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Riverkeeper awarded $245,000 DEC grant for planning dam removal

Riverkeeper awarded DEC grant for dam removal

Photo: Erica Capuana, NYS DEC Division of Fish and Wildlife
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For Immediate Release: August 18, 2017

Contact: Leah Rae, Media Specialist
(914) 478-4501, ext. 238; lrae@riverkeeper.org

Photo: Erica Capuana, NYS DEC Division of Fish and Wildlife

Ossining, NY — Riverkeeper is the recipient of a $245,233 grant from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program for planning dam removal. The grant will strengthen the organization’s efforts to help restore natural habitat for fish such as American eel and herring, whose historic upstream migration is disrupted by artificial barriers, many of which are poorly maintained or no longer useful.

Riverkeeper will partner with DEC’s Barrier Mitigation Team to reach out to the owners of dams and other stream barriers and educate the public on the benefits of converting waterways back to their natural state. The grant is part of a DEC program that provides nearly $1 million in grants to improve water quality and bolster flood resiliency in the Hudson River Estuary.

With this grant, Riverkeeper will work on several levels to contribute to the restoration of natural habitat for fish, amphibians, and other species in the Hudson River Estuary. Riverkeeper will use the funds for planning, outreach, communications, and advocacy to promote fish passage and mitigate the damaging effects of barriers.

Like hundreds of waterways across the United States, the Hudson River and its tributaries are impacted by a wide variety of manmade barriers (1,500 dams, more than 10,000 culverts), some crude, others more sophisticated. Many have long outlived their original intent and now serve only as impediments for the river’s fish life, particularly in this case river herring, American eel, white sucker, and yellow perch. Recent studies show that 10 of the 13 key Hudson River fish species have declined in abundance since the 1980s. Removing dams is critical to restoring spawning habitat for these species and the abundance of life in the Hudson.

Riverkeeper, DEC, and the City of Troy had a resounding success in 2016, when the Wynants Kill dam was removed in South Troy after a collaborative effort. Within five days, fish that had been kept out for more than 85 years (including herring, eel, alewives and more) returned to the creek. Riverkeeper’s goal is to replicate that success by continuing to move up and down the river eliminating barriers wherever possible. Riverkeeper continues to highlight the success of the Wynants Kill dam removal as a model of collaboration between a city municipality, a state agency, and a non-profit organization in restoring fish habitat through barrier removal.

Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay thanked the DEC, saying: “With this critical support, Riverkeeper will be able to make a significant impact on restoring fish habitat in our great river and its many tributaries. We are so appreciative of this partnership with the Hudson River Estuary Program and are excited to begin work on this important project.”

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