An Accessible Hudson River

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
DEC Delivers - Information to keep you connected and informed from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
Share or view as a web page || Update preferences or unsubscribe

Hudson RiverNet
News from the Hudson River Estuary Program

In This Issue:

  • An Accessible Hudson River
  • Improving Access for People With Disabilities
  • Paddling on the Hudson in New York City
  • Helping People Find Recreational Opportunities Along the Lower Hudson

An Accessible Hudson River

People in canoes on the Hudson River on a sunny day.

The Hudson River estuary and its shores offer exceptional opportunities for outdoor recreation. Today, nearly every community along the tidal Hudson has some form of public access to the river, despite site limitations due to steep slopes and the presence of railroad tracks. The Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda 2021 - 2025 establishes a goal to ensure that people of all ages and abilities can access these sites and to help communities improve the resiliency of these sites to flooding and sea-level rise.

To achieve this goal, DEC's Hudson River Estuary Program annually offers River Access Grants, competitive funding opportunities to tidal Hudson River communities for upgrades to docks, boat launches, fishing piers, swimming beaches, and facilities to accommodate people with a wide-range of abilities and to improve resiliency to flooding. These grants are funded by New York State's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). 

In 2022, DEC’s Estuary Program awarded $156,389 for three River Access grants, all of which will serve disadvantaged and underserved communities. This funding supports creating community action plans for potential Hudson access sites on the north shore of Staten Island and the Bronx; purchasing adaptive equipment for paddlers of all abilities including people who are blind or visually impaired to enhance the programs of New York Outrigger Inc.; and improving the safety and resiliency of floating docks used by padding and rowing groups within Hudson River Park.

People rowing an outrigger in New York Harbor. Photo courtesy of New York Outrigger Inc.

Improving Access for People with Disabilities

Beach wheelchair at Kingston Point beach.

Kingston Point Beach, within easy walking distance from downtown, provides one of the few public beaches along the tidal Hudson River. In addition to a large swimming area, the park includes a public motorboat launch, volleyball courts, kayak and canoe launches, and a picnic pavilion. Beginning in 2017, the City of Kingston took steps to improve accessibility for people with disabilities at Kingston Point Beach, following the recommendations of an on-site assessment by the Northeast ADA Center (Americans With Disabilities Act) which took place through the Hudson Estuary Accessibility Project (PDF). With funding from a River Access grant, the City installed an accessible beach mat, purchased a beach wheelchair, improved accessibility to and within changing rooms and restrooms, and designated accessible parking. These improvements, completed in 2022, implemented the recommendations of the on-site assessment.

Paddling on the Hudson In New York City

Helping a person in an adaptive kayak get in the water.

Downtown Boathouse is an all-volunteer organization that provides free kayaking on the Hudson for all ages and abilities in lower Manhattan and Governors Island, serving nearly 30,000 people each year. The kayak programs increase recreational opportunities for New York City residents and visitors and provide a connection and better understanding of the tidal Hudson. River Access Grants over the past several years have funded docks on Pier 26 and Governor’s Island and enabled Downtown Boathouse to purchase life jackets, boats, and paddling equipment, expanding the capacity of their free kayaking programs. Grant funding also enabled the organization to purchase two adaptive boats equipped with outriggers, for people of all abilities. Downtown Boathouse also offers training for volunteers and community outreach programs for youth groups and children with special needs. In 2022, Downtown Boathouse reached a milestone of half-a-million kayakers to take advantage of the free paddling.

(Photo courtesy of Downtown Boathouse)

Helping People Find Recreational Opportunities Along the Lower Hudson

A mother and her two sons fish along a pier in Lower Manhattan. Photo by Matthew Combs

In 2021, Pratt Institute received River Access Grant to create a single gateway to a comprehensive and up-to-date database of access points on the tidal Hudson River from the Verrazzano Narrows to the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. Pratt will use the database to create a mobile-friendly interactive map and website. In addition to detailed information about activities and amenities at each site, the website will include a page covering water conditions, currents, tide charts, and other important safety advice. The goal of the project is to provide easier access to sites, programs, and activities along the Hudson River estuary.