DEC announces grants awarded to improve water quality, bolster resiliency in Hudson river estuary

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Grants will Help Hudson River Watershed Communities Remove Dams and Restore Habitat for American Eel and River Herring.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos has announced that more than $855,000 has been awarded to help communities in the Hudson River Estuary watershed improve water quality, increase flood resiliency, and conserve natural resources.

The grants will support projects that will help remove dams and mitigate culverts to restore aquatic habitat connectivity for the American eel and/or river herring that are found in tributary streams of the estuary.

The grants are also intended to help communities with existing and projected impacts of localized flooding along tributaries of the river by removing constrictions.

“New York is committed to restoring the state’s waterways, bolstering resiliency, protecting habitat, and creating stronger communities,” Commissioner Seggos said.

“Through the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, communities in the Hudson River Estuary will be able to support dam removals and other critical projects that promote sustainability and improve the health of the region’s fish, wildlife, and other natural resources,” he added.

Grant recipients listed by counties include Columbia, Orange, Rensselaer Counties Riverkeeper – $200,778; Reconnaissance for Priority Dam Removal Projects in the Hudson Valley to Improve Herring and Eel Passage.

Riverkeeper will evaluate at least nine priority dams on six tributaries of the Hudson River to determine if removal will improve water quality and restore connectivity for river herring and American eel.

These evaluations include investigating the dams’ history, identifying potential issues that may affect removal, researching dam ownership, conducting ecological evaluations of the streams, identifying target species, conducting preliminary sediment assessments, and creating partnerships and communicating with stakeholders.
Putnam County.

Open Space Institute – $113,800: Planning for Removal of the Sloan Dam
The Open Space Institute will complete planning and permitting for the demolition of Sloan Dam and a succeeding spillway and culvert on Arden Brook. Removal of these barriers will improve water quality, reduce the potential for flooding, and restore habitat for native species, including American eel.

The barrier removal also will enable the establishment of a natural wetland where a dam-created pond currently exists. Approximately 4,660 feet of stream on Arden Brook will be restored.

Ulster County
Town of Esopus – $430,200: Culvert Replacements/Right-Sizing
The town of Esopus will replace two undersized culverts at Dashville and Hardenburg roads, which were designated as priorities in the town and Ulster County’s recent road-stream crossing joint municipal management plan within the town’s boundary.

The stream crossing replacements will provide free-flowing conditions, restore aquatic connectivity, improve water quality, and reduce flood hazards. Mitigation of these culverts will reconnect 3.8 miles of a Walkill River tributary stream.

Westchester County

Hudson Valley Arts & Science – $110,840: Design and Permitting for Removal of the First Barrier to Fish Migration on the Sprout Brook
Hudson Valley Arts & Science will conduct engineering, planning, and permitting for the removal of a small, obsolete concrete dam on the Sprout Brook in the town of Cortlandt.

The dam is the first barrier to fish migration from the Hudson River tide line. Removing the dam will open the stream for migration by river herring and the American eel by restoring the stream bed to natural conditions.

Once this dam is removed, an additional 1.25 river miles will be restored on Sprout Brook, providing approximately 2.25 new acres for spawning fish.

Now in its 19th year, DEC’s Estuary Grants Program implements priorities outlined in the Hudson River Estuary

Action Agenda: clean water; resilient communities; a vital estuary ecosystem; estuary fish, wildlife and habitats; natural scenery; and education, river access, recreation, and inspiration.

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