News > News > Environmental groups laud House of Representatives’ passage of historic legislation to protect New York-New Jersey Watershed

Environmental groups laud House of Representatives’ passage of historic legislation to protect New York-New Jersey Watershed

U.S. Senate support is necessary for this new $20 million program to restore waterfront access and critical habitats in New York and New Jersey communities

Jeremy Cherson, Senior Manager of Government Affairs, Riverkeeper, 770-630-6790, jcherson(at)
Andy Bicking, Director of Government Relations and Public Policy, Scenic Hudson, 914-489-1568, abicking(at)
Greg Remaud, Baykeeper and Chief Executive Officer, NY-NJ Baykeeper, 732-768-6033, greg(at)

HUDSON VALLEY — A broad coalition of environmental organizations today congratulated US Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY) and New York and New Jersey’s delegations in the House of Representatives for passing the New York-New Jersey Watershed Protection Act. The legislation was included in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act and must now be considered by the US Senate.

“Our waterways are key economic, environmental and recreational engines for our communities,” Congressman Tonko said. “Despite this, our New York-New Jersey watershed—the most populated watershed in America—has been neglected without key federal investments that would serve our Capital Region and beyond. My legislation responds to that long-failed opportunity by providing federal support to facilitate local restoration projects that promote healthy ecosystems, increase coastal resilience, improve water quality, address the needs of communities facing environmental injustice, and increase public access across our historic watershed. I’m delighted to advance this legislation that will bolster this vital resource for our communities to enjoy now and for years to come.”

Congressman Tonko collaborated with the region’s environmental community for over a decade to refine and build support for the legislation that will make the federal government a stronger partner in protecting and restoring the watersheds that flow into New York-New Jersey Harbor — including the Hudson, Mohawk, Raritan, Passaic, Hackensack and Bronx River watersheds. The legislation authorizes $20 million to be invested annually through the US Fish and Wildlife Service in on-the-ground projects that will improve accessibility, habitat, climate resiliency and economic opportunity for the 15 million people living near them—and for all Americans.

Similar programs exist on other watersheds in the nation, but none for the rivers that flow into the New York-New Jersey Harbor. Advocates who supported the legislation note that it will allow communities in New York and New Jersey to benefit similarly to communities in the Chesapeake, Long Island Sound and Delaware watersheds, all of which have existing federal programs.

“The passage of the NY-NJ Watershed Protection Act in the House is a monumental step forward for the Hudson River. The program created by the bill will support projects that will help bring life back to our rivers—rewilding these areas through science-based restoration projects. It will support climate resilience, improve waterfront access, and environmental justice efforts. This support is essential, and long overdue. While other estuaries have received similar federal support for decades, the Hudson has missed out,” said Jeremy Cherson, Riverkeeper Senior Manager of Government Affairs. “Riverkeeper thanks Congressman Tonko and all our Congressional supporters for this investment in the Hudson’s future, and we look forward to working with our Senators to make sure the Hudson receives the federal funding it deserves.”

“The Hudson River and the watersheds of New York and New Jersey provide enormous economic and environmental benefits not just to the region but the entire nation. Along with supplying the country’s most densely populated regions with clean water, they host some of the busiest U.S. ports and provide opportunities for tourism and outdoor recreation,” said Andy Bicking, Director of Government Relations and Public Policy for Scenic Hudson. “The region’s natural resources are its foundation; they must be restored and cared for to ensure our safety and prosperity. Scenic Hudson congratulates Congressman Paul Tonko for his exceptional leadership in passing the NY-NJ Watershed Protection Act through the House of Representatives, and looks forward to working with Senators Schumer, Gillibrand, Booker and Menendez to pass it in the Senate.”

“The NY-NJ Watershed Protection Act presents a transformative opportunity for historic investment in urban restoration,” said Greg Remaud, CEO and Baykeeper, NY/NJ Baykeeper. “Investing in our shared waterways is vital to protecting our economic and environmental future and will put our region on par with several other watershed programs across the country. As we approach the first anniversary of Hurricane Ida, it has never been more urgent to accelerate efforts to help communities manage more frequent flooding events and the increasingly devastating impacts of the climate crisis. NY/NJ Baykeeper extends gratitude to House champions, particularly Congressman Tonko for his leadership. We look forward to working with our watershed champions in the Senate to get the bill across the finish line this session.”

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