Waterways at Schodack Island State Park, which sits off the eastern shore of the Hudson River just south of Albany, that were filled in a century ago will be restored under a project coordinated by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to re-create 2.8 acres of natural habitat and improve the health of the Hudson River.
Supporting DEC efforts to restore the environmental health of the Hudson River, State Parks completed a feasibility study for restoration projects at the 1,052-acre Schodack Island State Park located in Rensselaer County. The feasibility study identified and recommended recreating several former river channels on the island that once connected Schodack Creek, an important spawning ground for native fish, to the Hudson River.
These channels were filled in during the early 20th century with materials dredged from the river bottom during construction of the commercial navigation channel. DEC provided Parks with a $200,000 grant under the Hudson River Estuary Program to fund the feasibility study, which was completed in February 2023. Project design and construction would be supported by $1.84 million in environmental mitigation funds.
Though diminished due to these impacts, Schodack Creek is still a major nursery and feeding area for fish including American shad, white perch, alewife, blueback herring, and black bass. Historical records show that the Hudson River, Schodack Creek and side channels between the islands supported robust populations of these species and the endangered Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon, prior to the creation of the navigational channel. These projects aim to restore some of that lost habitat and improve existing habitat in Schodack Creek.
In addition to the channel restoration, State Parks staff is also studying potential wetland restoration projects on the island, which provide critical habitat for birds including green backed heron, mallard, black duck, spotted sandpiper, American woodcock, marsh wren, and swamp sparrow.
Restoration of the channels and wetlands is also being designed to make Schodack Island State Park’s infrastructure more resilient to flooding and could also improve flood resiliency overall by providing additional water storage capacity during flooding events, which are projected to become more common because of human-induced climate change.
Schodack Island also has important cultural connections to the indigenous nations and is still the traditional homelands of the Mohican people. It was a central location for their community and is where they kept their council fire, which has since moved to Wisconsin. The Stockbridge-Munsee have a nearby Tribal Historic Preservation Office and continue to maintain strong ties with this area.
Schodack Island State Park offers a campground with 66 campsites, picnic tables, eight miles of trails, biking, fishing, and hunting. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails are maintained during the winter. More than 200,00 people visit the park each year.
Illustration of Schodack Island Channel Restoration provided.