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DEC announces availability of $1 million in grants to improve water quality, bolster resiliency in New York estuaries

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that $1 million in grant funding is available to help communities in eastern New York watersheds improve water quality, increase flood resiliency, and conserve natural resources. The Tributary Restoration and Resiliency grants, supported by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund, will fund projects in the Hudson River Estuary, Jamaica Bay, Long Island Sound, Peconic Estuary, and South Shore Estuary Reserve watersheds.

“To better protect our communities from climate change-driven severe storms and extreme weather, we must invest in local efforts to improve resiliency. The grants announced today support community-led planning for climate change’s ongoing impacts and create new opportunities to promote stronger ecosystems,” said Commissioner Seggos. “New York is undertaking the nation’s most ambitious climate law. With these grants from the State’s Environmental Protection Fund, New York will be supporting new projects to promote the restoration of herring, eels, and other vulnerable species throughout our estuarine watersheds.”

The grants are administered by the DEC and support local efforts to remove dams to restore aquatic habitat connectivity for American eel and river herring found in tributary streams of New York estuaries. The grants are also intended to help communities with existing and projected impacts of localized flooding along tributaries of the Hudson and marine estuaries by removing constrictions.

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New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) supports DEC’s 2022 Hudson River Estuary Grants Program for Tributary Restoration and Resiliency and Marine Habitat Tributary Restoration and Resiliency Grants. In the 2022-23 Executive Budget, Governor Hochul proposed increasing the EPF to $400 million, the highest level of funding in the program’s history. The EPF provides funding for critical environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, enhanced recreational access, water quality improvement, and an aggressive environmental justice agenda.

To be eligible for funding, projects must conserve and restore aquatic habitat connectivity for either the American eel and/or river herring found in the tributary streams of the watersheds, both of which are designated as Species of Greatest Conservation Need. In most cases, projects must also be designed to pass, at a minimum, a one percent annual chance storm (100-year flood) to promote flood resiliency. Priority will be given to dam removal projects near tidal waters, because of their importance for improving habitat for American eel and river herring. Eligible projects and geographic locations for these grants are detailed below.

Hudson River Estuary Program Grants ($500,000)

Applicants may apply for planning and engineering projects for dam removal and right-sizing of culverts affecting eel or herring migration in the estuary watershed. A map of identified and prioritized barriers is available at www.dec.ny.gov/lands/99489.html. The minimum grant award is $10,500; the maximum award is $150,000.

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Division of Marine Resources Marine Habitat Tributary Restoration and Resiliency Grants ($500,000)

Applicants may apply for planning and engineering projects for dam removal, construction of fish ladders, and right-sizing of culverts affecting eel or herring migration within the boundaries of the Long Island Sound watershed, Peconic Estuary watershed, South Shore Estuary Reserve watershed, and Jamaica Bay. The map of eligible boundaries is available at https://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/95483.html. The minimum grant award is $10,500; the maximum grant award is $150,000.

DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program and Division of Marine Resources 2022 Request for Applications for Tributary Restoration and Resiliency is available online through the New York State Grants Gateway at https://grantsgateway.ny.gov. The Grants Gateway is an online grants management system that streamlines the way grants are administered by the State of New York. All grant applicants, including governmental entities and not-for-profit corporations, must be registered in the Grants Gateway to be eligible to apply for any state grant opportunity. Not-For-Profit applicants are required to “prequalify” in the Grants Gateway system. Registration and prequalification information and forms are available online at https://grantsmanagement.ny.gov/.

General information about these grants is also available on DEC’s website at www.dec.ny.gov/lands/5091.html and https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/84428.html. Completed grant applications must be submitted online through the Grants Gateway by 3 p.m. on May 4, 2022. General questions about the Hudson River Estuary and Division of Marine Resources grants application process may be directed to Susan Pepe, Estuary Grants Manager, NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-3506; [email protected].

Now in its 20th year, the Estuary Grants Program implements priorities outlined in DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda 2021-2025. To date, the Hudson River Estuary Program has awarded 594 grants totaling $25.5 million. To view the Action Agenda and for complete details about the new grant funding, visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/5091.html on the DEC website.



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