The Hudson River Comprehensive Restoration Plan is a plan to improve ecosystem function and health, enhance regional economic potential and reduce the risk to waterfront communities by building resiliency when coping with the impacts of sea level rise and other weather-related events. A plan will provide a framework to guide future strategic action and investment in the Hudson River and its shoreline communities.
Although the Hudson River is far cleaner than it was 40 years ago, many environmental challenges still face the river today. Our “built” environment has exacted a steep toll on the natural habitats like floodplains, tidal wetlands and shallow water areas that protect and buffer our communities.
While working to address the consequences of past activities, communities are simultaneously grappling with the unprecedented storm damage from severe weather, sewage overflows and other challenges. With rising sea levels and increasingly frequent and severe storms expected in the coming decades, these pressures are expected to multiply.
The goal of the plan is a restored Hudson River that sustains the vitality of the Hudson Valley’s natural and human communities now and into the future. The types of projects that will be included in the plan range from habitat restoration, fisheries recovery, to infrastructure improvements that support community resiliency and enhance public access to the estuary.
The Hudson River Comprehensive Restoration Plan is intended to inspire and guide collaborative actions by many entities, and to secure and leverage the resources needed to achieve a shared vision.
With an overwhelming number of actions that can be taken to improve the health of the Hudson River estuary, there was a need for a process that determines what to do and where to do it. The plan details the current conditions of the Hudson River Estuary, identifies potential restoration sites, and recognizes the needs that must be addressed in the coming decades to restore the river and prepare for future conditions including sea level rise and increasingly frequent and severe storms.
It was designed to inform and enhance two existing plans for the river – the federal New York-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program Action Agenda and the New York State Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda.
Sound science lies at the heart of the plan. A first step in the process involved developing a more complete understanding of the river’s important habitats and the way they are related and support fish, wildlife and people. Existing spatial data from federal, state, academic and scientific sources related to the habitats and infrastructure of the Hudson River estuary has been compiled and synthesized.
With this baseline knowledge, Partners identified areas in need of restoration, determined what specific actions or projects will best protect and restore the estuary, as well as where those projects should occur. Expert scientific teams identified “ecological goals” for the estuary – the quantifiable project targets that are necessary for a healthy estuary and are expected to reduce community risk in the face of rising sea levels and other weather-related events.
The Hudson River Restoration Study Area follows the shores of the Hudson River starting at Piermont Marsh (river mile 23) located at the southern edge of the Village of Piermont on the west shore of the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge to the northern inland extent of the tidal Hudson River at the Troy Federal Lock and Dam, river mile 152.
The boundary includes the estuarine and tidal freshwater portions of the Hudson River, including all riverine, open water, and tidal wetlands in this stretch of the river as well as adjoining floodplains, uplands and non-tidal wetlands and immediately adjacent uplands. Upland forested areas may be included so much as they provide necessary buffer for aquatic ecosystem restoration sustainability.
The study area also includes the lower portion of major tributaries and floodplains that drain into the Hudson River proper.
While a Hudson River Comprehensive Restoration Plan will not be an official zoning tool or plan and as such, cannot limit new development, it will help to show where new development may not be a wise investment due to the potential for flooding.
The plan is about leveraging all resources – federal, state, local, not-for-profit and private — to achieve implementation.
Partners Restoring the Hudson is a partnership comprised of more than 30 regional organizations including non-profit organizations, state and federal agencies, and research institutes who came together to develop the Hudson River Comprehensive Restoration Plan.
The partnership represents organizations and agencies that are already deeply invested in the Hudson River working together to share resources, research and public outreach tools in ways to improve the Hudson River in the next decade.
Click Who We Are to view a list of partner organizations and public agencies behind the development of the plan.
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Reach out to your local officials on an individual basis or by attending planning board and/or town meetings to find out if your community is involved in the Hudson River Comprehensive Restoration Plan. If they are not familiar with the plan, encourage them to learn more about it. You and your town officials can keep up-to-date on the latest project news and events by joining our email list.
We encourage you to join our email list. Share your knowledge of existing plans along with habitat restoration and resiliency opportunities in your community with us. (To view a list of the types of projects that will be included in a plan, click here.)
With the Hudson River being an important contributor to the local economic, tourism and recreation activities, communities can benefit by participating in the Hudson River Comprehensive Restoration Plan. Participation is completely voluntary and communities that choose to participate are agreeing to help identify and vet potential habitat restoration projects and community resiliency opportunities within their area. The plan includes a list of project opportunities. Communities are invited to share new and emerging project opportunities by completing the project submission form.
The development of the plan was an open and inclusive process. The partnership aimed to engage a wide variety of stakeholders – communities, businesses, state and federal agencies, academic institutions, environmental organizations, not-for-profits, and more — in the development of the plan. We plan to reach out to representatives from the business and transportation sectors and encourage their participation in executing the plan.
Habitat restoration is key to the long-term biological integrity and productivity of the Hudson River estuary. Successful habitat restoration in the Hudson will increase the health and diversity of the river, preserve the natural scenic beauty of the river and valley, increase recreational opportunities and ecosystem resilience of the river, and help surrounding communities during future periods of increasingly frequent and severe storms and sea level rise.
The Hudson River Comprehensive Restoration Plan will address natural and human community issues from the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge to the Federal Lock and Dam at Troy. Project implementation is ongoing and will continue continue for decades in order to achieve the restoration goals.
Habitats, and life that resides within them, interact constantly and in a variety ways. A variety of factors can influence these interactions. For example, too much sediment can reduce or eliminate plant growth and contaminants can alter the fish community. Too much or too little of one system component can influence these interactions leading to less than optimal conditions. Restoring ecosystem function refers to those actions that managers can take to optimize interaction between system components and develop a more productive and desirable condition.
A healthy Hudson River is the backbone of the economy in the Hudson Valley, and is essential to attracting and supporting business and a diverse workforce. Habitat restoration actions can help local economies by creating local, on-the-ground jobs. Industries that provide materials for the restoration can also benefit from the restoration projects as can businesses that supply services to people working on restoration projects.
A workgroup was formed in the fall of 2013 to identify ecosystem goals for the comprehensive restoration plan. The workgroup combined and consolidated relevant ecosystem goals from multiple existing programs including the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (NYSDEC) Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda and the NYSDEC’s Hudson River Estuary Habitat Restoration Plan. The projects relate to restoration activities, community infrastructure and access/education.
Technical assistance for planning and implementing restoration projects will be available to communities that do not have a capital project planned. In addition, communities that did not participate in the development of a plan will still have access to the scientific research on sea level rise and storm surge.