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Hudson River Ecosystem

Among the Park’s most precious and unique assets is its 400-acre Hudson River estuarine sanctuary. Designated by New York State in 1998, the Hudson River Park’s estuarine sanctuary and the ecological abundance it supports have informed virtually every aspect of the Park’s planning and operations, such as how to communicate the river’s vital ecological role to everyone from school children to the general public, how to protect this precious resource, and how to make the experience of water as direct as possible for the millions of visitors to Hudson River Park every year.  

The Hudson Estuary is one of the most significant estuarine habitats in the United States. Estuaries occur where fresh water from the land meets salt water from the ocean, resulting in a dynamic nutrient-rich habitat with high biodiversity. The Hudson River waterfront began as the Ice Age receded and melting glaciers transformed the Hudson River gorge into a large estuary. The Hudson River, which spans 315 miles from its source in the Adirondack Mountains, is considered to be a tidal estuary for approximately half of its length -- from where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean at the lower tip of Manhattan north to Troy. Hudson River Park’s waters are home to numerous species of fish, crustaceans and invertebrates. Each species contributes in its own unique way to the ecology of the Park’s estuary and helps in turn to maintain the balance of life within Hudson River Park. 

Estuarine Sanctuary Management Plan

Trust staff, in collaboration with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, is responsible for establishing and enforcing an Estuarine Sanctuary Management Plan to guide decision-making and maintenance practices with the potential to affect the Park’s estuarine sanctuary waters. The ESMP was developed with the help of various public, government and cooperating organizations and agencies. It identifies management policies for the estuarine sanctuary with respect to resource protection, public access and recreation, education, and research activities. It provides guidance on balancing the needs of these various park purposes and also identifies procedures for monitoring and enforcing park policies, laws, and regulations to manage and protect the Hudson River and the Hudson River Park Estuarine Sanctuary. 

Hudson River Park’s Estuarine Sanctuary Management Plan Base Plan Objectives

  • Resource Protection: Respect the importance of the Hudson River’s ecological health by preserving, and, where possible, enhancing the marine habitats of the Estuarine Sanctuary.
  • Public Access and Recreation: Build and operate a park that maximizes public access to the Hudson River – both visually and physically – while protecting the Estuarine Sanctuary’s natural resources.
  • Education: Capitalize on the Estuarine Sanctuary’s combination of important ecological values and prime regional location by promoting awareness, understanding, and stewardship of the Hudson River for the millions of visitors who enjoy the Park each year.
  • Research: To promote research that will increase knowledge and understanding of the Hudson River, with principal intent of improving the ecological values of the Estuarine Sanctuary and the Hudson River Ecosystem.    

Hudson River Park  --  An Urban Oasis of Wildlife Habitat

With three-quarters of Hudson River Park’s total 550 acres occupied by the river and the remaining 150 acres home to an impressive variety of trees, grass and gardens, the Park provides a productive habitat for a variety of wildlife both in the water and out.  Explore these links to learn more about the Park’s vital role is creating and preserving wildlife habitat!