The History and Science of Managing the Hudson River

Dennis J. Suszkowski and Christopher F. D'Elia abstract For nearly four centuries humans have been affecting Hudson River resources, with the most profound human influences occurring during the last 150 years. Economic issues have been at the root of most environmental management decisions. Problems and controversies, like dealing with New York City's sewerage, Westway and the Hudson River Power Case, have shaped both regional and national environmental policies. The current intricate matrixof governmental institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and multiple and multidisciplinary issues involved greatly complicates environmental management in the United States. New management structures have emerged to deal with problems that cross political and institutional boundaries, and for which no single entity has full responsibility to resolve. Successes in conquering regional problems have shared the same characteristics: the development of sound technical information to understand the problem and its potential solution; the formation of appropriate partnerships that include all appropriate decision makers; pressure from stakeholders and concerned individuals outside the management agencies for specific outcomes; the acquisition of funds appropriate to the task; and an institutional structure to implement the solution. There is a disconnect between the institutions that fund research and the management agencies that use the information that the funded research generates. With growing demands for watershed planning, habitat restoration, contaminant reduction, and biodiversity protection, agencies will require better understandings of ecosystem processes in order to formulate credible and predictive management strategies.

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