastates Floodplain Communities

Irene's calamitous effects provided a graphic lesson on the meaning of "watershed" as the Hudson Valley grappled with the aftermath. Instruments operated by the Hudson River Environmental Conditions Observing System [HRECOS] and U.S. Geological Survey [USGS] accumulated data showing Irene's physical impacts on the estuary, while observers recorded unusual sightings of white-tailed tropicbirds and other oceanic species blown northward and inland to the Hudson by the storm.

The playground at Poughkeepsie's Waryas Park became a water park when storm surge, riding on top of a high tide, flooded low-lying riverfronts. At Albany, the high tide peaked just over flood stage at 11 feet above sea level in late afternoon on Sunday, August 28, 2011. As the tide started down, the river level fell only to about 10.5 feet before runoff sent it up again, cresting at 15.4 feet the next day.

Waryas Park, Poughkeepsie being flooded
Waryas Park, Poughkeepsie near the Walkway
over the Hudson

Irene's deluge provided an exception to the rule that flood water runoff rarely raises the river above sea level further south than Catskill [HRM 112]; even after the storm surge subsided, river levels were well above average at least as far south as West Point [HRM 52]. The salt front retreated before the onslaught.

At Piermont [HRM 25] and the George Washington Bridge [HRM 10], the salty influence of sea water was swept away by the end of Tuesday, August 30 while at Castle Point, Hoboken [HRM 4], there was a just a whisper of saltiness near the end of each incoming (flood) current in the tidal cycle. Before and after images collected by NASA dramatically show the sediment and mud flowing down the river after the storm. To view these images visit http://1.usa.gov/ns6rem .

Earthquake Rocks the Valley

On Tuesday, August 23, 2011, Hudson Valley residents were reminded that earthquakes can happen here too. The 5.8 earthquake was the strongest in the northeast in 67 years. A contributor to NYSDEC's Hudson River Almanac described her experience.

Current Tidings: New Policies, Permits, Grants and More

New Striped Bass Fishing Legislation Approved

A new law extends a 1970s ban on taking striped bass for commercial purposes on the Hudson River between the George Washington Bridge and the Federal dam in Troy. The law sunsets on April 1, 2015. See striped bass legislation press release at: http://www.governor.ny.gov/press/081811bassfishinginhudsonriver.

NYSDEC Adopts Policy to Reduce Cooling Water Intake and Fish Kills by 90 Percent

Power plants and other industrial facilities in New York are now required to use the Best Technology Available (BTA) to protect aquatic wildlife when seeking cooling water intake permits under a new policy finalized by NYSDEC. See cooling policy press release.

NYSDEC Issues Permits for Modern Lafarge Cement Facility

On July 21, 2011, NYSDEC announced that Lafarge Building Materials Inc. received state permits to modernize and expand its existing cement manufacturing facility in Albany County. The new facility will eliminate manufacturing process water discharges, decrease overall water use, and reduce mercury emissions by 66 percent. See Lafarge press release.

Estuary Program Announces Grant Awards

The Hudson River Estuary Program has awarded 29 grants totaling $1,297,782 for local projects which fulfill the goals and targets of the Action Agenda. These funds are for projects proposed in 2008-2009 and delayed due to the state's fiscal difficulties. See details on the 2008-2009 awards.

Estuary Program Highlights More Than 50 Green Infrastructure Projects with Online Resources

Green infrastructure is gaining popularity as an alternative to traditional stormwater management in the Hudson Valley. Green infrastructure practices maintain or restore stormwater's natural flow pattern by allowing water to slowly permeate the ground. The Green Infrastructure Examples webpage highlights more than 50 demonstration projects, including photos and details about each site.

A photo of a rain garden

Green infrastructure practices such as rain gardens, green roofs, porous pavements, and rain barrels can recharge groundwater, provide wildlife habitat, beautify neighborhoods, cool urbanized areas, improve air quality and reduce stress on combined sewer systems.

Projects include examples from each county in the Hudson River estuary watershed as well as three recent projects partially funded by the Hudson River Estuary Program: the Ardsley Bus Shelter Stormwater Planter, rain gardens at the Mount Pleasant Highway Garage, and the South County Trailway Rain Garden.

Creature Feature: Recent Selections from the Hudson River Almanac

A photo of a seal at the edge of the river bank

The Hudson River Almanac is a weekly electronic journal of natural history observations by readers throughout the Hudson River watershed from the Adirondacks to the harbor. Learn more about the Hudson's natural history! To sign up to receive the e-Almanac, send us an email message.

July 19, 2011 - The Almanac included a report from Robert Sage at Hyde Park, Hudson River Mile 82: "I have been watching a seal in the river hanging out around my boat, seeming to be playful, even friendly..." Read more at Unusual seal sightings

July 21, 2011 - Citizen explorer Scott Craven reported this sturgeon sighting at Fort Montgomery, Hudson River Mile 46.5: "I was kayaking in the river with my brother when a sturgeon came out of the water about six boat lengths away..." Read more at Leaping Hudson River Sturgeon observed

Catch of the Day: Dates to Save for Events, Activities and Volunteer Opportunities

See a full list of all events related to the Hudson River Estuary Program.

The Web of Life: Internet Links to Vital Estuary Information

Hudson River Research Reserve is operated by New York State and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as a field laboratory for estuarine research, stewardship and education.

The Hudson River Environmental Conditions Observing System (HRECOS) (http://www.hrecos.org/joomla/) is a network of real-time monitoring stations on the Hudson River estuary.

"Estuarian" Opportunity: Study the Hudson in Your School Classroom

Download free lesson plans created by Hudson River Estuary Program educators using the Hudson as context to build understanding and skills required by state standards and tests. About two dozen units are available, mainly for grades 3-7.

Contact us:

Hudson River Estuary Program
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
21 South Putt Corners Road
New Paltz, NY 12561
845-256-3016
Email us
Hudson River Estuary Program web page

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Helping people enjoy, protect and revitalize the Hudson River Estuary and its Valley