The resiliency investment under the $3 billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act will include but not be limited to the uses outlined below.
New York will establish a Conservation Corridors Program to restore critical habitats for fish and wildlife. This program will restore up to 10,000 acres of freshwater wetlands, including 5,000 urban wetlands, establish riparian buffers for resilience, and reconnect or replant 10,000 miles of stream habitat. The program will also restore natural floodplains and upgrade aging dams, including removal of those that are obsolete. Most habitat restoration projects will also provide nature-based solutions to reduce the flooding that plagues 19 communities across the state. In addition, Restore Mother Nature will provide funds to upgrade flood control infrastructure, protect critical facilities, and move people and homes out of harm’s way.
As part of the Bond Act, New York will invest in its world-class fish hatcheries, the State will triple its walleye fingerling production, produce an additional 500,000 trout and salmon, raise 100,000 cisco for native fish restoration, and bolster development of a hardier strain of brown trout. The Governor’s program will also improve New York’s network of fishing access sites, hand launch boat sites, and public fishing rights with an emphasis on warm-water streams and rivers.
The State will work with Clarkson University, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and other experts to design and build emergency response equipment that can mitigate or eliminate Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) in waterways across the State. The State will also work with farmers and communities to reduce the harmful runoff that contributes to some HABs. Exemplifying 20 Governor Cuomo’s commitment to clean water, the State will provide an additional $9.4 million in grants to upgrade the Lake George wastewater treatment plant to preserve the water quality and natural beauty of Lake George.
Governor Cuomo has already accomplished the largest artificial reef expansion in New York’s history. The State has built 12 artificial reef sites in New York, including two in Long Island Sound, two in Great South Bay, and eight in the Atlantic Ocean. These sites provide new habitats for marine life, and they create superb opportunities for fishing enthusiasts. The next phase is to double reef acreage by expanding seven existing reefs and creating four new artificial reefs in Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. This expansion will be complete by 2022, resulting in an even stronger and more diverse marine ecosystem.
At one time, Long Island’s Great South Bay produced over half of the clams eaten in the United States. Oysters were so plentiful that they 21 filtered the entirety of New York Harbor every three days. Diminished water quality and over-harvesting decimated these populations. New York has already begun to revitalize the Harbor. Governor Cuomo’s Long Island Shellfish Restoration Initiative is capitalizing on this progress by restocking the Bay with oysters and clams. Restore Mother Nature will double the size of this effort.