New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced $1.14 million in competitive grant funding is now available to help communities in the Hudson River Estuary watershed increase resiliency to flooding, protect water quality, fish, and wildlife habitat, and improve recreational access and education for all, including people with disabilities and New Yorkers living in communities historically and disproportionately overburdened by environmental pollution.
Three types of grant opportunities are available through three Requests for Applications (RFAs): Local Stewardship Planning; River Access; and River Education. The deadline for all applications is June 1, 2022, at 3 p.m. These RFAs are only available online through the NYS Grants Gateway. The Grants Gateway is a web-based grant management system that streamlines how grants are administered by the State.
Hudson River Estuary Access
Approximately $300,000 is available for projects to improve resiliency to flooding and sea-level rise and improve accessibility for people with disabilities at sites for boating, fishing, swimming, and/or wildlife-dependent recreation along the shores of the Hudson River Estuary, including the tidal portion of its tributaries. This funding may be used to develop plans or designs or to purchase equipment, and/or support the construction of physical improvements. The minimum grant award is $10,500, and the maximum grant amount is $75,000.
Approximately $240,000 is available to support projects to enhance education about the estuary along the tidal waters of the Hudson and to make opportunities to learn about the Hudson River Estuary more accessible. Funding may be used to design, equip, and/or construct educational facilities, as well as improve programs, materials, and visitor experiences. Funding may also be used to deliver environmental science and conservation education programs to support a paid environmental science research program for high school students, college students, and young adults focused on the Hudson River Estuary ecosystem.
The goal is to provide an opportunity for people that may have barriers to otherwise accessing intensive research opportunities and help develop their skills in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). The minimum grant award is $10,500, and the maximum grant amount is $75,000. Additional points are given to projects in communities historically and disproportionately overburdened by environmental pollution, known as Environmental Justice areas, and projects that support regional economic development strategies.
Local Stewardship Planning
Approximately $600,000 is available for four categories of local projects and programs to support planning for:
- Creating climate vulnerability assessments, adaptation plans, and strategies for waterfront communities in the Hudson River estuary watershed to adapt to climate risks like flooding, sea-level rise, heat, and drought, including using natural and nature-based solutions and considering social equity;
- Engineering plans/designs to make water infrastructure more resilient to flooding and/or sea-level rise;
- Planning for conservation of natural resources by creating a natural resources inventory, open space inventory/index, open space plan, conservation overlay zone, open space funding feasibility study, or connectivity plan; and
- Water quality monitoring, watershed characterization, and water quality improvement planning and design.
The minimum grant award is $10,500 and the maximum award is $50,000. Additional points are given to projects in Environmental Justice areas and projects that support regional economic development strategies.
Grants are administered by DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program and funded by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Among the many environmental victories in the 2022-23 State Budget, Governor Kathy Hochul succeeded in enacting an increase in the EPF from $300 to $400 million, the highest-ever level of funding in the program’s history. The EPF supports climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, improves agricultural resources to promote sustainable agriculture, protects our water sources, advances conservation efforts, and provides recreational opportunities for New Yorkers.
All grant applicants, including government agencies and not-for-profit corporations, must be registered in the NYS Grants Gateway to be eligible to apply for any State grant opportunity. Not-for-profit applicants are required to “prequalify” in the Grants Gateway system. For more information about Grants Gateway, visit the Grants Management website or contact the Grants Gateway Team at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
General information about these grants is also available on DEC’s website. Completed grant applications must be submitted online through the Grants Gateway by 3 pm on June 1st, 2022. General questions about the Hudson River Estuary grants application process may be directed to Susan Pepe, Estuary Grants Manager, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-3506; HREPgrants@dec.ny.gov.
Now in its 20th year, the Estuary Grants Program implements priorities outlined in DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda 2021-2025. To date, the Hudson River Estuary Program has awarded 594 grants totaling $25.5 million. To view the Action Agenda and for complete details about the new grant funding, visit the DEC website.