14-foot fish spotted in river, giving hope to vanished giant’s return

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National Geographic: One day last June, two researchers were towing a special sonar system up and down the Hudson River near Hyde Park, New York, the site of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home, when they saw something pleasantly shocking.

They were helping state biologists assess whether the spawning or foraging of a fabled and endangered bottom-feeding denizen, the Atlantic sturgeon(Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus), was being disrupted when commercial vessels dropped anchor in a spot designated as a waiting area to manage ship traffic.

The anchorage, established in 1999, happened to be located in a stretch of the Hudson that is one of the most important spawning grounds in its range along the coast from Florida through Canada’s maritime provinces. More anchorages were planned elsewhere in the Hudson….

The sonar revealed a sturgeon roughly twice as long as anything seen that day—confidently estimated at just over 14 feet from nose to tail tip. That’s a size that, even decades ago, even a century ago, was considered a rarity. But now, it was unimaginable given what this species had endured….

The debate over adding anchorages along the Hudson is on hold for now after fierce opposition from environmental groups and scientists, including a cautionary 2016 letter to the Coast Guard from Madsen and Fox, who’ve been doing surveys around Hyde Park for several years.

But any harm from dragging anchors would be just one of a host of far broader assaults on this species, and sturgeon worldwide, over the last century. Read more.

(Photo, Courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

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The Hudson River Named 2nd Most Endangered River in America

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Westchester Magazine: The Hudson River, namesake to an entire art movement and a central pillar of Westchester culture, has another distinction to add to its list: as of 2019 it is also the second most endangered river in the United States.

Every year, American Rivers releases its America’s Most Endangered Rivers report, weighing the significance of the country’s water sources against pending decisions that might impact their vitality within the next year, the severity of the threat, and the public’s ability to affect positive change. This year, for the first time in more than two decades, the Hudson River is included in this list, and in the second-highest spot.

The threat surprisingly comes not from pollutants or the contentious Indian Point nuclear facility, but from current plans by the Army Corps of Engineers to build surge barriers in and along the 315-mile river to manage storm damage. The goal is to prevent or mitigate destruction caused by extreme weather like 2012’s Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately, as residents might recall from the Coast Guard’s previous attempts to build anchorage sites throughout the Hudson several years ago, these plans do not always receive the backing of local residents or environmental groups. Read more.

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Amtrak Withdraws Fencing Plan along Hudson

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Amtrak has announced that it is withdrawing its plan to install gates and fences along the Hudson River shoreline. According to the Amtrak press release, the proposal will be revised “in conjunction with a five-year corridor plan to improve safety long the Empire Service Hudson Line.” Amtrak will work with state and local officials and affected communities as it formulates the revised plan. For more information, visit Gatesgate.org.

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Scenic Hudson, Germantown and Rhinebeck to host event on Amtrak’s proposal for new fencing and locked gates

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Amtrak has proposed new fencing and locked gates at crossings along the Empire Corridor South between Rhinecliff and Stuyvesant. Eventually, it plans to construct similar barriers at locations between Rensselaer and Poughkeepsie.

Amtrak’s project would eliminate public access to the Hudson River at places where people have launched boats, fished and hunted for generations. Residents of Castleton-on-Hudson have already lost access to their public waterfront park.

Scenic Hudson and the Towns of Germantown and Rhinebeck invite you to Balancing Passenger Rail Safety with Public River Access on Saturday December 15th from 10 a.m. to noon at  the Kellner Community Activities Center, 50 Palatine Park Road, Germantown, NY. Registration will begin at 9:30 a.m. with refreshments and networking.

The purpose of this event is for you to learn about Amtrak’s proposal for new fencing and locked gates at crossings along the Empire Corridor South between Rensselaer and Poughkeepsie. This project would eliminate public access to the Hudson River at places where people have launched boats, fished and hunted for generations. We look forward to sharing with you 21st Century approaches that better balance railroad safety with public access.

Following the program, you’ll have an opportunity to visit a nearby site where a proposed 700-foot-long fence would prevent generations of public access.

Please RSVP for the event here.

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USACE to hold hearing in Westchester about storm barrier proposal and impact on Hudson River

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Sen. Murphy press release: Albany, NY – When the United States Coast Guard announced an ill-conceived plan to establish 10 new anchorage sites for oil barges along the Hudson River, Senator Terrence Murphy led the charge that ultimately sank their proposal. When Entergy stunned the Hudson Valley with the news that they planned to close Indian Point by 2021, Senator Murphy led a bipartisan coalition of state, county, and local officials to secure $24 million in state funds to relieve the financial burden for residents in the area.

In early July, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) held a series of meetings to explore the impact of offshore barriers to protect the metropolitan region on storm surge flooding but failed to address sea level rise. They also neglected to hold any meetings in the Hudson Valley, despite it being the heart of the Hudson Valley Estuary. Senator Murphy made it his mission to see that the people most affected by the USACE’s actions would have a voice.

On Wednesday, October 3, the USACE, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and Westchester County Executive George Latimer will host two scoping meetings for the New York and New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries (NYNJHAT) Study. The meetings will be held at the Westchester County Center, 198 Central Avenue, in White Plains, with the first meeting from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. and the second from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.  But many say more needs to be done. Read MoreFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Scenic Hudson: New Study Details Oil Spill Risks on Hudson River

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New study provides first-ever comprehensive scientific analysis of risks to drinking water, habitats, riverfront communities. Report comes as U.S. Department of Transportation repeals rule requiring more efficient brakes on trains carrying crude oil, other flammable substances

HUDSON VALLEY—Polluted habitats and beaches spanning from Kingston to New York Harbor… Explosions causing significant human injury and fatalities… Toxic vapors that could pose serious health threats… A new scientific study of oil spill risks on the Hudson River evaluates the potential for disasters like these to occur.

Scenic Hudson commissioned Environmental Research Consulting (ERC), a leading expert in analyzing oil spill impacts and emergency preparedness, to undertake this first-ever Hudson River Oil Spill Risk Assessment (HROSRA). It is intended to provide stakeholders—including federal, state and local officials, spill responders, environmental groups and concerned citizens—with scientific data about the impacts a spill could have on drinking water, critical wildlife habitats, fishing and other recreational opportunities, and waterfront communities.

On September 24, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that it had repealed its rule mandating safety upgrades for trains carrying crude oil and other flammable substances. Under the rule, all trains bearing hazardous materials like these had until 2021 to install electronically controlled pneumatic brakes, which decrease the likelihood of derailment.  Read more.

(Photo: Tanker Sanchi Explosion in January 2018)Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Storm Surge Barriers: A threat to the very life of the Hudson & Harbor

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering several options for coastal storm protections in our region, and some of these options would have catastrophic consequences for the Hudson and New York Harbor. Specifically, storm surge barriers – giant ocean gates – would choke off tidal flow and the migration of fish – damaging the life of the Hudson River Estuary forever.

Scenic Hudson has a website page with links to the key documents and where to send your comments.  There’s also a page with some of the comments that have been submitted by public officials, journalists and members of the public, as well a list of government resolutions.Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Understanding the Behavior and Impact of a Hudson River Oil Spill

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Scenic Hudson: To further protect the Hudson River and lands surrounding it, Scenic Hudson commissioned the first-ever Hudson River Oil Spill Risk Assessment. It provides quantitative and qualitative information on the likelihood of oil spills occurring on the river, and gauges their potential economic, community and environmental impacts. The assessment also takes a comprehensive look at current spill-prevention measures and response preparedness, and offers strategies to improve them.

The Hudson River Oil Spill Risk Assessment provides both quantitative and qualitative information on spill threats that can be used for a variety of purposes, including, but not limited to:

  • assessing the efficacy of existing spill prevention measures
  • developing or evaluating the potential for new spill prevention measures
  • assessing the current state of spill response preparedness
  • developing or evaluating the potential for new spill response preparedness measures
  • assessing current spill contingency planning
  • developing new spill contingency planning measures

Many factors influence the harm an oil spill can cause to resources vital to the region’s public and environmental health. They include the trajectory of spilled oil, its chemical and physical properties, and when and where a spill occurs. To provide a realistic overview of possible outcomes, the assessment details 77 hypothetical spill scenarios in nine locations along the Hudson.  Read more.

(Photo: The team that created the Hudson River Oil Spill Risk Assessment was led by Dr. Dagmar Schmidt Etkin (third from left) of Environmental Research Consulting in Cortlandt Manor, and included Dr. Deborah French McCay and Jill Rowe of RPS Ocean Science, John Joeckel of SEAConsult and Dr. Andrew Wolford of Risknology, Inc.)Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail