Blogs > Ecology > NY-NJ Watershed Protection Act: An opportunity for historic federal investment in Hudson River restoration

NY-NJ Watershed Protection Act: An opportunity for historic federal investment in Hudson River restoration

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Photo: CC, National Parks Service
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Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge

Photo: CC, National Parks Service

In 2022, we have a chance to invest in the Hudson River’s recovery like never before. 

The New York – New Jersey Watershed Protection Act, introduced by Congressman Paul Tonko, would authorize $50 million a year in federal funds to protect and restore the Hudson-Raritan watersheds. This grant program, facilitated by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, would support essential and long overdue projects in habitat restoration, flood management, protection of drinking water supplies, community access to waterfronts, environmental education and recreation.

It’s a chance to put into action the plans that Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson and numerous government agencies and partners have collaborated on – including the Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda and Mohawk River Basin Action Agenda, developed by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, and restoration plans developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Hudson lacks this level of investment, even while we see such efforts succeeding in Long Island Sound, Chesapeake Bay, and the Great Lakes.

Thankfully, almost every member of Congress in the Hudson River watershed has signed on as a cosponsor of the landmark New York – New Jersey Watershed Protection Act. Hundreds of Riverkeeper supporters wrote to their representatives in just a few weeks, and helped make this happen. Riverkeeper and our allies are working diligently to secure a primary sponsor in the U.S. Senate, a necessary step on the bill’s path to the White House. In the House of Representatives, the next step is a legislative hearing in the House Committee on Natural Resources in 2022.

Versions of this bill have been proposed in Congress for at least 10 years, first introduced by the late Congressman Maurice Hinchey, and this is the farthest it’s ever gotten.

Federal funding is needed to help supercharge existing science-based plans within the watersheds that flow into New York-New Jersey Harbor, including the Hudson, Mohawk, Raritan, Passaic, Hackensack and Bronx rivers. These projects will help iconic species like American shad, bluefish, striper and American eel rebound, and halt the decline of our wetlands, streams and floodplains so that these ecosystems and the species that rely on them can thrive once again. And, this bill can help tackle environmental justice issues and safeguard drinking water for the public.

We still have a ways to go, and we hope you’ll be there to help out every step of the way.

Download and share a fact sheet about the bill (PDF).

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