HRF and HEP Publications
Progress Report: Restoring the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary 2017-2019
Presented at HEP’s 2019 Restoration Conference: Lessons Learned for a Changing Future, this report addresses the achievements made by the HEP Restoration Work Group Partners between 2017 and 2019, and overall progress towards the 2020 and 2050 goals.
Environmental Projects in Urban Areas: Analysis to Support Project Planning and Budgeting for the US Army Corps of Engineers
Boyd, J. and Shabman, L., 2019.
Leonard Shabman and James Boyd from Resources for the Future were asked by the Hudson River Foundation to identify the analytical and institutional practicality of developing restoration evaluation criteria that places greater emphasis on restoration’s social (ecosystem service) benefits. Their report investigates the US Army Corps of Engineers project planning and budget justification practices for dredge material handling, inclusion of natural and nature-based features in storm reduction projects, and aquatic ecosystem restoration, asking why Corps planning and budgeting practices do not currently consider ecosystem services benefits, such as water quality improvement and recreation. Shabman and Boyd propose methods to cost effectively report on a wider array of benefits that might be used in Corps budget decision making and by government and non-government organizations that pay a share of the cost of Corps projects. The results will be used by the Foundation and its partners in the New York- New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program to inform research needs and project justification.
Benthic Infaunal Communities and Sediment Properties in Pile Fields within the Hudson River Park Estuarine Sanctuary
Taghon, G.L., Petrecca, R.F., and Fuller, C.M. 2018. Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
A core mission of the NY-NJ Harbor & Estuary Program, along with the Hudson River Foundation, is to advance research to facilitate the restoration of more, and better quality, habitat. Pile fields are legacy piers that have lost their surfaces and exist as wooden piles sticking out of the sediment. Pile fields have been extolled as good habitat for fish. There is no definitive answer, however, as to why and how fish and other estuarine organisms use the pile fields. The project and results described in this report address a small portion of that larger question by assessing if the structure of the benthic community may have some bearing on how the pile fields are used as habitat. Benthic infauna, the invertebrates living in bottom sediments, were the focus of this project.
Opportunities to Advance Wetlands Migration Pathway Protection
HEP commissioned an assessment of regional knowledge, activities, needs, and opportunities related to the protection of pathways for tidal wetlands to advance inland as sea level rises. These pathways are a cornerstone of tidal wetlands conservation and resilience, and necessary to maintain the ecosystem, economic, and community resilience services these wetlands provide. This report summarizes findings from interviews with 22 coastal researchers, environmental conservation leaders, and public agency officials who have been involved in coastal resilience at the municipal, county, state, and federal levels in the HEP region.
Climate Change Effects on Water Quality and Biota
Climate change is impacting the health and biological integrity of the New York – New Jersey Harbor Estuary. Rising average air and water temperatures, more frequent and extreme weather events, and steadily rising sea levels are already changing baseline conditions and affecting the Estuary’s aquatic habitats and biota. The magnitude of these ecological changes is expected to increase in the future. The New York – New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program (HEP) has identified gaps in understanding these projected Increases in temperature as a key vulnerability of its program to meet goals for fish survival and reproduction. The objective of this review is to summarize existing research on potential impacts of projected temperature and precipitation changes on estuarine biota (with emphasis on fish survival and reproduction) in NY/NJ Harbor Estuary, including changes in dissolved oxygen, harmful algae blooms, and other parameters.
2017-2022 Action Agenda
This new NY-NJ HEP report identifies five long-term goals, 17 objectives, and 40 specific actions that will help enable people and wildlife to benefit from the fishable and swimmable waters called for by the Clean Water Act.
2018 State of the Estuary Report
The State of Estuary Report compiles the best available data for 31 indicators selected by scientific and technical experts convened by the New York – New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program (HEP). Where possible, this scientific information is used to illuminate long-term (roughly 30 years) and shorter-term trends, providing a broad assessment of progress toward HEP’s goals of improving water quality, habitat, public access, maritime operations, and community engagement.
2018 Environmental Monitoring Plan
Fifty-one indicators, selected by scientific and technical experts convened by the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program (HEP), can help us understand and document progress towards improvements in water quality, habitat, public access, maritime use, and community engagement. To help coordinate these monitoring efforts, improve data analysis, and make data available, HEP has produced an Environmental Monitoring Plan. This new HEP monitoring plan identifies the kinds, sources and spatial coverage of available monitoring data collected in the estuary, including data on water quality and fish and wildlife.
Climate Change And its Impact on the New York/New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program
This new report assesses how the risks associated with climate change stressors such as rising sea levels, warmer air and water temperatures, and increases in extreme weather will impact estuary management. The report was prepared to gain a greater understanding of how the risks associated with climate change stressors will limit the ability of HEP to reach its goals for reducing pollution, improving and increasing habitat and public access, supporting maritime uses, and engaging communities.
Options for Funding Program Priorities
This report describes 28 potential funding sources to broaden the depth and breadth of funding available for implementing the HEP Action Agenda. The purpose of this document is to explore a wide range of potential funding sources in order to broaden the depth and breadth of funding available for implementing the HEP Action Agenda and realizing the shared goals for the Estuary. It is intended to serve as a basis for discussion among HEP partners to identify and advance the best candidate funding sources upon which to move forward.
Preliminary Evaluation of the Physical Influences of Storm Surge Barriers on the Hudson River Estuary
Storm surge barriers are being evaluated by the Corps of Engineers as an option for flood risk reduction for the New York City metropolitan area under the New York/New Jersey Harbor & Tributaries Focus Area Feasibility Study. The decision of whether or not to build surge barriers to protect one of our nation’s main commercial hubs and ports, crossing one of our most iconic estuaries, is a major decision worthy of thorough analysis of potential impacts. Storm surge barriers have the potential to cause large‐scale changes to the Hudson River estuary ecosystem. This report, commissioned by the New York ‐ New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program and the Hudson River Foundation, presents a first look at the possible direct influences of hypothetical surge barriers on physical conditions in the Hudson River estuary.
Planning and Technical Support for Incorporating Green Infrastructure in Long Term Control Plans
This work will help Perth Amboy and its partners advance a variety of green infrastructure projects as part of its Long Term Control Plan (LTCP). The report is intended to inform the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, New Jersey CSO and Harbor Dischargers Groups, Jersey Water Works, and other stakeholders in the LTCP process as to what might be an ambitious and realistic target for balancing green and gray infrastructure. NJ DEP, like the federal EPA, has recognized green infrastructure as an important part of an integrated solution to water management. With two representative study areas within the City of Perth Amboy as a subject, this study demonstrates the potential effectiveness that GI can have in reducing the amount of stormwater entering the combined sewer system.
Tappan Zee Bridge Oyster Restoration Pilot Study Final Report
Lodge, J., R. Grizzle, K. Ward, P. Malinowski, and K.M. Smith. 2017. Hudson River Foundation, New York, NY.
The Hudson River Foundation conducted a 3-year pilot study in partnership with the University of New Hampshire and the Billion Oyster Project under the direction of AKRF, Inc. and the New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA). The study was intended to inform the design of the Tappan Zee Bridge Oyster mitigation project by providing information on the performance of three potential restoration substrates at three potential restoration sites.
Restoring the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary - Progress Report (2014-2016)
Progress Report – Restoring the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary (2014-2016). This report addresses the achievements made by the HEP Restoration Work Group Partners between 2014 and 2016, and overall progress towards the 2020 and 2050 goals.
Hudson-Raritan Estuary Comprehensive Restoration Plan
Under the authorization of Congress in 1999, the US Army Corps of Engineers and The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey facilitated the development of the Comprehensive Restoration Plan (CRP). It was created collaboratively by scientists, professionals, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and environmental advocates with the assistance of the Hudson River Foundation. The plan is a blueprint to protect those habitats that still exist and restore habitats that have been lost. Following a draft version in 2009, the final CRP was released in 2016. The Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study is advancing implementation a number of specific restoration projects.
Plan contents, including an executive summary, technical companion report, and progress report can be found on the Hudson-Raritan Estuary Comprehensive Restoration Plan page.
Connecting with Our Waterways: Public Access and its Stewardship in the New York - New Jersey Harbor Estuary
This 2016 Report characterizes public access and its distribution around the Harbor Estuary, the relationship of these parks and public spaces to socioeconomic need, and where and how civic organizations are providing stewardship and programming at the waterfront.
Development of a Protocol to Assess the Relative Habitat Values of Urban Shorelines in New York – New Jersey Harbor
Reid D.J., E.K. Bone, M.A. Thurman, R. Newton, J.S. Levinton and D.L. Strayer. 2015. Development of a Protocol to Assess the Relative Habitat Values of Urban Shorelines in New York – New Jersey Harbor. Prepared for the Hudson River Foundation and New York – New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program, New York. pp. 169.
This study was the initial step in the development of a protocol to provide a standardized and ecologically meaningful assessment of the relative habitat values of urban shorelines varying in physical habitat complexity across New York – New Jersey Harbor.
Two States – One Bay: A Bi-state Conversation about the Future of Raritan Bay
The Two States: One Bay conference, convened on June 12, 2015 by the Sustainable Raritan River Initiative (SRRI) at Rutgers University and HEP, brought together more than 200 representatives from federal, state and local governments, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and businesses to focus on Raritan Bay. During plenary and working sessions where regional and bi-state issues and cooperation were the primary focus, conference participants examined the key topic areas of water quality, climate resiliency, habitat conservation and restoration, fish and shellfish management, and public access. This report identifies the insights and opportunities raised at the conference, including possible strategies to address ongoing bi-state challenges to ensure the stewardship and vitality of Raritan Bay.
Community Based Restoration of Oyster Reef Habitat in the Bronx River: Assessing Approaches and Results in an Urbanized Setting
This project continued and expanded on the previous smaller-scale multi-site effort of the Oyster Restoration Research Project (ORRP). Project partners focused on the development of general protocols for shallow subtidal oyster reef restoration in the New York Harbor region where natural reefs and recruitment of native eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) are uncommon. The primary aim of the multi-year (2012 -2014) effort was: (1) the construction; (2) monitoring; (3) involvement of community partners; and (4) development of novel methods.
Contaminant Assessment and Reduction Project Summary Report
The Contamination Assessment and Reduction Project (CARP) brought together federal, state and non-government partners in a determined effort to reduce contamination within the NY/NJ Harbor Estuary. This CARP Summary Report provides a brief overview of all the data and modeling results conducted under CARP from 1999 through 2006. The report is meant to serve as a reference tool and roadmap to the more detailed information found in the numerous technical reports, data archives, modeling reports and research papers.
Working Together to Improve the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary: Contributions by Partners of the NY-NJ Harbor & Estuary Program
Oyster Restoration Research Project Final Technical Report
This report describes the results of the Oyster Restoration Research Project (ORRP) Phase I (2010-2012) studies to assess development (oyster retention, growth and survival) and performance (water filtration and habitat provision) at five experimental reef sites (Bay Ridge Flats, Governors Island, Hastings, Soundview and Staten Island). This report also provides an assessment of where additional efforts should be focused and questions that need to be answered. Because the constructed experimental reefs essentially replaced the habitat that existed at the time of construction, there is a need to understand these changes on the broader ecosystem.
The State of the Estuary 2012
The State of the Estuary 2012 report was produced by the New York-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program (HEP) in partnership with the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC). This 2012 report showcases the environmental health and trends of the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary, focusing specifically on living resources, pollution, climate change, and public access.
Total Maximum Daily Load Reports
Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) are developed by each state for all waters identified on their Section 303(d) list of impaired waters. TMDLs determine the maximum pollutant load allowed to enter the waterbody and continue to meet water quality standards. To view reports about TMDLs developed by the Water Quality Work Group, go to the TMDL page:
Rapid Assessment of Habitat and Wildlife Losses from Hurricane Sandy in the Hudson Raritan Estuary
Immediately following Superstorm Sandy, the Hudson River Foundation, in partnership with Queens College, conducted a survey of resource managers, academics, representatives from NGOs, and knowledgeable private citizens to assess the impacts of Sandy on fish and other species within and around the Hudson Raritan Estuary, including tributaries and watersheds of the Hudson and Raritan Rivers.
Harbor-Wide Water Quality Monitoring Report for the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary
This report was developed under the auspices of the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program (HEP), and is the collaborative effort of many partners. This is the second report in what HEP envisions to be a series of water quality trend assessments for the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary. The data analyzed for this report include fecal coliform, Enterococcus, and dissolved oxygen, and focus on the data collected in 2007-2009. Long term monitoring programs, such as that of the City of New York, have documented dramatic improvements in water quality since implementation of the Clean Water Act began in the 1970s. With significant new investments in wastewater treatment and combined sewer infrastructure, HEP believes it is prudent to monitor the influence of these projects on ambient water quality, and to expand the monitoring to include all of the Harbor waters.
Fish Passage Feasibility Evaluation of the Rahway River Water Supply Dam in Rahway, New Jersey (NJ)
Under a grant provided in 2007 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) New York – New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program (HEP), Weston Solutions Inc. (Weston®) has prepared this report focusing on recommendations and data gaps identified during the Final Preliminary Fish Passage Feasibility Evaluation for the Rahway River Water Supply Dam, Rahway, New Jersey completed in March 2006 (Weston, 2006). The objective of this evaluation was to conduct continued assessment of the feasibility of anadromous and catadromous fish passage at the Rahway Water Supply Dam in Rahway, NJ. The study indicated that while there are hurdles to the potential installation of a fish ladder at the Water Supply Dam location, the project is generally feasible.
Harbor-Wide Water Quality Monitoring Report for the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary
This report was developed under the auspices of the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program (HEP), and is the collaborative effort of many partners. This is the first report in what HEP envisions to be a series of water quality trend assessments for the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary. The data analyzed for this report include fecal coliform, Enterococcus, and dissolved oxygen, and focus on the data collected in 2004-2006. Long term monitoring programs, such as that of the City of New York, have documented dramatic improvements in water quality since implementation of the Clean Water Act began in the 1970s. With significant new investments in wastewater treatment and combined sewer infrastructure, HEP believes it is prudent to monitor the influence of these projects on ambient water quality, and to expand the monitoring to include all of the Harbor waters.
Regional Sediment Management Plan:
This 2008 plan helps coordinate various stakeholders involved in sediment management to control sources of sediment and contaminants, reduce dredging needs and impacts, promote beneficial use of dredged material, and restore a healthy ecosystem.
2007 HEP Program Update
Since it was signed in 1997, HEP has been implementing its Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) for the estuary. This 2007 Overview summarizes the region’s main environmental issues, highlights the important roles of HEP and discusses the significant work that still must be accomplished.
New York City Audubon Society’s Harbor Herons Project: 2007 Nesting Survey
This report summarizes wading bird, cormorant, and gull nesting activity at 17 islands and one mainland colony, and discusses population changes in New York/New Jersey Harbor since 2004. A total of 1,846 nests of nine species of wading birds (Black-crowned Night-Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Glossy Ibis, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, and Green Heron) were located on ten islands.
Harbor Herons, Cormorants, and More Current Research and Future Planning
Proceedings of the Greater New York/New Jersey Harbor Colonial Waterbirds Working Group. This document presents a workshop on harbor heron research and presentations.
Target Ecosystem Characteristics for the Hudson Raritan Estuary: Technical Guidance for Developing a Comprehensive Ecosystem Restoration Plan
Bain, M., J. Lodge, D.J. Suszkowski, D. Botkin, A. Brash, C. Craft, R. Diaz, K. Farley, Y. Gelb, J.S. Levinton, W. Matuszeski, F. Steimle and P. Wilber. 2007. Hudson River Foundation, New York, NY.
The Hudson River Foundation completed this report as part of a collaborative effort to develop a scientific basis for a comprehensive ecosystem restoration plan for the Hudson Raritan Estuary (HRE). This Comprehensive Restoration Plan was part of the federal HRE ecosystem restoration study and was sponsored by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The Hudson River Foundation, working with a group of top estuarine scientists, identified a set of 11 important ecosystem attributes for the NY/NJ Harbor Estuary, specifying the desired conditions and amounts for each, called Target Ecosystem Characteristics.
Setting Targets for Restoration of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary Report of an Interdisciplinary Workshop
Bain, M., D. Suszkowski, J. Lodge, and L. Xu. 2006. Cornell University and the Hudson River Foundation.
An interdisciplinary workshop with scientific experts and agency representatives was conducted in 2005 to develop candidate objectives to guide restoration planning. The workshop was structured to generate target ecosystem characteristics (TECs) to serve as program objectives. TECs are the broadest planning element defined in measurable terms and the precise ecosystem conditions to be promoted in restoration projects. The workshop succeeded in developing many (23) and varied ecosystem targets.
Guide to Harbor Herons and Other Colonial Waterbirds of the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary
In the hustle and bustle of the NY-NJ Metropolitan region, it is all too easy to forget that our homes and workplaces are built atop a series of islands and peninsulas – and surrounded by an estuary where fresh water from rivers meets the salt water of the ocean. Scattered across this urban archipelago are many smaller islands, where the most prominent inhabitants are a surprising number of birds known as the Harbor Herons. This guide showcases the harbor herons that live in our urban landscape.
The Health of the Harbor Report
Steinberg, N., D.J. Suszkowski, L. Clark, J. Way. 2004. Hudson River Foundation, New York, NY.
The Hudson River Foundation prepared a report in 2004 for the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary Program which showed that scientific measures of the environmental health of New York Harbor had improved as much as ten-fold in the preceding 30 years. The Health of the Harbor Report – the first comprehensive look at the environmental conditions of the estuary – examined trends by tracking key environmental indicators over time and across the harbor.
Harbor Health/Human Health: An Analysis of Environmental Indicators for the NY/NJ Harbor Estuary
The health of the NY/NJ Harbor Estuary and the health of the more than 20 million people who live near it are inextricably related. Contaminants that enter our waters tend to bioaccumulate in fish and shellfish, sometimes causing warnings about their consumption to be issued. High levels of bacteria in the water can cause shellfish beds
and beaches to be closed to human use to prevent people from getting sick. In this 2002 analysis, HRF and HEP reported on trends in environmental indicators that are related to human health. Temporal and spatial trends are assessed as the existing data allow, and references to go to for further information are listed.
Highlights of Program Accomplishments and Challenges for the Future – Report by the CAC and the STAC
This document was part of a larger effort to re-energize the Harbor Estuary Program. The purpose was to take stock of progress, re-evaluate the program objectives, set targets for restoration of the estuary and determine the future direction for the program. The Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) and the Science and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) of the HEP ensure that the voices of the public and the scientific community are considered in the management of HEP and the implementation of the CCMP.
PCBs in the Upper Hudson River: The Science Behind the Controversy
Baker, J.E., W.F. Bohlen, R. Bopp, B. Brownawell, T.K. Collier, K.J. Farley, W.R. Geyer, and R. Nairn. 2001. Hudson River Foundation, New York, NY.
The Hudson River Foundation assembled a group of independent scientific experts to examine the scientific record with regard to key issues in the debate about active remediation of PCBs in the Upper Hudson River. The Foundation’s intention in undertaking this effort was to provide, to the extent possible, clarification of the scientific information pertinent to a policy decision regarding dredging. In light of both the expertise and independence of the authors and the importance of the issue that they have addressed, their report deserves serious consideration.
New York-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program Final Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan
The 1996 Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan was a comprehensive plan for the New York-New Jersey Harbor and the New York Bight watershed on a regional scale. The CCMP discusses challenges that HEP faced to achieve its goals, including: habitat loss; public involvement; toxics contamination, pathogens, and floatables; dredged material management; non-point source runoff, storm water, and combined sewer overflows; and nutrient and organic enrichment.
Assessment of Historical Phytoplankton Characteristics and Bloom Phenomena in the New York Harbor Estuarine and New York Bight Ecosystems
Cosper, E.M. and J.C. Cerami. 1996. Coastal and Environmental Studies, Inc. Bohemia, NY.
This report documents multiple historic datasets for phytoplankton characteristics and bloom phenomena in New York, ranging from 1975 to 1995.
Final New York Bight Restoration Plan
The New York Bight Restoration Plan (NYBRP) was authorized by the Marine Plastic Pollution Research and Control Act (MPPRCA) of 1987. The New York Bight is defined as the Atlantic Continental Shelf waters off Long Island, NY and New Jersey. The study area also includes the Hudson-Raritan Estuary. The purpose of the study was to investigate pollution problems affecting human health and the marine environment, and to propose remedies to those problems.
Fish and Wildlife Populations and Habitat Status and Trends in the New York Bight
Sullivan, J.K. 1991. Dynamac, Inc. New York Bight Restoration Plan, Phase III Report.
This report had two objectives: (1) to describe trends in abundance or production of key fish, shellfish, marine mammal, and bird species in the Bight region; and (2) to characterize important habitat areas and values, and to indicate trends in the condition and extent of these habitats. Except for certain habitat types (e.g., tidal wetlands), published information on habitat trends was generally unavailable.
Synthesis of Information on the Distribution of Benthic Invertebrates in the Hudson/Raritan System
Cristini, A. 1991. Ramapo College, Mahwah, NJ.
The purpose of this report was to assist in the development of a management plan for the Harbor Estuary ecosystem with an environmental monitoring program. This report summarized the extant data at the time on benthic community structure and on the effects of toxic chemicals to the benthic invertebrates. This project was one part of a group of “characterization studies” supported by the EPA for the first year of what was known at the time as the Hudson Harbor Estuaries Program.
Nearshore Wildlife Habitats and Populations in the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary
Squires, D.F. and J.S. Barclay. 1990. University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.
This 1990 report reviewed the status of nearshore habitats and wildlife, assessed the changes in wildlife and habitat which had occurred, and made preliminary observations and recommendations which contributed to the objectives of conservation and restoration. The general objectives identified for this program module were to provide a baseline of information on the condition of the Estuary with regard to living terrestrial vertebrate resources and their habitats; and to identify valued wildlife habitats for future preservation or enhancement.
Hudson River Estuary Maps
Three Hudson River Estuary maps are available in PDF format: a map of the Hudson River with all the tributaries leading to it; a map of the Hudson River with the main tributaries; and a map of the main stem Hudson River.