2023 NY-NJ HEP State of the Estuary Conference

2023 NY-NJ HEP State of the Estuary Conference

This year’s HEP conference focused on the changing conditions of our Estuary, learning what the best available data for 30+ indicators can tell us about our estuarine health and current environmental trends! The conference was hybrid once again this year with Day 1 in person at Central Railroad of NJ Terminal on November 28, 2023 and two virtual days on November 29 and 30. Our in person November 28th event was produced in cooperation with New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and hosted by Liberty State Park. Thank you to Liberty Landing City Ferry for providing free ferry service from Manhattan on the 28th.

Please find the 2023 agenda below. For access to session recordings from day 2 or 3, please contact zoe@hudsonriver.org

Welcoming Remarks

Speakers: Rob Pirani (HRF, NY-NJ HEP) and Shawn LaTourette (NJ DEP)

The conference began with an official welcome in person at Central Railroad of NJ Terminal on November 28.

Meeting the Moment: Federal Perspectives

Speakers: Joseph Seebode (NY District of USACE), Richard Balla (USEPA Region 2)

Moderator: Chris Daggett (NY-NJ HEP)

Joseph Seebode, Chief of Programs and Project Management for the New York District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Richard Balla from US EPA discussed recent federal initiatives addressing water quality, habitat, climate resiliency, port improvement, and equity goals with NY-NJ HEP Policy Chair Christopher Daggett.

State of the Estuary: Results and Reactions

Speakers: Isabelle Stinnette (NY-NJ HEP), Heather Gierloff (NY DEC), Chester Zarnoch (Baruch College, CUNY), Shannon Roback (Hudson Riverkeeper), Christian Murphy (Bronx River Alliance), Tenisha Malcolm (Urban Mayors Policy Center at John S. Watson Institute for Urban Policy and Research at Kean University)

Moderator: Jonathan Gramer (HRF)

After a presentation from Isabelle Stinnette (NY-NJ HEP) on the State of the Estuary Report, an expert panel gave their reactions to the State of the Estuary results. Various perspectives were featured, including land management, community, academia, and politics.

Poster Session

Poster presenters: Lesley Baggett (AKRF), Corinne Brenner (Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club), Amanda Flores (Baruch College, CUNY), Yuki Li (Fordham University), Chris Bowser (NYS DEC), Maija Niemisto (NYS DEC), Brian Wilson (Duro UAS), Rich Pendleton (Cornell), Beryl Kahn (The Graduate Center, CUNY), Anh Nguyen (Stony Brook University), Stephanie Arsenault (Stony Brook University), Richard Kane (Monmouth University), Jake Ortiz (Randalls Island Park), Jonathan Fong (Baruch College), Michaela Mincone (Hudson River Park Trust), Abigail Costigan (Stony Brook University), Lilia Ochoa (Rutgers), Asher Pacht (Clarkson’s Beacon Institute)

An in-person session allowed attendees to learn more about research in the Estuary from a variety of informative posters.

State of the Estuary: Break Out Discussions

Attendees participated in smaller discussion groups with other in-person conference attendees, focusing on the State of the Estuary results and talking about takeaways and what is most meaningful about the report from various partipants’ perspectives.

Lightning Talks: Highlighting Student Research in the Estuary

Speakers: Moonmoon Ahmed (Queens College, CUNY), Anh Nguyen (Stony Brook University), Kevin Chaikelson (NYC Audubon, Columbia University), Stephanie Arsenault (Stony Brook University), Beryl Kahn (The Graduate Center, CUNY), Richard Kane (Monmouth University), Jake Ortiz (Randalls Island Park), Jonathan Fong (Baruch College), Nicholas Russell (Queens College, CUNY), Kelsey Alvarez del Castillo (Cornell),

Moderator: Allison Fitzgerald (New Jersey City University)

During the first virtual session of the conference on Day 2 (November 29), students investigating topics relevant to (and taking place within) the Hudson River estuary gave quick summaries of their research. Virtual attendees participated in Q&A after the presentations. We learned about lots of great research and breakthroughs from our student researchers – the future of restoration, research, and policy in the estuary!

Examining and Addressing our Bias-Based Beliefs

Workshop leader: Paul Forbes (Leading with Hearts and Minds)

During this interactive and engaging workshop session, participants learned about implicit bias and how implicit bias manifests daily in our personal and professional life. This session was not recorded.

Cooling Urban Heat: Green Strategies for a Resilient Future

Speakers: James Shope (Rutgers), Candida Rodriguez (Groundwork Hudson Valley), Jeffrey Clark (Natural Areas Conservancy)

Moderator: Chris Girgenti (Randall’s Island Park Alliance)

This session examined the ways our communities are impacted by increasing  temperatures  and explored innovative approaches to combat the urban heat island effect. The discussion showcased current efforts happening across the region to identify our most vulnerable neighborhoods, reduce heat buildup in urban environments through street trees and natural areas, engage communities and make them more resilient in the face of climate change.

Navigating the Future: Addressing Environmental Performance in Our Ports and Neighboring Communities

Speakers: Bethann Rooney (The Port Authority of NY & NJ), Ian Gansler (American Association of Port Authorities), Daniel Birkett (EPA Region 2)

Moderator: Terrance Bankston (Friends of the Earth)

The last day of the conference began with this virtual session, which provided a comprehensive update on the current status of the NY/NJ Port Authority Master Plan [2050 Roadmap], offering insights into the proposed port expansion and ongoing sustainability initiatives and accomplishments. The session also delved into proactive actions that help encourage collaborative efforts with neighboring communities, including addressing the environmental impacts of port operations, workforce training programs, and other community engagement initiatives. 

Research Panel 1: Trends in our Aquatic Community

Speaker: Jason Adolf (Monmouth University), Siddhartha Hayes (Hudson River Park), Marley Kern (Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy), Christina Tobitsch (Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy), Sarah Trabue (Wildlife Conservation Society)

Moderator: Helena Andreyko (HRF)

Scientists from around the estuary shared their research on fish and marine mammals. 

Research Panel 2: What We Learn From Looking Back and Lessons for the Future

Speakers: Judith Weis (Rutgers), Dorothy Peteet (NASA/GISS and Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory), Terry Doss (NJSEA), Jennifer Bourque (Cornell and NYS DEC)

Moderator: Rupu Gupta (HRF)

Scientists from around the estuary shared their research looking at trends that span over 30 years.

Beyond the Basics: How to Enhance Your Internship Program with Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Justice Principles

Speakers: Ruthie Gold (Hudson River Sloop Clearwater), Robert Frawley (BioBus), Jonathan Phillips (Groundwork Elizabeth), Tina Walsh (Hudson River Park Trust), Beren Delgado (Groundwork Elizabeth), Zoe Kim (Hudson River Park Trust)

Moderator: Priya Ratanpara (NJ DEP)

Internship programs are valuable opportunities for both interns and organizations to learn, grow, and make an impact. But how can we ensure that our internship programs are diverse, equitable, inclusive, accessible, and just for everyone involved? In this talk, panelists shared experiences and lessons learned on ways internship programs can adapt so that they work for everyone. This engaging and informative talk helped attendees learn how they can transform their internship programs for a better future.

Hudson River Foundation