February 2021
WATERSHED DIGEST
monthly newsletter
Update from the Hudson River Watershed Alliance
Breakfast Lecture: Particle Association, Turbidity, and Enterococcus Persistence
Thursday, February 11, 8:30-9:30 AM


Featured Speaker: Elise Myers, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory

Sewage-derived microbes impact water quality and human health. Sewage-derived pathogen risks are typically monitored by measuring concentrations of fecal indicating bacteria (FIB), like Enterococcus sp. Particle association and turbidity influence the persistence and transport of FIB in complex ways. Elise has been exploring enterococci persistence across a wide range of water body conditions, from turbid to clear water, and from still to turbulent. Join us at Thursday’s Hudson River Watershed Alliance breakfast session to hear what this could mean for future water quality management and research.
COVID-19 Wastewater Surveillance at Siena College
Tuesday, February 23, 6:00-7:00 PM


The Hudson River Subwatershed and Tributary research network (THuRST) and the Hudson River Watershed Alliance present a new Student Research Speaker Series!

Cassidy Hammecker (‘22), Jason Golden (‘22), and Dr. Kate Meierdiercks from Siena College will describe Siena’s COVID-19 wastewater surveillance program, and how lessons learned from this program could be helpful for watershed communities aiming to implement their own wastewater surveillance programs.

Did you miss the presentation by Gabriella DeGenarro (Marist College) on microplastic hotspots in Hudson Valley waterbodies? A recording of the webinar is available here.
Work on Watersheds
Emily Vail from the Hudson River Watershed Alliance presented "Work on Watersheds" at the Town of Rochester Environmental Conservation Commission's 3rd Thursday Nature Series. Emily shares why watersheds are so important, along with success stories of local watershed groups from on our Work on Watersheds report. A recording of the presentation is available on our YouTube channel here.
Hudson Valley Environmental Justice Coalition
Thursday, February 18, 5:30-6:30 PM


Sachem Hawkstorm, hereditary sachem (chief) of the Schaghticoke People, will join Rev. Dr. Gregory Simpson for a moderated conversation.

Sachem HawkStorm is a fierce advocate for the rights of his people as well as other indigenous peoples in the New York region and beyond. He is an advocate for environmental justice and the preservation of indigenous land and waters. His work focuses on cultural heritage, education, and tribal sovereignty.

The Hudson Valley Environmental Justice Coalition brings nationally-recognized figures to local audiences to speak about environmental justice and the environmental crisis. Hudson River Watershed Alliance is a member of the HVEJC.
Black History Month
February is Black History Month. The environmental movement has had a long history of environmental injustice and racism, and we need to acknowledge that history to move forward in a way that is more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and just.

If you're looking for resources to learn more about environmental racism and history, Michael Finewood, Pace University and Hudson River Watershed Alliance board member, has compiled a list of materials that's available here. The list includes articles, podcasts, and a video. We encourage you to read, listen, watch, and reflect on this history over the course of the month. (Let us know if you hit a paywall and need a copy of the article.)
Still of Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali from the Hudson Valley Environmental Justice Coalition's conversation with him in October 2020.
Watershed Highlight
New Paltz Community Preservation Fund
The Town of New Paltz's Community Preservation Plan was developed in 2020, and identifies priorities for conservation. The plan is available here.
Map of water resource focus areas from the Town of New Paltz's Community Preservation Plan. Water resources were one of seven focus areas detailed in the plan.
Outreach for the Town of New Paltz's community survey to learn about community priorities for conservation.
Findings from the Town of New Paltz's community outreach survey. 97% of respondents felt that clean water was important or very important to conserve.
Slide from the Community Preservation Task Force presentation to the New Paltz town board on July 16, 2020, showing how water resource priorities were developed.
Photo of great blue heron in New Paltz's Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary by Steve Stanne.
In November 2020, the Town of New Paltz approved resolutions for a Community Preservation Plan and a Community Preservation Fund. A Community Preservation Fund, or CPF, provides dedicated funding for conserving land that protects clean water, forests, wetlands, farmlands, scenic views, historic sites, and other community priorities. Municipalities that have CPF authorization must create a Community Preservation Project (CPP) Plan, which is adopted by the town. A Community Preservation Plan is similar to an open space inventory and plan. 

New York State Legislature provides the authorization for municipalities to create a CPF. Five towns in Long Island established the first CPF in New York State in 1998. In the Hudson Valley, authority has been requested and granted to all towns in Putnam, Ulster, and Westchester counties through the Hudson Valley Community Preservation Act (CPA) of 2007, which was amended in 2019 to add Ulster County. 

The towns of Chatham in Columbia County; Fishkill, Northeast, and Red Hook in Dutchess County; and Warwick in Orange County have also been granted authorization through Section 64 of the NYS Town Law. A bill that would expand CFP authorization statewide is currently in committee in the New York State Senate.

Funding for a Community Preservation Fund is generated through a Real Estate Transfer Tax, which must be approved by voters through a public referendum. Those funds go directly to the municipality to conserve natural resources.

Municipalities in Ulster County were granted authorization through the Hudson Valley Community Preservation Act in late 2019. The Town of New Paltz quickly began working on developing a CPF in 2020. They received a Hudson River Valley Greenway Grant to develop the Community Preservation Plan, and received technical support on the process from Scenic Hudson, the Trust for Public Land, and The Nature Conservancy. They have posted resources and materials about the CPF on their website here.

New Paltz’s Community Preservation Task Force conducted a survey to learn about the community’s priorities for conservation. This tool became especially important when Covid-19 hit, and in-person outreach was not an option. They launched the survey in March 2020, and promoted it through direct mail to a random selection of residents, email, and social media. In total, they received over 500 responses. Clean water consistently ranked as high priority, with 97% of respondents indicating that protecting clean water was important or very important. Survey results are available here.

New Paltz already had a number of plans and geographic information on which to draw, as well as local committees that were invested in the process. These included the Town Environmental Conservation Board, the Clean Water Open Space Protection Commission, the Historic Preservation Commission, and other interested volunteers.

The New Paltz Community Preservation Plan assessed natural resources on each parcel in the town, and developed key resources into targets for conservation, including clean water. The Community Preservation Task Force presented the plan at several virtual town board meetings during this process. The plan was completed in July 2020, and is available online here.

The Community Preservation Plan and associated laws, which created the fund, an advisory board, and a law specifying the real estate transfer tax, had to be adopted by July for the real estate transfer tax to be put on the ballot for voter referendum in November 2020. New Paltz’s laws are posted online here. Each municipality that creates a CPF needs to pass these local laws, in addition to having authorization through the New York State Legislature. 

Once the local laws were adopted, the Task Force created a campaign to explain the benefits of the CFP to residents, including protecting drinking water and waterbodies like the Wallkill River. They worked with the local newspaper and local partners to educate the community. They answered frequently asked questions about the plan and process in a PDF document, which is available here.

The Real Estate Transfer Tax (RETT) provides funding to preserve clean water, working farms, natural areas, and historic properties. The RETT is a property tax paid by the people who are buying property, rather than the people who already live in the community. It provides a way for new residents to invest in the community and protect natural resources, which is likely one of the reasons they want to live there. 

In New Paltz, the RETT is a 1.5% tax with a $245,000 exemption paid at time of closing by the buyers of properties in New Paltz. This new law went into effect on February 1, 2021. The exemption is set at the median value of homes in Ulster County, and updated each year. The goal of this exemption is to not burden first-time or lower income homebuyers. A fact sheet with frequently asked questions on the RETT is available here.

On February 23 from 1-2:30 PM, the Hudson River Estuary Program will present a Conservation and Land Use 101 webinar on Open Space Inventories and Plans to introduce the basics of developing these plans. More information and registration online here. The NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program also has more information on conservation financing options, including Community Preservation Funds, on their website here.
Opportunities
JOB POSTINGS:

Rockland Conservation & Service Corps: Conservation Corps Member applications due April 4 (rolling)

Rockland Conservation & Service Corps (RCSC) is now recruiting Corps Members for the summer of 2021. RCSC is a summer internship program that provides members with a wide range of hands-on training and experience, leadership and networking opportunities, and professional development in the environmental field. It's a full-time, 350-hour commitment from June until mid-August. 50 hours of training, 50 hours of community projects and 250 hours of direct service at a nonprofit or municipal host site. All members receive a stipend of $2,300 for the summer. 


Housatonic Valley Association: River Steward internships (rolling)

Housatonic Valley Association is seeking applications for their 2021 River Stewards internship program. River Stewards will work on a variety of projects related to water resource management and outreach. Positions are available in Connecticut and Massachusetts.


FOR STUDENTS:

Hudson River Environmental Society: McKeon Research Grant applications due February 8

The McKeon Research Grant is available for High School, Undergraduate and Graduate student research on environmental issues in the Hudson Valley. Grants of up to $1,000 will be given to help defray the cost of summer field work.


GRANTS:

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation/Environmental Facilities Corporation: Wastewater Infrastructure Engineering Planning Grant applications due February 12

Grants are available for municipalities to help pay for the initial planning of eligible Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) water quality wastewater projects. Successful applicants will use the grant to finance engineering and planning services to produce an engineering report. The goal of the Engineering Planning Grant program is to advance water quality projects to construction and future implementation funding through the CWSRF program, Water Quality Improvement Project grants, or other funding entities. The EPG is administered by DEC and the Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) and made available through the Governor's Regional Economic Development Council Consolidated Funding Application.


NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation: Green Innovation Grant Program applications due February 12

Through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process, the Green Innovation Grant Program (GIGP) supports projects across New York State that utilize unique stormwater infrastructure design and create cutting-edge green technologies. The GIGP will provide up to $17 million in grant on a competitive basis to projects that improve water quality and mitigate the effects of climate change through the implementation of one or more of the following green practices: Green Stormwater Infrastructure, Energy Efficiency, and Water Efficiency. 


Lower Hudson Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM): Proposals for invasive species management due February 22

The Lower Hudson Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) is now accepting applications for the 2021 calendar year that help us complete objectives in our annual action plan. Approximately $100,000 is available for management and outreach activities related to invasive species in the Lower Hudson valley of New York. Up to $20,000 is available per project.


NYS Urban Forestry Council: Quick Start Grant applications due February 26

The NYS Urban Forestry Council is pleased to announce available funding for communities to hold a 2021 Arbor Day tree planting event and to establish a community-based forestry program. Funding has been provided by the USDA Forest Service. Communities can apply for up to $1,000. The intent of this grant is to help municipalities establish a community forestry program and move toward becoming a Tree City USA Community. 


NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Program: Trees for Tribs applications due March 1

Trees for Tribs offers free native trees and shrubs for qualifying planting projects in the Hudson River estuary watershed. If you own or manage property near a stream in the Hudson estuary watershed, you can apply for assistance from Trees for Tribs. Applicants must complete an application and if the project is selected, recruit volunteers for planting, and maintain the site after the planting is complete. Program staff may also be able to assist with plant selection, designing a planting plan, and other technical assistance to help your project succeed. The application deadlines are March 1 for a planting in spring, and August 7 for planting in the fall. We strongly encourage you to apply before the application deadline, especially if you have a large site or you want to request specific plant species.
The Hudson River Watershed Alliance unites and empowers communities to protect their local water resources