Scenic Hudson

Climate Change Challenge

Sea level rise presents the most immediate climate change impact to the Hudson River Estuary ecosystem, with over 13,000 acres of freshwater and brackish tidal wetlands and vegetated shallow. These critical habitats support the region’s signature species and provide vital ecosystem functions to the entire estuary. Over 9,000 acres of riverfront lands lie within the expanding reach of daily high tides, threatening both the most critical river habitats and approximately 3,600 households and 6,900 people.

The Conservation Response

This facilitated adaptation to sea level rise along the Hudson River Estuary by creating new protected areas around key tidal habitats and their likely upslope migration pathways. Through a variety of private land acquisition strategies and land transfers, Scenic Hudson:

1) Conducted landowner outreach and land acquisition activities to protect up to 1000 acres of tidal wetlands and adjacent upland migration zones, facilitating their migration and transition due to sea level rise; and

2) Transferred 419 acres of privately owned tidal wetlands and intact upland floodplains to state protection.

In addition, Scenic Hudson and its partners, Cornell University and the NY Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program developed a Sea Level Rise Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) of tidal wetland migration/conversion that will project the future distribution of tidal habitats under multiple sea level rise scenarios. This model boosts the efforts to identify the most important migration zones, assess the vulnerability of individual tidal wetlands, and pinpoint the highest impact restoration opportunities.

Geography

New York

Hudson river valley from New York city up to Poughkeepsie.



Hurricane Sandy had unexpected impacts on Scenic Hudson’s work and proved to be a game-changing event in focusing attention on climate change and sea level rise impacts along the Hudson River corridor and across New York’s coastal zone. Waterfront communities suffering flood damage and unprecedented storm surges have now begun to accept and prepare for a “new normal”, where waterfront areas and development in the coastal zone are considered within the context of projected sea level rise and inundation.

At the state level, there has been a multi-agency push to identify and prioritize flood-prone lands and communities in the New York coastal zone. Scenic Hudson’s sea level rise projection maps were sent to the commissioner of NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, as well as top officials at the NYS Department of State Coastal Zone Program. The data is being used as the basis for creating a first-ever NYS Coastal Resilience Open Space Plan.

Grand Canyon Trust