CAPITAL DISTRICT — Several local projects were named as beneficiaries in today’s (Thursday, Sept. 29) state Department of Environmental Conservation’s announcement of nearly $500,000 worth of grants awarded to protect the Hudson River.
Rensselaer Land Trust ($85,000) and Siena College ($48,244) were named as direct beneficiaries for part of the total $441,091 in grants going to 10 projects to help communities in the Hudson River Estuary watershed. The goal is to protect water quality and habitats, conserve open space and increase storm resiliency, said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos.
“The Hudson River and its Valley are critical players in the history of New York State. The Hudson River Estuary Program was created to ensure that proud history continues into the present by helping New Yorkers enjoy, protect, and revitalize the river,” said Seggos. “From the federal dam at Troy to the Verrazano Narrows in New York City, the Hudson River Estuary Program invests in protecting our natural resources like clean water, vital ecosystems, fish, wildlife, and habitats, while supporting stronger, more resilient communities up and down its banks.”
New York’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) provides the grants and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Hudson River Estuary program (HREP) will administer the funds. These grants support planning for local stewardship of the river environment to help achieve the goals of the 2015-2020 Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda. The awards also align with Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) strategies, including supporting land conservation and park projects that link town centers with open space, cultural, and heritage sites, and protecting clean water and ecological resources that are buffers to public parks.
The awarded grants are:
City of Kingston (Ulster County) – $24,500
The City of Kingston will complete a community-driven Open Space Plan to preserve, protect, and enhance natural areas. The plan will identify and prioritize green space, water, and natural resources, as well as parks, natural, historic and cultural resources. The plan will also promote sustainable development and serve as a framework for land-use planning and protection.
Vassar College (Dutchess County) – $50,000
Vassar College will produce a Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) for the City of Poughkeepsie to provide baseline information on natural, historic, and cultural resources including parks, tributaries to the Hudson, the Poughkeepsie waterfront, and city trees. Vassar undergraduate students will map ash trees within city limits and propose management options to protect ash trees from the invasive emerald ash borer.
Rensselaer Land Trust (Rensselaer County) – $50,000
Rensselaer Land Trust will recruit and train citizen scientists to collect water samples at 18 sites on four streams: the Poesten Kill, Wynants Kill, Mill Creek, and Moordener Kill. Citizens will perform simple tests for enterococcus bacteria levels. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) will help analyze and interpret the data. The assessment will be shared with the general public, municipal decision-makers, and others.
Siena College (Albany, Dutchess, Ulster, Westchester Counties) – $48,244
Siena College will develop collaborative research priorities and an action plan to help watershed communities make science-based management decisions for river tributaries. The project will create a research network with other colleges to study the Kromma Kill and Patroon Creek watersheds in Albany County, Saw Kill and Wallkill River watersheds in Dutchess and Ulster counties, and Pocantico and Saw Mill River watersheds in Westchester County.
Mohonk Preserve (Ulster County) – $47,440
Mohonk Preserve will create a conservation plan for the Kleine Kill and Coxing Kill watersheds on the Shawangunk Ridge. The plan will evaluate water quality, identify vulnerable species, assess invasive threats, determine the need for riparian buffers, assess the impact of current agricultural practices, and inform the siting of future trails and/or educational kiosks.
Columbia Land Conservancy (Columbia County) – $43,067
Columbia Land Conservancy will create a NRI for Columbia County, encompassing 22 municipalities in the upper Hudson River estuary watershed. The Conservancy will gather and analyze existing data about the physical, biological, and cultural aspects of the landscape and identify lands important for resiliency to climate change. The information will be shared with local municipalities.
Onondaga Environmental Institute, Inc., (Rensselaer County) – $42,840
Onondaga Environmental Institute will develop a Watershed Plan for the Poestenkill Creek using water quality assessments and biological surveys. The plan will help identify areas with the greatest conservation need in the watershed, as well as species of concern and potential stream restoration sites.
Rensselaer Land Trust (Rensselaer County) – $35,000
The Rensselaer Land Trust will work with municipalities and residents to develop a conservation plan to guide land conservation in Rensselaer County. The project will inventory and map natural resources, significant open spaces, and landscape features. The Land Trust will also assess which lands are conservation priorities. The Rensselaer County Conservation Plan and associated outreach materials will be distributed to municipalities and partners, and at public workshops.
Riverkeeper (Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Ulster and Westchester Counties) – $50,000
This grant will support Riverkeeper’s community science water-quality projects throughout the Hudson River Estuary that monitor fecal indicator bacteria and support the development of protocols to monitor algae and nutrients. This project will focus on the Rondout Creek and Wallkill River watersheds and the Harlem, Bronx, and East rivers in New York City. Data collection and water sample processing are being done in collaboration with the City University of New York (CUNY) Queens and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (Richmond County) – $50,000
New York City Department of Parks & Recreation will develop a watershed plan for park land on the North Shore of Staten Island that focuses on opportunities for habitat, riparian, shoreline restoration and green infrastructure for stormwater management. The project will also develop conceptual designs for ecosystem restoration at the mouth of Harbor Brook in Snug Harbor to increase educational opportunities for partner organizations, including the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and the Staten Island Museum.
The Hudson River Estuary Program helps people enjoy, protect, and revitalize the Hudson River and its valley. Created in 1987 through the Hudson River Estuary Management Act, the program focuses on the tidal Hudson and adjacent watershed from the federal dam at Troy to the Verrazano Narrows in New York City. For more information about the Hudson River Estuary Program, visit the DEC website.