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Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study

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DESCRIPTION:  The study area includes 140 miles of the Hudson River Federal channel from the Tappan Zee Bridge to the federal lock and dam at Troy, NY.  The reconnaissance study completed 30 April 1996 found there was federal interest for proceeding with the feasibility level analyses for navigation improvement measures and aquatic ecosystem restoration measure, including evaluation of eroding shorelines, degraded fish and wildlife habitat, impediments to fish passage, and flooding control measures.    

AUTHORIZATION:  Section 551, Water Resource Development Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-303)  

STATUS:  A feasibility cost-sharing agreement (FCSA) for $4,048,000 was executed in 1996 with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) and New York State Department of State (NYSDOS) serving as non-federal sponsors.  A total of $987,772 had been expended on restoration planning efforts to select several sites for detailed investigation. In 2001, the sites which were evaluated to be restored were found to be no longer available for construction.  In addition, the feasibility study was suspended due to lack of consensus on path forward and delays in non-federal sponsor funding.   

In April 2012, HQUSACE proposed close out of the feasibility study.  In response, NYSDEC Commissioner Joseph Martens requested that the study be resumed (July 2012). The sponsors’ renewed interest resulted from the recommendations of the Hudson Raritan Estuary Feasibility Study and the publication of the Comprehensive Restoration Plan.  NYSDEC’s intent is to complement the restoration plan prepared for the lower Hudson River in the upper 140 miles above the Tappan Zee Bridge to the Troy Dam.  

The local sponsors, NYSDEC and NYSDOS, formed the “Partners Restoring the Hudson” with more than 30 organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, Hudson Riverkeeper, and Scenic Hudson, with overwhelming support to advance the study.  The Nature Conservancy has provided the leadership for the Partners and has been the designated facilitator for the effort. The partners have released the Hudson River Comprehensive Restoration Plan in August 2018 which describes establishes regional restoration goals, Target Ecosystem Characteristics (similar to the Hudson Raritan Estuary TECs) and identifies restoration opportunities.   

The New York District had worked closely with the Partners’ restoration planning efforts in order to resume the Feasibility Study.  The New York District and Partners, with support from the Congressional Delegation, were successful in resuming the Feasibility Study as federal funds were appropriated via the FY 2016 Work Plan.  The Study was included in the FY18 and FY19 budget providing all funds for completion.   

Following study resumption, FY17 activities included the development of restoration goals and objectives, evaluation of baseline conditions and identification of restoration opportunities.  A total of 1800 restoration opportunities were identified through Geographic Information System [GIS] analysis and nomination during numerous municipality outreach meetings hosted by TNC, ”Partners Restoring the Hudson” and NYSDEC.  Sites were screened using criteria including presence of contamination, real estate/ownership and site complexity.  In addition, sites linked to past USACE actions and impacts (i.e. navigational dredging) were given higher priority. Thirteen sites (several original sites were combined due to proximity and connectivity) were selected for further evaluation and alternative development including restoration of side-channels, wetlands, aquatic organism passage (AOP) and streambanks.  The Alternatives Milestone was held in July 2017.   

FY18 activities included field reconnaissance (September and December 2017) at 12 sites.  Eight Sites including Binnen Kill, Rattlesnake Island, Schodack Island (side channels/wetlands/mosaic habitat), Rondout Creek and Moodna Creek (AOPs), Albany Shorelines, Henry Hudson Park and Charles Rider Park (shoreline restoration) will be evaluated further.  Site specific baseline field investigations (including ecological functional assessments, shoreline profiles and tide data) were completed in June 2018 followed by the prepration of additional alternative development in July and August 2018.  Subsequent engineering designs, quantification of benefits and cost, and Cost Effectiveness/Incremental Cost Analysis is planned for fall.  The Tentatively Selected Plan (TSP) milestone is scheduled for 17 December 18 followed by release of the Draft Integrated Feasibility Report/Environmental Assessment 8 March 2019. 


Go to http://thehudsonweshare.org/ for more details.


STUDY COST 

Total Estimated Study Cost: $4,715,000 

Reconnaissance Study (Federal): $525,000 

Feasibility Phase (Federal): $2,195,000 (Post Resumption- $ 1,700,000 [includes $200,000 for Independent External Peer Review]) 

Feasibility Phase (Non-Federal): $1,995,000 (Post Resumption- $1,500,000)   

 

CONTACT  

Lisa Baron, Project Manager

Programs and Project Management Division, Civil Works Branch

E-mail:lisa.a.baron@usace.army.mil

tel: (917) 790-8306   


CONGRESSIONAL INFORMATION 

Senator Charles E. Schumer (NY) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY); Representatives Nita Lowey (NY-17), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), John Fasso (NY-19) and Paul Tonko (NY-20)   


Current as of August 2018