New York’s “Revive Mother Nature” Initiative Set to Restore Marine and Freshwater Habitats Statewide

Christopher Owen

This month, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the nation’s most comprehensive statewide habitat and water program. He said “New York is acting now to protect our environment and take care of our natural resources.” The new program will restore wetlands and waterways, make substantial investments in New York’s 12 fish hatcheries to increase the state’s populations of freshwater sportfish like trout and salmon, restore oysters in New York harbor over the next decade and double the current shellfish restoration initiative in Long Island. By restocking millions of native shellfish, the Governor hopes to improve and protect water quality, support the fishing industry and build stronger coastlines. 


Recently, thousands of oysters were deposited in the Hudson River to help restore New York City water. These are the first of millions of oysters to be reintroduced in New York. Oysters offer key environmental benefits including filtering up to 30 million gallons of water per day, removing nitrogen and building oyster reefs which buffer coasts from waves, reducing erosion and creating calmer waters to support the growth of the coastal marshes. The government of New York State is working with a group of partners such as The New York Harbor Foundation, The New York Harbor School, The Billion Oyster Project, and others. The project will provide hands-on learning opportunities for surrounding schools and communities to learn about marine science and environmental conservation. It will also create openings for high paying and rewarding careers in marine science, technology, and engineering. 


In Long Island, the Governor’s restoration project is expansive and includes planting millions of juvenile and adult clams and oysters in five shellfish sanctuary sites including Bellport Bay, Hempstead Bay, Huntington Harbor, Shinnecock Bay, and South Oyster Bay. The goal is to improve water quality through filtration, mitigate harmful algae blooms, restore native shellfish populations, increase biodiversity and bolster the economics and resiliency of coastal communities. New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation is working with Cornell Cooperative Extension, Stonybrook University and municipalities on this project.


These projects, along with the ban on off-shore drilling along New York’s coastlines and the increased use of renewable energy from wind and solar power, are environmental conservation efforts by New York State under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act to address some of the problems, like greenhouse gas emissions, creating climate change.