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News Releases from Region 02

Five Star Urban Waters Grants Awarded to Projects in New York and New Jersey

Contact Information: 
Tayler Covington (

NEW YORK – Today, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), with support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced grants to Hudson River Park Friends and Rockaway Waterfront Alliance in New York and Groundwork Elizabeth in New Jersey.

The three grants are among 46 Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program grants awarded this year, totaling $1.7 million to restore wildlife habitat and urban waters in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Grantees have committed an additional $4.4 million in local project support, generating a total conservation investment of more than $6.1 million. This program supports community partnerships that conserve wildlife and restore river, wetland, riparian, forest and coastal ecosystems.

“EPA is pleased to continue our support for this innovative public-private partnership that encourages community stewardship and incentivizes local solutions to today’s environmental and public health challenges,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These projects will help local communities improve water quality, restore wetlands, and protect wildlife while creating additional recreational opportunities for the surrounding areas.”

“EPA fully supports our local partners in their endeavor to restore these critical waterbodies,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “These grants engage communities in New York and New Jersey with educational opportunities to improve water quality, prevent pollution, and protect wetlands and habitats restoration.”

“The Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program supports community partnerships that restore and enhance our nation’s fish and wildlife, while at the same time improving water quality and habitat for plants and animals,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “The 46 grants announced today will help local communities thrive by increasing resilience, improving green infrastructure and supporting the people and wildlife that call these places home.”

The grant project descriptions are as follows:

Hudson River Park Friends in New York, NY - $40,472

The project will restore 400 in-water acres of the Hudson River that are encompassed and maintained by Friends of Hudson River Park. The project will reach 900 community members through a community volunteer marine debris cleanup program, which has developed a plastic marine debris curriculum offered among the Hudson River Park’s K-12 environmental education programs.

“Hudson River Park Friends looks forward to working with NFWF on Park Over Plastic, an exciting, new plastic reduction initiative that promotes the long term health of the Hudson River waters and wildlife,” said Connie Fishman, Executive Director of Hudson River Park Friends. “The EPA has been an invaluable partner in creating opportunities for local communities to develop environmental stewardship and preserve our irreplaceable waterways and coastal ecosystems.”

Rockaway Waterfront Alliance in Queens, NY - $40,435

The project will train 40 young people to restore 11.5 acres of coastal environment to improve water quality and habitat for endangered and priority species. The project will engage local private and public partners and 600 volunteers through community stewardship efforts to plant 10,000 sprigs of grasses, remove 1,500 pounds of shoreline debris and invasive species, and monitor oyster reefs to monitor water quality.

"We are so excited to train Rockaway's young people to restore critical coastal environment to improve water quality and habitat for endangered species along Jamaica Bay on the Rockaway Peninsula,” said Jeanne DuPont, Executive Director of Rockaway Waterfront Alliance (soon to be Rockaway Initiative for Sustainability & Equity). “Funding like the NFWF's Five Star & Urban Waters grants are critical lifelines for community-based environmental conservation. Thanks to NFWF's support, our Rockaway Waterfront Alliance will build community environmental stewardship and train the next generation of environmental stewards in collaboration with local city agencies and private partners.”

Groundwork Elizabeth at The Great Swamp, Paterson Great Falls National Historic Site, NJ - $38,360

The project will carry out conservation work projects on public lands along the Passaic River and Elizabeth watersheds, which are connected to urban watersheds. The project will engage 1,200 volunteers, restore 10 acres of wetland habitats and improve 10 miles of riverbanks through invasive plant removal and introduction of native plant species.

“This Five Star Award will help to strengthen relationships in the community and build a long-term culture of conservation and restoration efforts in the nation’s most densely populated state,” said Jonathan Phillips, Executive Director for Groundwork Elizabeth. “We’ve been working with the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge for over five years and engaging youth from our diverse urban neighborhoods in the process. Our work as an urban partner with the Refuge has led to noting the vast challenges and opportunities along the Passaic Watershed. This award will extend our reach, offering benefits to our natural spaces from the Elizabeth River all the way to Paterson’s Great Falls.”

The grant is awarded through the NFWF’s Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program, which support projects that develop community stewardship of natural resources and address water quality issues in priority watersheds across the country. Support for the 2019 Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program is provided by the Wildlife Habitat Council, and major funding by EPA, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Fedex, Shell Oil Company, Southern Company and BNSF Railway.

The 2019 grant winners were selected from a highly competitive pool of more than 190 applications. A full list of 2019 projects is available here.

Since 1999, the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program has supported almost a thousand projects, with more than $12.8 million in federal funds, $11.3 million in private and corporate contributions, and $78.8 million in matching funds at the local level.

For more information about the Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Grant program, visit  

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