The Hudson, which flows 315 miles from the Adirondack Mountains to New York Harbor, is one of the nation's most important commercial and recreational rivers. The first great river encountered by European settlers, it played a key role in both Native American and Colonial settlement and trade, figured prominently in the American Revolution, and inspired the first American school of landscape painting. The nation's first military academy, West Point, was built on its banks.
More than 8 million people in 19 counties live in the Hudson River Valley -- from the 130,000 permanent residents of Adirondack Park to the north, to the 5.3 million residents of New York City to the south.
Tourism and agriculture remain the Hudson River Valley's leading industries -- about 1 million acres of the valley are farmland. Since World War II, many corporations have located in lower portion of the valley, near New York City. In recent years, urban revitalization has restored some downtown areas in the valley, attracting artists and antique dealers.
The river's estuary, extending for the lower 154 miles of the valley, is a major spawning ground for Atlantic commercial fishery. The Hudson River is one of the few places in America where shad are still commercially fished. The valley's flyway is a major home for migratory birds such as ducks and geese. Last year, a pair of bald eagles successfully bred along the Hudson for the first time in a century.
Community Action Plan
Communities and non-profit organizations along the Hudson long have been active in protecting the region's natural resources. In the 1960s, Scenic Hudson was organized and began protection efforts which helped lead to the National Environmental Policy Act. More than 400 environmental groups, sportsmen's organizations, historic societies and non-profit organizations are working on a wide variety of projects. The state has adopted a comprehensive program to manage all aspects of the river and integrate environmental restoration and economic revitalization. Designation as an American Heritage River will help improve coordination among federal, state, local, and private efforts to both improve and protect the river's water and wetlands, and restore waterfront communities and stimulate cultural activity.
Gavin Donohue, Office of Governor George Pataki (518) 457-2390