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For Release: Monday, November 24, 2014

DEC Releases Hudson River Estuary Habitat Restoration Plan to Improve Health of the Estuary

A new tool to guide restoration and protection actions to sustain priority habitats in the Hudson River estuary is now available for community groups, government agencies, scientists and conservation organizations, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. The Hudson River Estuary Habitat Restoration Plan identifies four priority habitat types for restoration: intertidal (the area between high and low tide), shallow water, shorelines and tributaries, from the federal dam at Troy to the Tappan Zee Bridge. These habitats are all important to the overall health of the ecosystem; have been degraded or destroyed on a large scale by human action; and provide feasible opportunities for restoration.

"The Habitat Restoration Plan provides a foundation for achieving the Estuary Program's goal," said Commissioner Martens. "The work includes restoring tidal wetlands, natural shorelines and shallows, and facilitating fish passage up the Hudson's tributaries. Restoring healthy habitats provides significant benefits for fish, birds, turtles, crabs, mammals, invertebrate animals and the residents of the Hudson River Valley and New York State."

Dating back to the early 1800s a variety of activities damaged habitats in the Hudson River estuary including dredging of the navigation channel and filling of adjacent wetlands; construction of the railroad along sensitive shoreline habitats; and construction of dams in tributaries, affecting fish, bird and wildlife populations. In addition, loss of coastal shallows and wetlands has reduced the diversity and productivity of these important natural areas, limiting the Hudson's ability to adapt to climate change and rapid sea-level rise. Loss of coastal shallows and wetlands also has made coastal communities more vulnerable to flooding and intense storms by removing the natural barriers that protect against weather extremes.

The Hudson River Estuary Habitat Restoration Plan is intended for use by community groups, government agencies, scientists, conservation organizations and other restoration organizations throughout the region to plan, carry out and evaluate habitat restoration and protection projects that will improve ecosystem health and resilience and support adaptation to sea-level rise by river shoreline communities.

The Hudson River Habitat Restoration Plan was developed with input from state and federal regulatory agencies, scientists, natural resource managers and non-governmental organizations. Many technical resources produced by these groups were used to develop an understanding of current conditions and how they have changed due to human action.

The Hudson River Habitat Restoration Plan is available on DEC's website.

The Hudson River Estuary Program protects and improves the natural and scenic Hudson River watershed for all its residents. The program was created in 1987 and extends from the Troy dam to the upper New York Harbor. Its core mission is to ensure clean water; protect and restore fish and wildlife and their habitats; provide river access and water recreation; adapt to climate change; and conserve the Hudson Valley's world-famous scenery. The Hudson River Estuary Program is a project of the NYS Environmental Protection Fund.

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