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For Release: Friday, February 2, 2018

DEC Announces Availability of $1.4 Million in Grants to Improve Water Quality, Bolster Resiliency in New York Estuaries

Grants Will Help Hudson River, Westchester, New York City, and Long Island Communities Remove Dams and Restore Habitat for American Eel and River Herring

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today that $1.4 million in grant funding is available to help communities in the Hudson River Estuary watershed, Jamaica Bay, Long Island Sound, Peconic Estuary, and South Shore Estuary Reserve watersheds improve water quality, increase flood resiliency, and conserve natural resources.

"At Governor Cuomo's direction, DEC is committed to bolstering the resiliency of New York's communities and we are making this vision a reality with these grants," Commissioner Seggos said. "With this funding, local communities are creating a more sustainable environment and protecting and preserving New York's natural resources, while also increasing resiliency to extreme weather and flooding on Long Island, in Westchester County and New York City, and throughout the Hudson River Valley."

The funding is provided by the State's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and is administered under the State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) 2018 Hudson River Estuary Grants Program for Tributary Restoration and Resiliency and Marine Habitat Tributary Restoration and Resiliency Grants.

The Tributary Restoration and Resiliency grants will help remove dams to restore aquatic habitat connectivity for American eel and/or river herring found in tributary streams of New York estuaries. The grants are also intended to help communities with existing and projected impacts of localized flooding along tributaries of the Hudson and marine estuaries by removing constrictions.

To be eligible for funding, projects must conserve and restore aquatic habitat connectivity for one or both of two Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN)--American eel and/or river herring found in the tributary streams of the watersheds. In most cases, projects must also be designed to pass, at a minimum, a one percent annual chance storm (100-year flood) to promote flood resiliency. Priority will be given to dam removal projects near tidal waters, because of their importance for improving habitat for American eel and river herring.

There are two distinct eligible geographic areas under in this Request for Applications (RFA)-the Hudson River Estuary Program and the Division of Marine Resource priority areas. Eligible projects and geographic locations for these grants are detailed below.

Hudson River Estuary Program Grants ($1,025,000)
Applicants may apply for dam removal projects and engineering and planning projects for dam removal and right-sizing of culverts affecting eel or herring migration in the estuary watershed. A map of identified and prioritized barriers can be viewed on DEC's website. The minimum grant award is $10,500; the maximum award is $1,025,000.
Now in its 16th year, the Estuary Grants Program implements priorities outlined in DEC's Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda: clean water; resilient communities; a vital estuary ecosystem; estuary fish, wildlife and habitats; natural scenery; and education, river access, recreation, and inspiration. To date, the Hudson River Estuary Program has awarded 495 grants totaling $19.4 million. To view the Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda and for complete details about the new grant funding, visit DEC's website.

Division of Marine Resources Marine Habitat Tributary Restoration and Resiliency Grants ($375,000)
Applicants may apply for dam removal projects, construction of fish ladders, and engineering and planning projects for removal of dams, construction of fish ladders, and for right-sizing of culverts affecting eel or herring migration within the boundaries of the Division of Marine Resource priority areas. These include: The Long Island Sound watershed; Peconic Estuary watershed; South Shore Estuary Reserve watershed; and Jamaica Bay. The map of eligible boundaries may be viewed on DEC's website. The minimum grant award is $10,500; the maximum grant award is $375,000.

DEC's Division of Marine Resources manages, restores, and enhances native marine, estuarine, and migratory fish and their habitats. The New York State Ocean Action Plan, announced in January 2017, focuses on improving the health of ocean ecosystems and their capacity to provide sustainable benefits to New Yorkers. Priorities include protecting and restoring sensitive inshore, offshore, and estuarine habitats; and managing ecologically and economically important species, including removing or modifying impediments to migratory fish.

DEC's Hudson River Estuary Program and Division of Marine Resources 2018 Request for Applications (RFA) for Tributary Restoration and Resiliency is available online through the NYS Grants Gateway (Link leaves DEC's webpage). The Grants Gateway is an online grants management system that streamlines the way grants are administered by the State of New York. All grant applicants, including governmental entities and not-for-profit corporations, must be registered in the Grants Gateway to be eligible to apply for any state grant opportunity. Not-For-Profit applicants are required to "prequalify" in the Grants Gateway system. Registration and prequalification information and forms are available online at https://grantsreform.ny.gov.

General information about the Grants Program and on New York Ocean Action Plan is available on DEC's website.

Completed grant applications must be submitted online through the Grants Gateway by 3 p.m. on April 18, 2018. The Grants Reform Team offers regular live webinars for anyone interested in additional information about Grants Gateway, prequalification process, or submitting online applications. Learn more including times and dates for these webinars: http://grantsreform.ny.gov/training-calendar.

Additional technical training related to this application will also be posted to the training calendar. You can also contact the Grants Reform Team for additional assistance at (518) 474-5595 or GrantsReform@its.ny.gov.

General questions about the Hudson River Estuary and Division of Marine Resources grants application process may be directed to Susan Pepe, Estuary Grants Manager, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-3506; HREPgrants@dec.ny.gov.

Senator Tom O'Mara, Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said, "New York State's ongoing investment in water quality and restoration projects within communities and estuaries statewide will make a great difference for future generations. I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Cuomo and all of my legislative colleagues to help secure a stronger environmental future in every region of the state."

Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation said, "As we continue to face the reality of climate change, I am optimistic when I see that New York is continuing to make investments into vulnerable coastal communities such as those along the Long Island Sound. Increased coastline resiliency, water quality protection, and habitat conservation are essential measures communities need to take and I am pleased to see grant monies available in the Environmental Protection Fund to do that."

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