Priority Habitats


The presence and condition of Hudson River habitats has a bearing on water quality (and for some, drinking water), storm protection, shoreline erosion, recreational fisheries (and any future commercial fisheries), recreation, and the quality of our communities.

The habitats listed below are designated as priorities because it is feasible to restore them on a meaningful scale, and their restoration will improve the health and resiliency of the Hudson River estuary ecosystem.

Click below to view descriptions of our four priority habitats:

  1. Tidal/Intertidal Wetlands

  2. Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) and Shallow Water Habitats

  3. Riparian Buffers and Floodplains

  4. Tributary Connectivity and Barriers

Tidal/Intertidal Wetlands

The intertidal wetlands of the Hudson River Estuary are important feeding and refuge areas for wildlife, especially resident and migratory birds, including many species of wading birds, ducks and geese. Tidal flats also protect adjacent lands by dispersing wave impact and slowing the river’s currents that can erode shorelines.

Intertidal habitats also provide habitat to a host of species from diminutive plants such as American waterwort to small marsh fish, such as the banded killifish to the largest predatory bird, the bald eagle, which thrives on fish from the Hudson.

  • Restoration Goal: The quantity and quality of tidal/intertidal wetland habitats is increased to support habitat, scenery and water quality functions.

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) and Shallow Water Habitats

Shallow habitats with SAV beds play a vital role in improving water quality by increasing oxygen in the water and producing food energy for the ecosystem. They also serve as essential feeding and refuge habitat for many species and life stages of fish, birds, turtles and invertebrate animals and are thought to be the richest feeding grounds in the estuary for many fish. A comparison of historic maps and current conditions shows that more than 2,800 acres of shallow water areas have been lost in the upper third of the estuary alone (Catskill to Troy).

  • Restoration Goal: Increase extent to approach previous coverage and enhance mosaic of shallow water and submerged aquatic vegetation habitats for benthic animal, fish, and bird habitats and water quality.

Riparian Buffers and Floodplains

The vegetated areas connected to the estuary protect the estuary from nonpoint source pollution and provide stabilization to its banks and habitat for fish and wildlife species.

  • Restoration Goal: Riparian habitats including floodplain forests, non-tidal wetlands and marshes that are connected to the Hudson River estuary and its tributaries are protected, enhanced, restored and increased to support habitat, scenery and water quality functions.

Tributary Connectivity and Barriers

Tributaries are important habitats for a diverse community of fish and wildlife throughout the Hudson River estuary watershed. They deliver water and transport nutrients and sediment from the surrounding landscape to the estuary while providing habitats for resident and migratory fish. Man-made barriers such as dams and improperly sized or placed culverts can prevent fish from reaching fertile and productive habitats critical to their long-term survival.

  • Restoration Goal: Tributaries’ natural channel conditions and connections to the upland watershed support aquatic life and natural sediment transport regimes.