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Watershed Stewardship Program receives $7,500 grant

PAUL SMITHS - The Paul Smith's College Watershed Stewardship Program has won a $7,500 grant to help keep invasive species out of Lake Placid and Rainbow Lake.

The grant was awarded by the Lake Champlain Basin Program, and will pay for the costs of keeping boat inspectors at Lake Placid and Rainbow Lake, as well as other monitoring and control projects.

"We're looking forward to working with the Lake Champlain Basin Program again," said Eric Holmlund, director of the Watershed Stewardship Program, which is part of the college's Adirondack Watershed Institute.

"There is no evidence of exotic invasives in either Lake Placid or Rainbow Lake, and we hope to keep it that way," Holmlund added. "Our stewards stopped invasive plants from entering waterways on numerous occasions last summer, and we taught hundreds of boat owners how to keep an eye out for these species on their own."

Invasives such as Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels, water chestnut and curly leaf pondweed are an increasingly dangerous threat to both the environmental and economic health of the Adirondacks. Their rapid proliferation kills off native species, can make waterways impassible and hurts tourism and other industries.

The college's Watershed Stewardship Program started in 2000 on the St. Regis Lake Chain and is now operating on several other area lakes and ponds. The program has also served as a model for the recently begun boat launch programs on Lake Champlain and Lake George, as well as on other lakes in the area. Each year, before boating season begins, all volunteer and paid stewards in the region train at Paul Smith's College to ensure they distribute consistent messages to the public and collect data the same way.

The program stations stewards or provides education to lakes including the St. Regis Lakes, Upper Saranac Lake, Lower Saranac Lake, Rainbow Lake, Osgood Pond, Long Lake and Raquette Lake.

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