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For Release: Tuesday, August 27, 2019

DEC Awards $216,000 in Grants to Reduce Flooding and Restore Aquatic Habitats in Hudson River Estuary

Awards to Help Reduce Flood Risk and Protect Natural Resources in Columbia, Greene and Ulster Counties

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced more than $216,000 in grant funding for two projects to help communities prepare for and mitigate localized flooding, improve water quality, and restore aquatic habitats in tributary streams of the Hudson River Estuary. Funding for these projects is provided by the State's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and is administered by DEC's Hudson River Estuary Program in partnership with the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC).

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "New York State is committed to protecting the communities and natural resources of the Hudson River estuary watershed. Supported by Governor Cuomo's $300 million sustained investments in the Environmental Protection Fund, and partnerships with communities, environmental groups, and civic organizations, New York has significantly improved the ecological health of the Hudson River, and the grants announced today will sustain these efforts into the future."

The grants will help communities in the Hudson River Estuary watershed develop municipal management plans to prioritize culvert replacements that will help restore aquatic habitat for American eel-a species that hatches in the ocean and then migrates into tributary streams of the estuary to complete its life cycle. Removing these stream barriers will also benefit resident fish, such as trout, and will help communities with existing and projected impacts of localized flooding by removing constrictions.

Susan Sullivan, NEIWPCC Executive Director, said, "NEIWPCC is pleased to be able to help communities develop municipal management plans and designs to address inadequate road-stream crossings to restore aquatic connectivity and reduce flood hazards."

Funded projects are:

Road Stream Crossing Management Plans in the Towns of Austerlitz, Ghent and New Baltimore, Columbia County: $109,807
Trout Unlimited, in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties and the Housatonic Valley Association will identify and prioritize road-stream crossing replacement projects to improve stream habitat and community flood resiliency in the towns of Austerlitz, Ghent, and New Baltimore. The area includes most of the Kline Kill, a portion of the Green River, North Creek, Hannacrois Creek, and the Vlockie Kill, which includes 430 road stream crossings and 23 registered dams. The headwaters of the Hudson River support spawning of native species such as Eastern brook trout, American eel, and river herring. Priority replacement projects will include inadequately sized culverts that threaten both community road infrastructure and the ability for fish and wildlife to move freely in streams and stream corridors. Trout Unlimited will survey and complete conceptual design alternatives for the highest priority crossing in each town, and one shovel-ready design for each town.

Municipal Road-Stream Crossings in the Lower Esopus Creek Watershed, Ulster County: $106,509
Ulster County Department of the Environment, in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County, will inventory and assess culverts within the Lower Esopus Watershed in order to develop town-wide, municipal road-stream crossing management plans for the towns of Woodstock, Kingston, and Saugerties. The management plans will allow municipalities to identify priority culvert replacement projects that improve flood resiliency and road infrastructure condition and are barriers to fish and wildlife passage. The project also will produce conceptual designs for three county crossings and shovel-ready designs for up to two additional crossings. In recent years, repetitive flood losses in certain areas have plagued the towns of Saugerties and Woodstock.

In the 2019-20 State Budget, Governor Cuomo sustained the record-high Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) at $300 million for the fourth year in a row, providing funding for open space conservation, clean water infrastructure, and other environmental protection projects, including grants to reduce flooding and restore the Hudson River Estuary.

The Hudson River Estuary Program helps people enjoy, protect, and revitalize the Hudson River and its valley. Created in 1987, the program focuses on the tidal Hudson and its adjacent watershed from the dam at Troy to the Verrazano Narrows in New York City.

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