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About "Waters We Share"

Our harbor.
     Our parks.
          Our habitat.
               Our livelihood.
                    Our fishing pier.
                         Our nature.
                              Our shipping channels.
                                   Our home.
                                        Our estuary.

Help us restore the waters we share.

Restoring the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary will create a mosaic of habitats — where nature and people coexist and where the environment and economy receive balanced consideration — providing us with all the benefits the estuary can offer.

Why Restoration is Needed

Because of the urbanization of the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, the physical habitats of the estuary have been lost or degraded over the years. Eighty percent of the region’s wetlands are gone, oyster reefs have been eliminated completely, and animal life and vegetation that thrive in shallow waters have nearly disappeared.

The New York-New Jersey region will continue to grow, as will the pressures on the estuary. Restoration must be incorporated into any planning efforts to ensure that ecological needs are balanced with human, commercial, and industrial needs.

Having a single, overarching plan helps reduce overlap between programs, encourages cooperation, and leads to efficient, cost-effective solutions. The result will be a healthy estuary for the enjoyment of the 20 million people who live here.

The Restoration Plan
(Note: A PDF of the entire Comprehensive Restoration Plan is available in our "Resources" section.)

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. It’s a plan to protect and preserve those habitats that still exist and restore habitats that have been lost.

The CRP centers around eleven Target Ecosystem Characteristics. They are the “ecological goals” in the plan — keys to a healthy estuary and essential for successful restoration.

Projects aimed at accomplishing the various target goals will be implemented throughout eight geographical planning regions with measurable objectives for 2015 and 2050. Some targets focus on specific habitats; others on the interconnectedness of the habitats; while still others address support structures for the estuary, contamination issues, and societal values.

The creation of the Plan is the first of many steps that will support a thriving estuary for our community. The CRP is a guide for the many collaborators to determine specific restoration projects within the estuary. Having a single plan ensures that the most critical parts of the ecosystem are targeted and reduces redundant efforts.

In order to achieve the restoration goals, the New York-New Jersey Estuary needs

  • Substantial funding from numerous sources;

  • Time (to reach 2015 and 2050 milestones);

  • Cooperation among many agencies and organizations;

  • Regional partnerships that move beyond political boundaries to focus on the estuary;

  • Active support from officials and citizens.

The Benefits

The Comprehensive Restoration Plan is a step forward in creating a healthier, safer, and more enjoyable environment for us all.

Restoration of the estuary will

  • Protect and improve water quality;

  • Enhance natural beauty and provide open space and recreational opportunities;

  • Revitalize and create habitats for plants, fish, and wildlife, and increase biodiversity in the region;

  • Control flooding;

  • Prevent eroded soil from smothering underwater habitats;

  • Improve sediment quality and reduce fish contamination;

  • Decrease the cost of disposing dredged material from the port.

For detailed information on the benefits of restoration, click here for a PDF version of a poster on The Harbor Estuary Restoration Plan, which features the 11 Target Ecosystem Characteristics that guide the Comprehensive Restoration Plan. These targets represent what is desirable and achievable and focus on the specific habitat types, support structures, and public health and social values that are key to a healthy estuary. The poster includes a detailed look at these 11 targets, the plan for carrying them out, and the positive impact they will have for future generations.

How You Can Get Involved

We all share the responsibility to preserve the estuary. Restoration efforts, especially efforts as ambitious as the ones described here, can be costly. They will require commitment and funding from multiple sources — government programs and grants, large donors, local municipalities, workplace giving programs, and much more.

Your help is needed ...

  • Contact your elected officials to voice your support for the restoration plan.

  • Volunteer in one of the eight planning regions (see PDF of poster for more details | click here).

  • For more information, contact us at habitat@harborestuary.org.

Comprehensive Restoration Plan Nomination FAQ:
What does it mean to nominate a site for restoration or acquisition?

  • Use this form to nominate a new site for restoration or public access for the Comprehensive Restoration Plan | PDF

  • And, for more about how to use the Open Accessible Space Information System to locate current sites, please refer to this form | PDF

Note: Please direct any questions about the nomination of a new site to habitat@harborestuary.org. For comments regarding the Hudson-Raritan Estuary Comprehensive Restoration Plan, the Feasibility Study of this plan, or to request a hard copy, please send to hre-plan-comments@usace.army.mil.

Q: What is the significance of listing a site in the Comprehensive Restoration Plan (CRP)?

A: Nominating a site to the CRP list is a tool to recognize a site’s current or potential habitat or public value, making it more visible to the restoration community.

Q: How are nominated sites reviewed?

A: Listed sites will be collected and then evaluated by the Harbor & Estuary Program’s Restoration and Public Access Working Groups. These groups include representatives from multiple agencies and non-governmental organizations, with a range of expertise. The nominating party may be asked to have a conversation with these groups about their site as part of the review process. Upon approval, the nominating party will be notified and the site added to the map and database. Feasibility of the project will be determined on a case-by-case basis if a site is pushed forward for restoration by a funding party.

Q: Does listing a site mean that it will be restored or protected?

A: Listing a site in the Comprehensive Restoration Plan represents an agreement between Harbor & Estuary Program partners about which sites are a priority for restoration, protection, or acquisition. The CRP list is intended to be an inventory of opportunities for future harbor restoration activities by multiple state, federal, and non-governmental agencies. The listing process will allow the Restoration Working Group to take a more active role in coordinating and advancing restoration, access, and protection with municipalities and other stakeholders within the Estuary. The New York-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program, for example, devotes annual funds towards restoration based upon the CRP’s Target Ecosystem Characteristics. Additionally, the list will provide guidance and highlight opportunities for current and potential federal cost-sharing of restoration projects. For example, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will use the CRP as a basis for potential partnering with other public or private groups through its Civil Works Program. Further, one of the recommendations of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Hudson-Raritan Estuary Feasibility Study will be the establishment of a programmatic authority that would allow proposing and evaluating individual projects based on merit and relative contribution to the overall program objectives.  In this manner, each restoration site could be implemented through a cost shared program administered by the Corps.

Q: Can I list someone else’s back yard as a restoration site?

A: The list of nominations is a goal for habitat restoration, and was approved as such from a habitat perspective. The list currently does include privately-owned sites, but no restoration will be able to occur on those sites without the owner’s interest and consent in restoration occurring on their property.

Q: Is there a different permitting protocol for restoration projects under the CRP?

A: No; the inclusion of a site on the CRP list in no way exempts it from applicable permits or regulatory review by appropriate federal, state or local agencies.

"The Waters We Share" is a collaborative effort developed by the New York-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program,
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
and the US Army Corps of Engineers - New York District.
Photo credit in masthead: c. Don Riepe, American Littoral Society

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