###Photo: Paddlers and dignitaries gather to celebrate the National Water Trail designation: L-R Congressman Maurice Hinchey; City of Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo; Fran Dunwell, Hudson River Estuary Program Coordinator; Willie Janeway NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Region 3 Director; Dan McLaughlin, Hudson River Water Trail Association; and Mark Castiglione Visit www.hudsongreenway.ny.gov/Trailsandscenicbyways/watertrail.aspx for information on the Hudson River Greenway Water Trail Visit www.nps.gov/WaterTrails/ for information on the National Water Trail System. Visit http://www.hudsonrivervalleyramble.com/ for information on the Hudson River Valley Ramble Visit http://www.hudsonrivervalley.com/ for information on the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area Contact: Mark Castiglione (518) 473-3835 (518) 281-7899
Kingston, N.Y. - The Hudson River Valley Greenway and National Heritage Area have announced that the Hudson River Greenway Water Trail has been designated a National Water Trail by the United States Department of Interior. Water Trail enthusiasts were joined at Kingston Point Beach by Congressman Hinchey, Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo and other dignitaries for the announcement. The announcement was followed by a paddle on the Hudson River and Rondout Creek. The event also celebrated beginning of the 13th annual Hudson River Valley Ramble, an event that connects tens of thousands of people to the region's historic, cultural and recreational resources. The Hudson River Greenway Water Trail is a 256 mile Water Trail stretching from the Adirondack Park and Lake Champlain to Manhattan. It is designed with the goal of providing one or more access points every 10 miles or less along both shores of the river, and overnight accommodation sites every 15 miles or less. Currently, the water trail includes 96 designated public access sites. The water trail is one the first in the nation to receive the National Water Trail designation. Mark Castiglione, acting Executive Director of the Hudson River Valley Greenway and National Heritage Area said, "It's well deserved recognition for this truly grassroots project to improve public access to the Hudson River and create a regional water trail. While the Greenway has been the shepherd of these ideas, it is the commitment of our many partners to create the water trail that has made it worthy of this prestigious National Water Trail designation. "This new federal designation further underscores the greatness of the Hudson River Valley Greenway Water Trail and will make it more prominent on a national level, which will further enhance the region's reputation and encourage increased tourism and economic activity," said Hinchey, who presented the federal plaque designating the system as a National Water Trail. "The announcement we are celebrating today is a testament to the hard work of grassroots activists and all those who love the Hudson River Valley and fought for this designation. I was very pleased to have written the legislation that created the Greenway and I am even more delighted to see this program flourish with a remarkable Water Trail that provides tremendous access to the Hudson River and the various sites along its banks." The National Park Service (NPS) Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA) is the primary administrator for the National Water Trail System. Visit www.nps.gov/WaterTrails for information on the NWTS. Karl Beard, New York Projects Director for the National Park Service Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance Program said, "The National Park Service has been a close partner in the development of the Hudson River Greenway Water Trail and we are continuing to work with partners to create additional access points to it. We congratulate the Greenway on this well-deserved recognition which is another fine example of the Greenway's contributions to enriching the Hudson River Valley for all its citizens." Various agencies, local and county governments, numerous not for profit and private sector partners throughout the valley have all worked to advance the shared goal of the Hudson River Greenway Water Trail. These organizations include the Hudson River Water Trail Association, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Hudson River Estuary Program, New York Department of State, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the National Park Service and Scenic Hudson. A total of 71 riverfront communities have also been integral in the development of new public access sites and the growth of water trail. The City of Kingston was one of the first communities to have a designated Greenway Water Trail site. City of Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo said, "The Hudson River and Rondout Creek waterfronts are a tremendous asset for the City of Kingston. Leveraging our waterways for recreational opportunities like the Greenway Water Trail not only helps to increase the quality of life for residents, but is also an attractive force for businesses and tourists." "We congratulate the Greenway and the many partner organizations for being honored with this National Water Trail designation," NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said. "The DEC and our Hudson River Estuary Program are proud partners with the Greenway in helping to improved public access to the Hudson River and create access points along the Hudson River Greenway Water Trail. We are committed to working with the Greenway, the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and local communities to preserve and promote the Hudson River as a world class tourism and recreation resource." Commissioner Rose Harvey, NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said, "This prestigious recognition verifies what we've known all along: the Hudson River Greenway Water Trailis a tremendous recreational resource that connects people and communities. OPRHP looks forward to a continued partnership with the Greenway to link together our parks, our historic sites, to our great Hudson River. In so doing, we will strengthen the Hudson Valley's economy and quality of life." Ned Sullivan, President of Scenic Hudson, said, "This designation rightfully honors a spectacular water trail. It also celebrates grass-roots action at its best, with individuals, groups and communities uniting to provide more access to the region's greatest natural asset, the Hudson River. The Hudson River Greenway Water Trail is a pathway to the valley's future prosperity, a catalyst for revitalizing waterfronts, spurring economic opportunity and jobs, and enhancing our $4.3 billion tourism industry. I know from my own paddling experience that the Water Trail, including stops in several Scenic Hudson parks, provides thrilling opportunities to connect with the valley's world-class natural treasures, both in the river and along the shore. I look forward to new adventures as we continue to expand it." Dan McLaughlin, Hudson River Watertrail Association board member stated, "One of New York State's many hidden treasures, the Hudson River Greenway Water Trail, can be easily accessed at nearly 100 public access points. Access was once only available at a very few poorly maintained sites. The state has helped to avail the rivers beauty to all its visitors. Whether it's urban or rural the Hudson River Greenway Water Trail's 256 mile length has it all. A perfect water trail that provides single or multi-day adventures for all skill levels and well deserving of this National Water Trail designation." Robin Dropkin, Executive Director of Parks & Trails New York, said, "The Hudson River Valley is an extraordinary place with an extraordinary water trail. But what makes the area really special are the extraordinary partnerships amongst federal, local and state governmental entities such as the Hudson River Valley Greenway and the many non-profit organizations that together have done so much to develop and advance the Hudson River Greenway Water Trail." Mary Kay Vrba, President of Hudson Valley Tourism and Director of Dutchess County Tourism, said, "We congratulate the Hudson Valley Greenway for this National Water Trail designation. The water trail gives our visitors an opportunity to explore the Hudson Valley's natural and cultural wonders, for a day, a week or a lifetime. The Greenway Water Trail complements Hudson Valley tourism efforts, and makes the valley a better place to live and work." The designation event was sponsored by Atlantic Kayak Tours and Kenco. About the National Water Trails Program: The new National Water Trails System (NWTS) serves to bring existing and newly identified water trails together into one cohesive national network of exemplary water trails. The NWTS is a network of water trails the public can explore and enjoy, as well as a community of water resource managers that can benefit from information sharing and collaboration. The National Water Trails System has been established to protect and restore America's rivers, shorelines, and waterways and conserve natural areas along waterways and to increase access to outdoor recreation on shorelines and waterways. About the Hudson River Valley Greenway : The Hudson River Valley Greenway is a unique state-sponsored program established by the Greenway Act of 1991. 271 out of the 324 eligible municipalities within the Greenway area have joined the Greenway and over 800 miles of trail have been designated as part of the Hudson River Greenway Trail System, including 96 sites on 256 miles of Water Trail. The program is designed to encourage communities to develop projects and initiatives related to the criteria of natural and cultural resource protection, regional and local planning, economic development, public access to the Hudson River (as well as other regional and local resources), and heritage and environmental education. It provides technical assistance and small grants for planning, water trail and land-based trails and other projects that reinforce the Greenway Criteria. In keeping with the New York tradition of home rule, the Greenway program has no regulatory authority and participation by municipalities in Greenway programs and projects is entirely voluntary. The Greenway also manages the congressionally designated Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area. About the Hudson River Valley Ramble: The Hudson River Valley Ramble aims to bring people outside to enjoy our distinct cultural heritage and the natural resources of the Hudson River Valley during four weekends in September. It also serves as an economic boost for our regional economy. Guided hikes, cycling and kayaking tours, historic site walks, festivals and river explorations some of the events that are available for every ability level.