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Conservation and Land Use Program for the Hudson River Estuary Watershed

Watch a short video (leaves DEC website) to learn how a town used inventory, planning, and Critical Environmental Area designation to help protect its conservation priorities.
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The Hudson River Estuary Conservation and Land Use program helps communities and partners in the estuary watershed to identify conservation priorities and apply planning principles to their decision-making. Municipalities, land trusts, watershed groups, and other organizations can use the program's scientific data, tools, training, and technical assistance to improve their ability to conserve priority lands and waters that benefit people and the estuary.

Natural Areas and Habitats

Many resources are available from the Estuary Program and partners to learn about natural areas and habitats in local communities and in the estuary watershed:

Emergent marsh in autumn
Wetlands provide vital habitat and community benefits
(L. Heady)
  • Hudson Valley Natural Resource Mapper: This interactive mapping application can be used to identify habitats, water resources, recreation amenities, and other features to be considered during conservation and land-use planning.
  • Hudson River Estuary Wildlife and Habitat Conservation Framework: The Framework provides an overview of biodiversity in the estuary watershed, describes key plant and animal habitats, includes a map and descriptions of Significant Biodiversity Areas, and proposes conservation strategies.
  • Habitat Summaries: Municipalities engaging in conservation planning projects can request a summary of biological data available for their community.
  • Conservation Guides (leaves DEC website): The NY Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP) maintains online animal, plant, and community guides that include descriptions, habitat distribution, places to see wildlife or habitats, conservation issues, and recommendations for planning and management.
  • GIS Data: The Estuary Program partnered with NYNHP to increase understanding of conservation priorities in the estuary watershed. Natural Heritage Important Areas (leaves DEC website) are lands and waters that support known populations of rare animals and rare plants, or of rare or high-quality ecological communities. The Forest Condition Index (leaves DEC website) mapped and prioritized large forest patches across the watershed based on a suite of different characteristics.
  • Wildlife Atlases: The Breeding Bird Atlas and the Amphibian and Reptile Atlas provide records of breeding bird, or amphibian and reptile species, reported by volunteers to the DEC.

Conservation and Land-Use Planning

People reviewing a site plan map
Land use decision-makers learn how to identify important
natural resources during project review (L. Heady)

The process of inventorying important natural areas, setting conservation priorities, and identifying planning strategies is critically valuable. This approach can help communities protect the benefits they receive from nature such as clean water, wildlife habitat, scenery, and climate adaptation. Resources available to guide conservation and land-use planning in the estuary watershed include:

Visit the Conservation Planning Guidance page to view or download fact sheets, videos, and the publications listed above.

More about Conservation and Land Use Program for the Hudson River Estuary Watershed :

  • Conservation Planning Guidance - A resource center for municipal planning related to conservation and land use around the Hudson River Estuary.
  • Conservation and Land Use Webinars - Learn more about conservation and land use planning with this compilation of helpful webinars provided by the Hudson River Estuary program and our partners throughout the Hudson River valley.
  • Amphibian Migrations and Road Crossings - By documenting Big Night migrations and road crossings, volunteers can contribute to the conservation of woodland pool breeding amphibians in the estuary watershed.
  • Woodland Pool Conservation - Woodland pools are important breeding habitat for a number of forest-dwelling amphibians and invertebrates in the Hudson Valley.