Maps and Data Available to Hudson Valley Communities

The Hudson River Estuary Conservation and Land Use Program partners with local governments and conservation organizations in the Hudson Valley to help communities recognize and learn about their significant natural resources, establish conservation priorities, and incorporate them into planning and decision-making. This page describes information resources available to communities engaged in conservation or land-use planning initiatives.

Steps for conserving habitat & natural areas:
  • identify resources (What do you have?)
  • prioritize resources (What’s most important?)
  • plan, protect, manage (How are you going to preserve it?)
Local conservation strategies:
  • consider habitat conservation early in the planning process
  • use town or regional conservation plans to guide land-use decisions
  • think “big picture” to preserve habitat connections and maintain ecosystem services

Habitat Summaries

Conservation and Land Use extension staff can provide municipalities with a report and maps of documented significant ecological communities, rare plants and animals, and other available data on local natural resources. Complementary water resource and climate summaries are also available upon request from Hudson River Estuary Program staff. Communities in Albany, Rensselaer, Columbia, and Greene counties can contact Ingrid Haeckel at and in Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester, contact Laura Heady at

Habitat Summary Poster: Presented at the Hudson River Environmental Society conference in 2014, this poser describes where habitat summary reports have been completed and how communities have used them.

Habitat Summary examples:

Town of Philipstown Habitat Summary

Town of Pleasant Valley Habitat Summary 

Important Areas Data

Developed by the NY Natural Heritage Program in partnership with the Estuary Program, this GIS data set includes areas that support the continued presence and quality of known populations of rare animals and rare plants, or of documented examples of rare or high-quality ecological communities. Important Areas include the specific locations where the animals, plants, and/or ecological communities have been observed, but go beyond these to also include: additional habitat for the rare animal and plant populations, including areas which may be used by rare animals for breeding, nesting, feeding, roosting, or over-wintering; and areas that support the natural ecological processes critical to maintaining the habitats of these rare animal and plant populations, or critical to maintaining these significant communities.  

The Important Areas GIS data are available to county agencies and municipalities from the Estuary Program for use in open space planning, development of natural resources inventories and comprehensive plans, and other regional land-use planning efforts.

Conservation Guides

The NY Natural Heritage Program maintains online animal, plant, and community guides that include description, habitat, distribution, places to see, conservation issues, and other information on the rare species and natural communities they track in their database.  See

Guidance for Management of Priority Birds

This Audubon New York website offers guidance on priority bird species of the Hudson Valley, species-specific management guidelines, and Important Bird Area (IBA) information.

Additional Online Data

GIS Data to download

Significant Ecological Communities – NY Natural Heritage Program

Important Areas – NY Natural Heritage Program

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