News > News > NYC Waterways > Riverkeeper will join Hudson River Park Estuarine Sanctuary planning effort to advance new program for habitat restoration and research 

Riverkeeper will join Hudson River Park Estuarine Sanctuary planning effort to advance new program for habitat restoration and research 


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Group applauds plan for $30.7 million in funding for the Estuarine Sanctuary and the Cuomo Administration’s support for continued habitat restoration & research spending.

Ossining, N.Y. — The office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has invited Riverkeeper to help incorporate a proposal for $134 million in habitat restoration and research funding into the official Management Plan for the Hudson River Park and Estuarine Sanctuary.

The invitation to Riverkeeper to join the “Technical Advisory Committee” responsible for creating the Estuarine Sanctuary Management Plan came in a May 24th letter from Deputy NYS Secretary Venetia Lannon to Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay. That letter also describes $30.7 million in funding for estuary-related improvements, including $11.7 million in new spending for shoreline habitat restoration, creation of oyster habitat and other underwater habitat improvements to the Park’s pilings and bulkheads. Deputy Secretary Lannon’s letter also throws the state’s support behind a bold new proposal to implement $134 million in additional restoration and research projects in the Park Sanctuary in future years.

Riverkeeper Board Chair Joe Boren observed that the commitments put forward by the State in Deputy Secretary Lannon’s May 24th letter “represent the best opportunity for real and sustained habitat improvement and advancement of scientific research in the Hudson River Park since its creation in 1998, for which Riverkeeper thanks the Cuomo Administration and the Hudson River Park Trust.”

“Riverkeeper looks forward to working with the State, the City of New York, the Hudson River Park Trust, the Hudson River Foundation and the other members of the Restoration and Research Technical Advisory Committee to establish a robust new estuarine sanctuary management plan that will foster major investments in habitat restoration and research in the sanctuary,” said Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay. “We thank New York State for inviting Riverkeeper to take such a significant role in this planning process.”

The Hudson River Park is a joint New York State and City collaboration that extends from 59th Street south to Chambers Street in the borough of Manhattan. Its 550 acres stretch along 4 miles of the river, making it Manhattan’s second biggest park, after Central Park. Besides its riverside parkland, the Hudson River Park also incorporates the Hudson River Park Estuarine Sanctuary, which comprises over 400 acres of critical in-water habitat.

Ernest Tollerson, Riverkeeper’s board Secretary and a staunch advocate for greater funding for habitat restoration and research in the Hudson River Estuarine Sanctuary, observed that the sanctuary is “an integral but often-overlooked area within the Hudson River Park, which is now finally getting its due.”

New York State’s new, comprehensive commitment to habitat restoration in the Hudson River Park Estuarine Sanctuary, as described in Deputy Secretary Lannon’s May 24th letter to Riverkeeper, includes:

  • Support for a proposal developed by the Hudson River Foundation in December 2017 to incorporate a series of restoration and research projects, with an estimated total cost of $134 million, into the Hudson River Park’s official Estuarine Sanctuary Management Plan.
  • An immediate commitment to $30.7 million in capital spending for Estuarine Sanctuary-related projects. At least $11.7 million of this spending will go to projects included in the Hudson River Foundation’s December 2017 habitat restoration and research proposal.
  • An invitation to Riverkeeper to participate in the process by which the Park’s Estuarine Sanctuary Management Plan is being updated, by joining the “Restoration and Research Technical Advisory Committee” in charge of finalizing the plan.

Mr. Gallay’s May 30th response to Deputy Secretary Lannon’s letter can be found here.

Clay Hiles, Executive Director of the Hudson River Foundation, said, “Supporting the advancement of science and resource protection in the Hudson River Park Estuarine Sanctuary has long been a priority of the Hudson River Foundation. We look forward to working with the extensive community of scientists, government officials and resource managers, the Hudson River Park Trust, Riverkeeper and other environmental leaders, to realize a plan that will be a model for science-based environmental restoration and protection.”

The state’s commitment to immediate and long-term habitat restoration and research initiatives also resolves Riverkeeper’s concerns in connection with the proposed Pier 55 project, a 2.7-acre park and performance space to be located on the Hudson at West 13th Street. In his May 30 letter to the Governor’s office, Riverkeeper President Gallay observes that the commitments found in Deputy Secretary Lannon’s Letter will be sufficient to compensate for the likely environmental impacts of the Pier 55 project. Gallay’s letter goes on to offer Riverkeeper’s assistance to the State and the Park in connection with the Pier 55 project.

The $30.7 million in capital investments committed to by New York State are:

  • $10.2 million in new commitments to restore shoreline habitat at Gansevoort Peninsula in the Meatpacking District, the former site of numerous sanitation facilities;
  • $1.5 million in new commitments for oyster and other habitat restoration. The funding will be used to restore habitat, the create habitat corridors, and enhance the ecological function of pile fields, piers and bulkheads;
  • $10 million for the construction of the Estuarium at Pier 26. In partnership with Clarkson University, the River Project and others in the environmental and research communities, the Estuarium will serve as the centerpiece of the park’s estuary education and research program. And;
  • $9 million for the “Pier 26 Ecological Get Down,” a wetlands creation and education project to bring visitors closer to the water with three ecological zones — a rocky intertidal pool and a lower and upper marsh with intertidal plantings.


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