$200,155 in Grants to Nine Great Lakes Action Agenda Projects

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in partnership with New York Sea Grant, today announced more than $200,000 grant awards for nine community-based projects through the Great Lakes Basin Small Grants Program to enhance community, ecological, and economic resiliency throughout the Great Lakes watershed. Funding comes from the state Environmental Protection Fund’s Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Program and supports the application of ecosystem-based management to complex environmental problems in order to conserve, protect, and enhance irreplaceable Great Lakes natural resources.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “New York State is committed to protecting the communities and natural resources in the Great Lakes watershed through Governor Cuomo’s record investments in the Environmental Protection Fund and Clean Water Infrastructure Act. As we continue our efforts to improve resiliency in the region through the REDI Commission, these grants will help strengthen the regions environment and economy and further our goal to connect more New Yorkers to the outdoors. I thank our partners at New York Sea Grant for their efforts to advance these important projects.”

New York Sea Grant Associate Director Katherine E. Bunting-Howarth said, “New York Sea Grant is pleased to work with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to assist communities throughout New York’s Great Lakes watershed identify and address opportunities to apply ecosystem-based practices to build shoreline resiliency and enhance aquatic habitat as well as waterfront tourism and economic development.”

New York Sea Grant administers New York’s Great Lakes Basin Small Grants Program, which is now in its fifth year of successfully funding projects that achieve the goals of the Interim Great Lakes Action Agenda as identified by basin-wide stakeholders. The program supports projects throughout New York’s Great Lakes watershed, or land areas that drain into Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. The 2019-2020 Great Lakes Basin Small Grant award recipients, listed by the project locality, include:

Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District – $20,300: Aquatic Organism Passage Assessment. This project applies the North Atlantic Aquatic Connectivity Collaborative Protocol to identify culverts in the Chateaugay-English Watershed (Bellmont, Burke, Chateaugay, Constable, Malone, Westville) in most need of repair and impeding aquatic organism passage, causing failures of infrastructure and erosion. A report will be provided to municipalities for use as a technical reference in repair and replacement grant requests.

Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council – $24,998: Advancing Resiliency through Housing Assistance in the Genesee-Finger Lakes Region. This project considers numerous structures built before adoption of community flood maps and inventories the local housing repair and improvement programs that consider the vulnerability of the built environment. This effort will increase awareness of municipalities, community development corporations, and local organizations on the need to implement flood protection measures to reduce flood risk for vulnerable properties.

Center for Environmental Initiatives – $24,584: Canoe/Kayak Access Map for Genesee River Basin. This project increases non-motorized boat access to the Genesee River and the public’s ecological awareness by updating the Genesee River Blueway Map with tourism and cultural information and preparing a strategic plan to develop additional river access sites.

Product Stewardship Institute – $24,992: Promoting Smart Food Service Ware Choices Among Restaurants, Customers, and Tourists in the Buffalo Niagara Area Along Lake Erie and Niagara Falls. This project involves businesses and consumers in reducing plastic-source aquatic pollution through stewardship and educational initiatives and messaging. Community supporters include Visit Buffalo Niagara and the city of Buffalo.

Atlantic States Legal Foundation – $24,964: Community-Driven Restoration of Wolcott Creek Watershed. This project assists the restoration of Wolcott Creek that flows through the center of the village of Wolcott. The creek, Mill Pond, and Wolcott Falls are local cultural and natural resources. A series of public workshops will invite community input on water quality issues to develop an ecosystem-based implementation action plan for the village.

Ontario County Soil and Water Conservation District – $5,320: Sandy Bottom Park Shoreline Stabilization Engineering and Design Study. This project will determine the feasibility of applying nature-based shoreline practices to mitigate shoreline erosion at a popular community park and beach along Honeoye Lake.

Yesterday, as part of a campaign to boost tourism and economic development, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, DEC, and Sea Grant also announced the following projects funded by this round of awards:

St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce – $24,999: Lake St. Lawrence Tourism Destination Master Planning. This project is creating an inter-municipal plan to enhance and secure funding for eco-tourism and recreational opportunities, e.g., increasing access to local waterways and land resources for recreational activities year-round, and developing natural and historic interpretation opportunities along trails and viewpoints, thereby driving tourism-related regional economic growth.

Environmental Finance Center at Syracuse University – $24,999: From Planning to Implementation: Building Capacity in the Town of Sandy Creek. This project provides local government with targeted assistance in implementing ecosystem-based management within existing plans and developing a planning strategy for the North and South Sandy Ponds’ watersheds.

Village of Sodus Point – $24,999: Developing the South Ontario Street canoe and kayak launch as an eco-tourism destination for Great Sodus Bay. This project enhances waterfront access with a handicapped-accessible non-motorized boat launch and gateway to a Sodus Bay paddling trail. The site work includes green infrastructure elements and preserves a naturally existing bank area along the bay. Community collaborators include the Neighborhood Association of Sodus Point and Save Our Sodus.

For more information on the Interim Great Lakes Action Agenda, visit DEC’s website. For more information on the grant projects from New York Sea Grant, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, visit New York Sea Grant’s website.