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For Release: Thursday, June 13, 2013

DEC Purchases 296 Acres of Hudson River Lands

Lands to Be Open to Public

Through the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and a federal grant, New York State purchased 296 acres in the towns of Stockport and Stuyvesant in Columbia County that will help protect the world-renowned scenery of the Hudson River Valley, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.

Little Nutten Hook in the towns of Stockport and Stuyvesant was purchased from the Scenic Hudson Land Trust, Inc., and will be added to the Stockport Flats portion of the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve. DEC partnered with Scenic Hudson for the acquisition, which purchased the property in 2010 in anticipation of eventual state ownership. Scenic Hudson and DEC were able to secure a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program for $800,000 of the $1.6 million purchase price. The remaining $800,000 will be funded by the EPF.

"By increasing open space funding by $2.5 million in this year's budget, Governor Cuomo has placed a priority on preserving New York's natural resources, both benefiting the environment and promoting the natural tourism opportunities these lands offer, said Commissioner Martens. "Protecting the ecological values of Little Nutten Hook and Stockport Flats is critical to maintaining and improving Hudson River habitats for numerous fisheries, migratory waterfowl and marsh birds," said Commissioner Martens. "These habitats are important for both the species that depend on them as well as the numerous recreational and economic benefits the Hudson River provides to the people of New York State."

Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State is committed to preserving open space by acquiring land across the state and opening it to the public. Guided by the New York Open Space plan, conserving open space provides environmental and economic benefits through sound land management and preservation while increasing recreational tourism opportunities.

These lands will be managed as part of the Stockport Flats component of the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, one of four natural area complexes that comprise the Reserve. The Reserve is operated as a partnership between New York State and NOAA, and seeks to improve the health and vitality of the Hudson River Estuary through integrated education, training, stewardship, restoration, monitoring and research programs.

Management of these lands will be in accordance with the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve's Final Management Plan: 2009-2014. The new lands will be available for passive recreation, including hunting, wildlife watching, education programs, research and monitoring. Site stewardship will likely include control of invasive species and habitat restoration.

Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, "I applaud Governor Andrew Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Joe Martens for their vision in tapping the Environmental Protection Fund to add this crucial property to lands under state stewardship. Protecting this land was a top priority for Scenic Hudson because of its significant Hudson River shoreline and freshwater tidal wetlands as well as prime birding, paddling and fishing areas that contribute to Columbia County's tourism economy. Kudos also to Congressman Chris Gibson, who helped facilitate the federal Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program providing half of the state's acquisition funding."

The Little Nutten Hook acquisition consolidates almost five miles of Hudson River shoreline, connecting lands of the Nutten Hook Unique Area and the Hudson River Islands State Park on Gay's Point. Little Nutten Hook is within DEC's Hudson River Estuary Area of Biological Concern, Scenic Areas of Statewide Significance, and Important Bird Areas in New York State. It is also within the NYS Department of State's Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitat area.

Stockport Flats contains critical spawning and nursery areas for striped and black bass, shad, river herring, important forage species like shiners and killifish, as well as many other fish species that spend their adult lives in the ocean and return to the Hudson to spawn. It also provides valuable feeding, resting and nesting habitat for migratory waterfowl and marsh birds.

Little Nutten Hook contains 64 acres of unique freshwater tidal wetland communities that are influenced by daily high and low tides along the river, including the state-threatened golden club and heartleaf plantain plants.

In addition, Little Nutten Hook contains more than 100 acres that lie within ten feet of the inundation zone, providing important buffer lands for the eventual migration of habitats and their associated species that could be impacted by sea level rise associated with climate change.

The Stockport Flats site is a five-mile, narrow mosaic of landforms dominated by freshwater tidal wetlands, including sub-tidal shallows, intertidal mudflats, intertidal shores, tidal marshes and floodplain swamps. The Hudson River is entirely tidal freshwater at this site.

The federal Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) was established in 2002 to protect important coastal and estuarine areas throughout the United States that have significant conservation, recreation, ecological, historical or aesthetic values, or face development threats. Federal funds are awarded on a competitive basis to coastal states with federally approved CELCP plans. New York's CELCP plan was prepared by the NYS Department of State and incorporated into the New York's Open Space Conservation Plan.

The New York State Environmental Protection Fund provides funding to support more than a dozen state and local environmental programs that protect the quality of New York's environment. Since its creation in 1993, the EPF has provided more than $650.5 million for land acquisition to protect open space, as guided by the State's Open Space Conservation Plan.

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