The NY-NJ Harbor Estuary is home to incredible natural diversity and is also one of the most vibrant and populated metropolitan areas in the country and the world, presenting unique opportunities and challenges. Over 300 species of birds breed or make their home in Jamaica Bay; striped bass and alewife travel up our tributaries to spawn; and salt marsh grasses line the shores, providing habitat to many fish, crabs, and other creatures. As residents, we use the estuary for fishing, boating, swimming, bird watching, transportation, and many other activities that bolster our quality of life and economy.
The New York-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program (HEP) was established to protect these natural resources in 1987, as one of the Nation’s 28 Estuaries of National Significance. The Program focuses on protecting and restoring healthy waterways and productive habitats, managing sediments, fostering community stewardship, educating the public, and improving safe access to our waterways. HEP was established as a partnership of federal, state, and local governments; scientists; civic and environmental advocates; the fishing community; business and labor leaders; and educators. The New York-New Jersey Harbor & Estuary Program’s core area of focus includes the tidal waters of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary from Piermont Marsh in New York State to an imaginary line connecting Sandy Hook, New Jersey, and Rockaway Point, New York, at the mouth of the Harbor. This core area (shaded in map at right) includes the bi-state waters of the Hudson River, Upper and Lower Bays, Arthur Kill, Kill van Kull, and Raritan Bay. In New York, the area includes the East and Harlem Rivers and Jamaica Bay, and in New Jersey it includes the Hackensack, Passaic, Raritan, Shrewsbury, Navesink, and Rahway Rivers, and Newark and Sandy Hook Bays. For more information, including maps of the region, see the "Geography" page section. HEP also focuses efforts on the New York Bight, the ocean area extending approximately 100 miles beyond Harbor waters, as the two are inextricably linked.
The Program’s primary planning documents are the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan and the Action Plan.