Department of Environmental Conservation

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For Release: Wednesday, December 18, 2019

DEC Announces $957,000 in Awards for 23 Projects in Hudson River Estuary Watershed Communities

Grants Awarded to 11 Counties to Enhance River Access and Education and Promote Environmental Stewardship

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced grant awards totaling more than $957,000 for 23 projects to help communities along the Hudson River Estuary design and improve recreational access, enhance education about the river, and advance stewardship of natural resources.

"Thanks to Governor Cuomo's support and investments, riverfront communities along the Hudson River are becoming more involved and connected to this invaluable natural resource," said Commissioner Seggos. "These grant awards build on local conservation efforts and priorities by advancing new possibilities for nature-based tourism and creating expanded recreational opportunities for people of all abilities."

The grants are funded by the State's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and administered by DEC's Hudson River Estuary Program. In the 2019-20 State Budget, a record-high $300 million was sustained for the EPF 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.

Grant recipients by region are listed below:


Columbia County

  • Pace University - $37,588: Southern Columbia/Northern Dutchess Land Use Leadership Alliance Training will develop land use leadership capacity in the watershed areas, helping community stakeholders assess and amend land use plans and zoning codes to protect natural resources and open and increase community resiliency.
  • Columbia Land Conservancy - $49,999: Taghkanic Headwaters Watershed Connectivity Plan will identify municipal and private actions that will help maintain unfragmented forests and streamside habitats in the headwaters of the Taghkanic, which provides drinking water for the city of Hudson. This rural forested area, valued for its scenery, recreational opportunities, and wildlife habitat, is part of a regional forest linkage that is critical for climate change resiliency.

Rensselaer County

  • The Children's Museum of Science and Technology - $38,242: Hudson River Exhibit Improvements. The museum will repair and stock estuary aquarium tanks with Hudson River fish species, create accessible signage, and update teaching curriculum for in-house and outreach educational programs. The museum also will provide staff training for the new fish and exhibit improvements.
  • Trout Unlimited - $49,967: Town of Nassau Road Stream Crossing Management Plan will serve as a guide for future culvert replacements to reconnect high-quality aquatic habitat and improve community flood resiliency and road infrastructure condition within the town. The management plan will include an inventory and prioritized list of road-stream crossings and designs for two-three priority replacement structures. document.


Dutchess County

  • Clarkson University - $39,459: River Ecology Displays, Exhibits and Equipment at Beacon Institute. Clarkson will develop new and updated exhibits, curriculum, and programs about the Hudson River estuary, its watershed, and fish and wildlife for visitors and Beacon schools.
  • Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. - $40,000: The Mighty Hudson - An Interactive Traveling Exhibit. The Sloop Clearwater will research, develop, and construct a universally designed educational exhibit to help youth and adults gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Hudson River and its biology. The traveling exhibit will reach multiple audiences at locations throughout the Hudson Valley.
  • Town of Poughkeepsie - $40,000: Natural Resources Inventory and Open Space Plan. The town of Poughkeepsie will create a natural resources inventory (NRI) and open space plan (OSP) covering about 31 square miles in the town. The NRI and OSP will enable the town to identify priorities for natural resource protection, select tools and techniques to conserve natural resources, and establish conservation goals and strategies.

Orange County

  • Orange County Water Authority - $27,166: Hudson River Estuary & Watershed Curriculum Guide. Orange County Water Authority (OCWA) will develop a curriculum guide and lesson plans and conduct teacher training about the Hudson River estuary, its watershed, and source water protection. The lessons will be piloted through OCWA's conservation education programs.

Putnam County

  • Hudson Highlands Land Trust - $50,000: East Highlands Green Corridors Plan. Hudson Highlands Land Trust will partner with the towns of Philipstown and Putnam Valley to create an implementation plan for building green corridors between existing conserved lands that includes conservation and financing strategies. The plan will prioritize land parcels based on scientific data about at-risk wildlife species and habitats, natural resource maps, and land use.

Rockland County

  • Riverkeeper - $50,000: Sparkill Creek Water Quality Improvements. Riverkeeper will assess water quality in the Sparkill Creek Watershed in coordination with DEC and the local community using DEC's Professional External Evaluation of Rivers and Streams protocols. This project will gather Environmental Laboratory Approval Program lab-certified data, conduct a thorough assessment, and if impairments are documented, recommend updates to the state Priority Waterbodies List or 303(d) list of impaired waters.
  • The Nature Conservancy - $50,000: Community Resilience Building for the Hudson 7. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Hudson River Watershed Alliance (HRWA) will engage four communities of the "Hudson 7," town of Hyde Park, city of Poughkeepsie, and the towns of Esopus and Lloyd, to implement climate-adaptation resiliency planning. The workshops will help these communities recognize, analyze, and map areas of vulnerability and identify activities to reduce risk.
  • The Trustees of Columbia University - $39,830: Broadening Our Reach Through the Next Generation of Hudson River Educators. Columbia Lamont-Doherty educators will work with high school interns from populations underrepresented in the sciences to develop curriculum materials that support field-based and culturally relevant programs about the Hudson River.

Ulster County

  • Town of New Paltz - $35,000: Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) - Town and Village of New Paltz. The NRI project will update and expand on the town's Open Space Plan to provide an online set of maps and information that identify the current natural resources throughout the town and village. The completed NRI will be a reference document for use by town agencies, landowners, and others seeking information about New Paltz's resources and landscapes, and will provide guidance for land-use planning, land development, and conservation.
  • Arm of the Sea Productions Inc. - $50,000: Arm-of-the-Sea Tidewater Center Bulkhead and Walkway. This funding will be used to reconstruct a wooden bulkhead and build an ADA-accessible bulkhead walkway on the tidal Esopus Creek at Arm-of-the-Sea Tidewater Center in Saugerties. The new walkway will provide public access to Esopus Creek for river education programs and enjoyment of nature.
  • Town of Esopus - $30,750: Esopus Parks Surveys and Engineering Evaluations. The survey and structural assessments at George H. Freer Memorial Beach and Lighthouse Park will help the town plan for universal access for canoeing, kayaking, and fishing, and for an accessible trail at Lighthouse Park. The improvements will enhance the park's long-term resiliency to sea-level rise and flooding.

Westchester County

  • Village of Hastings-on-Hudson - $50,000: River Access at MacEachron Park. The village will develop plans and designs for shoreline stabilization and stormwater management using nature-based shoreline principles and will create access to the Hudson River at MacEachron Park.
  • Sarah Lawrence College - $39,639: Hudson River Ecology: Curriculum and Course. The Center for the Urban River at Beczak (CURB) will create and pilot curriculum that includes eight units exploring the ecology, geography, biology, and history of the Hudson River. CURB will pilot the curriculum as a four-week, summer pre-college course for local high school students.
  • Town of Cortlandt - $50,000: Indian Brook/Croton Gorge Overlay Zone. This project will develop a multi-jurisdictional land use overlay zone to protect the Indian Brook/Croton Gorge watershed, which encompasses approximately 3,400 acres in five municipalities including the town of Cortlandt, town and village of Ossining, village of Croton-on-Hudson, and town of New Castle. The overlay zone is intended to bring the disparate environmental laws that currently exist in the five communities into conformity with each other, to help ensure that projects proposed in each individual community are subject to the same land use regulations to ensure the protection of the watershed.


Kings County

  • Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy Inc. - $40,000: Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy Environmental Education. This funding will allow the conservancy to continue free rod and reel catch and release fishing clinics and year-round environmental education programs through 2022. Winter workshops teach the public about fishing licenses and regulations, fisheries biology, types of rod-reels, knot tying, casting, spinning, and conventional rods, and using lures. Funding will also support curriculum on East River marine ecosystems in school-based classes.

New York County

  • Natural Areas Conservancy, Inc. - $49,919: Natural Resources Conservation Planning for Riverside Park, Manhattan. The natural resources conservation plan will include a detailed description of potential restoration and management projects appropriate for volunteers, paid staff, and contractors. Local stewards, the Riverside Park Conservancy, and NYC Parks staff will be trained in monitoring in order to track future improvements to the site.
  • New York Harbor Foundation - $25, 291: New York Harbor Estuary Species ID Guide. Billion Oyster Project (BOP) will create a comprehensive species identification distribution guide that is specific to organisms found in the New York Harbor Estuary. BOP will use and distribute printed copies of this guide at trainings and professional development workshops and will also publish it online.
  • The River Project, Inc. - $34,998: Equipment for the Estuarine Sanctuary Learning Laboratory for Interactive Science and Education. The River Project will outfit and set up new scientific equipment that will allow staff and its partner Hudson River Park Trust to perform a broader range of participatory research projects, including eDNA (environmental DNA) collection and processing. Educators and students will participate through teacher trainings, internships, and field trips.

Richmond County

  • Waterfront Alliance - $39,540: Estuary Explorers. The Waterfront Alliance will develop curriculum and classroom and field activities about the environmental conditions of climate change at its waterfront field lab for public school students, Estuary Explorers. The Waterfront Alliance also will host professional development opportunities for at least 90 middle and high school teachers, which will take place in environmental justice communities in northern Manhattan and Staten Island.
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