The Watershed Stewardship Program at Paul Smith's College has won a $500,000 federal grant to help protect lakes and rivers from invasive species.
The grant, which was awarded from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, was announced last week.
"This award represents an investment in the future of water quality, biodiversity, and economic and community sustainability in one of our nation's most cherished natural landscapes," said Dr. Eric Holmlund, director of the Watershed Stewardship Program.
As part of the program, the Watershed Stewardship Program will expand its watercraft-inspection efforts for the 2015 season; as part of the work, seasonal inspectors will perform 14,000 inspections at about 20 boat launches across the western Adirondacks to help prevent the spread of invasive species such as Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels and spiny waterflea. The stewards will remove any invaders they find and educate boaters how they can help prevent the spread of invasives themselves.
The Watershed Stewardship Program is part of the college's Adirondack Watershed Institute, a leading advocate and researcher of water quality throughout the Adirondack Park.
Every summer, the stewardship program dispatches crews to public boat launches in and around the Adirondack Park. The EPA has supported the program with two earlier grants. Inspections this year will begin on Memorial Day weekend and continue throughout the summer. Inspectors from the Watershed Stewardship Program are also stationed at several sites not covered by the EPA grants.
Once invasives establish a presence in lakes, rivers and streams in which they are not native, they can disrupt ecosystems and squeeze out other native species. In addition to biological costs, there can be significant economic costs as well – invasive species can threaten both trade and tourism.
The EPA announced the award last week; in all, the agency gave grants worth more than $5 million to 11 different projects. Since the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched in 2010, the EPA has funded more than 70 projects totaling more than $40 million.
"These Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants will be used to target aquatic and terrestrial invasive species in the Great Lakes basin," said Region 5 Administrator/Great Lakes National Program Manager Susan Hedman. "The projects will also help to prevent the introduction of new invasive species that pose risks to the Great Lakes ecosystem."
Inspection sites funded by the grant include:
Access sites along the Oswegatchie River
First Lake (Old Forge)
Fourth Lake (Inlet)
Eighth Lake State Campground
Big Moose Lake (pending approval)
Brown's Tract (pending approval)
Limekiln Lake State Campground
Little Tupper Lake (pending approval)
Lowes Lake (pending approval)
St. Regis Canoe Area
Meacham Lake State Campground
Chateaugay Lake State Boat Launch