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RiverNet Issue #2 - February 2012

a collage of photos showing activities on the Hudson
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation - Hudson River Estuary Program

Hudson River Estuary and Watershed News

Stay connected through RiverNet, the Hudson River Estuary Program's e-newsletter, which covers projects, events and actions related to the Hudson and its watershed. Please email RiverNet editor Candi Sterling with your feedback for future issues!

In This Issue:


Volunteers are Key to River Science - Commentary by Estuary Coordinator Fran Dunwell

The strong volunteer spirit in the region is a unique asset we have tapped into. Fifteen years ago, when we launched our first Action Agenda, we knew very little about the extent of aquatic plants and their value to the ecosystem. Now, through science and citizen action, we are able to better manage this vital habitat. At the November 2011 meeting of the Estuary Advisory Committee, I was delighted to present Estuary Conservation Partner Awards to 37 volunteers who monitor submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) from their kayaks.

Organized by the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies with our support, this project helps track annual changes of SAV in the estuary and yields data that support our Action Agenda goals for conservation of this key habitat type. Without these citizen scientists, such details would remain unknown. SAV provides crucial oxygen to the estuary and supports a rich diversity of small organisms that are vital to the food chain. This project is just one of many opportunities for volunteers to contribute to river science. Try it!

Current Tidings

Sea Level Rise Maps to be Created with LIDAR Technology

LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology will now be used to identify areas of New York State's coastline at greatest risk from sea level rise, flooding and strong coastal storms. The maps will help determine which natural systems, built infrastructure and properties are most vulnerable. LIDAR measures elevation by sending pulses of laser light from an airplane to reflect off surfaces of the earth. The technology, which creates maps more detailed and accurate than current topographic maps, has already been used to create maps of New York City. This coordinated effort involving the Estuary Program and U.S. Department of Commerce is made possible through the NYS Environmental Protection Fund. NYSDEC's Floodplain Mapping Program has also been collecting LIDAR data in many counties across the state to determine inland flood risk.

Saw Mill River Daylighting Ceremony
Saw Mill River Daylighting Ceremony -
photo by Seth Martel, courtesy of Scenic Hudson

Saw Mill River Restored to Daylight

For the past hundred years, the Saw Mill River that flows through the City of Yonkers has lain hidden beneath a parking lot. On the December 6, 2011, the city held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the restoration of the river to daylight. Once overwhelmed by sewage and industrial waste, pollution controls are now in place to improve water quality and habitat features include a fish ladder, waterfall and riffles. NYSDEC invested over $2 million from the NYS Environmental Protection Fund in the project and presented 15 Hudson River Estuary Partner Awards to civic leaders. The project is expected to attract new economic development into the heart of the city and provide habitat for fish.

Proposed Haverstraw Desalination Plant

NYSDEC has approved a draft environmental impact statement for United Water New York Inc.'s proposed Haverstraw Water Supply Project. A February 28 public hearing is scheduled at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Haverstraw Town Hall. The proposed project would permit the company to withdraw up to 10 million gallons of Hudson River water per day, desalinate and distribute the water to United Water customers. Read more about the proposed project and its history.

Federal Government Declares Sturgeon "Endangered"

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced five Atlantic sturgeon populations will be listed on the Endangered Species List on April 6, 2012. The Chesapeake Bay, New York Bight, Carolina, and South Atlantic populations of Atlantic sturgeon will be listed as endangered, while the Gulf of Maine population will be listed as threatened. Learn more at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/stories/2012/01/31_atlantic_sturgeon.html.

Black Creek Aquisition
Partners celebrate the Black Creek Acquisition

Black Creek Habitat Protection: NYS Acquires 600 Acres

In December 2011, NYSDEC acquired nearly 600 acres of public land adjoining the home of noted naturalist John Burroughs in the town of Esopus, Ulster County. The new Black Creek State Forest joins a network of public and private conservation lands that protect this important tributary. NYSDEC Commissioner Joe Martens called the acquisition "a terrific example of state, local and non-profit cooperation to protect one of the most intact tributaries of the Hudson River estuary." See the Black Creek acquisition press release.

Research: Three Projects Underway with Cornell's Water Resource Institute

The Estuary Program is currently partnered with Cornell's New York State Water Resource Institute. Recently, Mark Bain's team adapted streamflow models to New York's low flow conditions, giving managers a tool for assessing the potential environmental impacts of water withdrawals in our streams. Claire Stouthamer analyzed the relationship between larval herring and upper-estuary habitats to guide fisheries and restoration efforts. Todd Walter and colleagues established monitoring sites along Ulster and Greene County streams to provide early warning of emerald ash borer infestation. Learn more at http://wri.eas.cornell.edu/index.html.

Estuary Advisory Committe on November 16, 2011
The Estuary Advisory Committee gathered on
November 16, 2011 to review our progress

Spotlight: 15 Years of Action!

In 2011, the Estuary Program celebrated the 15th anniversary of the release of the first Estuary Action Agenda, which created a framework for collaboration on shared goals. Read the Hudson River Estuary Program's report on 15 years of progress.

Regional Economic Development Council Awards Include Environmental Projects

On December 8, 2011, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced financial awards for innovative economic planning and job creation projects across New York State. Find out more about the Hudson River Valley projects http://nyworks.ny.gov/

Mother Nature Speaks: Extreme Winter Tides

The Almanac's Tom Lake Documents Extreme Tidal Conditions

The Hudson River estuary experienced notable peak tides recently. From Spring Tide to King Tide, all tides play a role in the environment, help shape coastal communities and are impacted by gravitational pull and real time weather. Read what happened in the Almanac.

Bald Eagle
Photo by Mike Pogue

Creature Feature: It's the Season for Bald Eagles

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.

Watch for Bald Eagle Frolics in February!

Mid-month, eagles start performing courtship displays when their breeding season begins. These graceful "aerial ballets" can include mid-air talon grabs and wing touches, dramatic free falls and loops, and perfectly symmetrical shadow flights. See what else to look for this month and also the signs of spring that appear in March!

Earlier this winter, lively eagle behavior was captured along the Hudson. Read what happened in the Hudson River Almanac.

Catch of the Day: Volunteer this Spring - Plant Trees, Watch Frogs, Catch Fish

Hudson Estuary Trees for Tribs: Call for Sites!

The Estuary Program is accepting site applications for the Trees for Tribs ("tribs" as in tributaries) program until March 1, 2012. The program offers free native trees and shrubs for streamside planting/restoration projects in the Hudson River estuary watershed. The Program's Stream Buffer Coordinator can assist with plant selection, planning and other information. To apply, visit Trees for Tribs Project Overview.

Tree for Tribs Planting
Hudson Estuary Trees for Tribs Planting

Get Involved: Citizen Science and Stewardship

Each spring, adventurous volunteers participate in vital and unique projects. Get involved today!

Amphibian Migrations and Road Crossing Project
Eel Monitoring Project
Herring Monitoring Project
Cooperative Angler Training

Hudson River Day 2012 set for July 21!

Save the date for the fourth annual Hudson River Day! In 2009, the first River Day was held as part of the region-wide Quadricentennial celebration. For more information or to get involved, email us.

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) is a network of real-time monitoring stations on the Hudson River estuary. Learn more at http://www.hrecos.org/joomla/

Study the Hudson in your school classroom
Download free lesson plans created by Hudson River Estuary Program educators. These plans use the Hudson as a context to build understanding and skills required by state standards and tests. Approximately 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
Hudson River Estuary Program email
Hudson River Estuary Program website

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