Prized by residents and visitors for its scenic beauty and recreational opportunities, the Hudson River represents one of North America’s truly iconic landscapes. Its productive lands and waters provide habitat for more than 200 fish species and 19 rare bird species. A tapestry of diverse habitats, including five globally rare tidal freshwater wetlands, add to the region’s significance. The millions who visit each year enjoy hiking, fishing, wildlife watching, and boating and support a $6.1 billion regional recreation and tourism industry.
Beyond its boundaries, the Hudson River and its estuary contribute to Atlantic Coast fish populations by serving as a nursery ground for fish that migrate among other estuaries, bays and off-shore areas. Striped bass, Atlantic sturgeon, shad and herring all spawn in the estuary and many of these young fish travel to the Delaware Bay, the Chesapeake Bay, and Long Island Sound.
With a long human history dating back 400 years, cumulative effects of habitat alteration, pollution and urban development have caused negative impacts to the river including degraded habitats, hardened shorelines, reduced floodplains and the decline of a once splendid fishery. Water quality improvements have been a success story on the Hudson over the last few decades. Despite these improvements, problems including plummeting shad and herring populations, failing stormwater and sanitation infrastructure and shallow-water habitat loss persist. These problems are likely to worsen with rising sea levels and other extreme weather events like frequent and severe storms. Active protection of the Hudson River’s natural areas is critical to maintaining the beauty, quality of life and economic sustainability of the region.
The Nature Conservancy seeks to create a restored Hudson River that sustains the vitality of the Hudson Valley’s natural and human communities into the future. To achieve our vision, we need a clearer picture of today’s estuary, a set of priorities to guide future actions and investments in the Hudson River and its shoreline and strong public-private partnerships. We are actively working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York State, local communities and leading non-profit organizations to meet these needs. Our actions take three forms:
Achieving long-term success in carrying out this ambitious and far-reaching set of priorities will need support from donors who treasure the Hudson River. Catalyzing our progress into restoration and resiliency for the Hudson will involve investments in science, communications, facilitated decision-making, and the engagement of additional stakeholders.August 26, 2013