New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced grants totaling more than $1.4 million for 23 projects to help communities along the Hudson River Estuary improve water quality and enhance environmental education and stewardship.
The announcement coincides with the 20th Annual ‘Day in the Life of the Hudson and Harbor,’ where 5,000 student scientists are gathering along the Hudson River and New York Harbor to collect data on the Hudson’s fish and invertebrates, track the river’s tides and currents, and examine water chemistry and quality.
The grants are administered by DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program. Now in its 20th year, the Estuary Grants Program implements priorities outlined in DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda 2021-2025. To date, DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program has awarded 617 grants totaling nearly $27 million.
Funding for DEC’s Estuary Grants program is provided by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), a critical resource for environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, recreation access, water quality improvement, and environmental justice projects.
Grant recipients listed by region are:
- Hudson River Watershed Alliance (HRWA) – $50,000: Watershed Characterization: Guidance Document and Planning Support. HRWA will create a regionally applicable guidance document on developing a watershed characterization using the watershed planning framework established by the Department of State and DEC, adding up-to-date information on data sources, the planning process, and best practices.A watershed characterization is the first step in developing a watershed management plan.
- Rensselaer Plateau Alliance, Inc. – $23,002: Poestenkill Headwaters Flood Mitigation Wetlands Pilot Project. The goal of the pilot project is to demonstrate the feasibility of detaining flood runoff from major precipitation events on wetlands in the upper Poestenkill watershed, and collect performance data for use in designing full-scale detention installations in these wetlands.
- Riverkeeper, Inc. – $150,000: Undamming Mill Creek. This project funds a site assessment, survey, structural engineering evaluation, and preliminary design and engineering plans for the removal of Kenwood Mill Dam on Mill Creek in the city of Rensselaer, which will open critical habitat for river herring and American eel.
- Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies – $75,000: Mid-Hudson Young Environmental Scientists (MH-YES). MH-YES will help high school students from underserved communities and groups traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) build their knowledge, skills, motivation, and confidence to pursue environmental science through a three-week, paid research program.
- Town of Stanford – $20,406: A Natural Resources Inventory for the town of Stanford. The Stanford Conservation Advisory Commission, with assistance from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Dutchess County and Hudsonia, Inc., will provide GIS analysis, mapping, and documentation of critical habitats and natural resources in the town of Stanford.
Dutchess and Putnam Counties
- Pace University – $37,085: Fishkill Creek Watershed Land Use Leadership Alliance Training Program. The Land Use Law Center (LULA) at Pace University’s School of Law will implement a community-based LULA program for the Fishkill Creek watershed within Dutchess and Putnam counties, to foster the development of targeted policy, planning, and regulatory tools for natural resource and open space protection, watershed planning, and shoreline resiliency.
- City of Newburgh – $50,000: Natural Resources Inventory. This project will produce a natural resources inventory for the city of Newburgh that will identify and document areas to protect, including water resources, habitats, viewsheds, wildlife, and natural areas important for climate resilience.
- Walter Hoving Home, Inc. – $100,000: Philips Brook Dam Removal and Restoration Project. This grant will fund design, engineering, permits, and construction documents necessary for the removal of a dam on Phillips Brook in the town of Garrison, which will restore stream habitat and improve flood resilience.
- The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York – $74,969: Hudson River Education: Building A Pathway. The Building A Pathway project will enhance the Next Generation of Hudson River Educators paid internship program by offering the opportunity for student teams to develop field-research projects along a range of Hudson River science topics at the Columbia Climate School’s Lamont-Doherty Field Station in Piermont.
- Arm of the Sea Productions Inc. – $54,467: Estuary Education in Saugerties-on-Hudson. Arm-of-the-Sea is partnering with Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy to offer environmental education and workshops about the Hudson River estuary using a newly built watershed model.
- Groundwork Hudson Valley – $49,900: Flood Vulnerability Modeling and Climate Resilience in the Saw Mill River Watershed. Groundwork Hudson Valley and the Saw Mill River Coalition will engage watershed stakeholders in a two-year process to plan for future flood risks. The Urban Systems Lab at the New School will provide an overview of flooding issues in the watershed and characterize the highest risk sites based on climate predictions, to inform future flood resilience plans.
- Groundwork Hudson Valley – $74,500: Furthering the STEM Career Pathway: A Research Fellowship for Yonkers Students at the Science Barge. This project will expand and formalize youth research initiatives at the Science Barge, a floating hydroponic farm and environmental education center in Yonkers, providing high school students with a flexible, paid fellowship research experience over a two-year period.
- Village of Ossining – $50,000: Ossining Riverfront Resilience Plan. This project will create a resilience vision and strategies for environmental sustainability for the Ossining waterfront north of Louis Engel and Gourdine parks, which is projected to be impacted by sea level rise, inundation, and increased flooding over the next three decades.
- Sarah Lawrence College – $70,000: Rising Training Innovative and Diverse Environmental Scientists (TIDES) – EELS Team (Evaluating Estuary Lateral Species). This project supports Rising TIDES, an immersive Hudson River ecology education and research program that will offer 20 Yonkers high school students paid, after-school education and research opportunities during the academic year.
Westchester and Orange Counties
- Riverkeeper Inc. – $68,042: Dam Removal Feasibility on Furnace Brook and Quassaick Creek. Riverkeeper will explore the feasibility of removing three priority dams on Furnace Brook in Westchester County and Quassaick Creek in Orange County to restore natural flow regimes, improve ecological connectivity, and benefit river herring and American eel.
Westchester and Putnam Counties
- Riverkeeper Inc. – $50,000: Water Quality Monitoring in Peekskill Hollow Creek. Riverkeeper will work with the city of Peekskill to monitor and assess water quality in Peekskill Hollow Creek, a critical, regionally significant drinking water supply for more than 100,000 people, identified in the city’s draft Drinking Water Source Protection Plan.
NEW YORK CITY
New York County
- Billion Oyster Project, Inc. – $75,000: Billion Oyster Project Harbor Education Center. Billion Oyster Project will design and equip a newly renovated building on Governors Island to house the Billion Oyster Project Harbor Education Center. The center will include a public education exhibit, a classroom, and a training center for city public school teachers and community scientists.
- Friends of Hudson River Park, Inc. – $45,791: Hudson River Park Pier 57 Estuary Learning Center. This project will create curriculum and interpretive materials for the Estuary Learning Center, which provides interactive education programs about the park’s 400-acre Estuary Sanctuary for students, residents, and visitors.
- Friends of Hudson River Park, Inc. – $30,348: Hudson River Park River Access Community Planning and Safety Project. Hudson River Park will work with the four paddling and rowing groups and boathouses within the park to plan and implement best practices for safety on the park’s floating docks, which will include improving dock stability to provide resilience against flooding, and installing signage to educate users about safe river access and boating safety.
- Natural Areas Conservancy, Inc. – $73,923: Forest Remeasurement Research Project for City University of New York (CUNY) Interns in Northern Manhattan Parks. The Natural Areas Conservancy will develop environmental science research projects for paid CUNY student interns to conduct field research on the condition of natural area forests in northern Manhattan.
- New York Outrigger, Inc. – $60,800: Enhancing Equitable River Access for Adaptive Paddlers. New York Outrigger will purchase adaptive equipment for paddlers of all abilities that includes launching and docking assistive equipment, lightweight outrigger canoes, and wide-base stand up paddleboards and custom paddles, as well as provide training for coaches and volunteers.
- Randall’s Island Park Alliance, Inc. – $75,000: Working Apprenticeship Through Estuarine Research for Students. Randall’s Island Park Alliance will enhance its current research and internship program, Park-as-Lab, by providing stipends for students from local neighborhoods to conduct environmental research at the island’s 22 acres of restored natural areas, which includes two salt marshes and more than four miles of shoreline in New York City.
Richmond and Bronx Counties
- Waterfront Alliance, Inc. – $65,241: Opening Underutilized New York City-Owned Sites along the Hudson River Estuary for Waterfront Recreation and Access. This project will create community action plans for two potential access sites to the Hudson in underserved communities on the north shore of Staten Island and The Bronx.
For more information about the Hudson River Estuary Program, click here.
Photo: Students catch fish with seine nets at ‘Day in the Life of the Hudson and Harbor’ event in Albany provided.