Local officials hail $473,040 in water quality grants

WARRENSBURG - Five state grants totalling $473,040 earmarked for water quality improvement projects in Warren County have been approved, and county officials greeted the news with enthusiasm.

The grant awards include funds for two waterway improvement projects in the Lake George basin and one to boost the fish population in the Schroon River in Warrensburg, Dave Wick of Warren County Soil & Water Conservation District said. Wick's agency developed the grants and applied for the funds on behalf of local municipalities.

Bankrolled by the state Environmental Protection Fund, the five grants were the most any entity in the entire state received through this round of funding allocated through the state Water Conservation program, Wick said.

"We are pretty thrilled," Wick said, noting in the last round of funding through the program, Warren County received three awards totaling $350,000 - and those funded projects are now underway. "Our office thanks DEC for their confidence in our program and the many partners we work with to get conservation projects in the ground."

One of the grants, for $54,500, is to improve fish habitat in a two- to three-mile stretch of the Schroon River north of the County Home Bridge by placing boulders, installing woody structures and placing roots and brush into the waterway to make it conducive to nurturing fish.

Constructing such underwater habitat in a barren, sandy stretch of the river connects two outstanding stretches of habitat and will likely boost fish populations as much as sevenfold for a considerable distance, Wick said. He noted the plan has the support of the independent group Trout Unlimited.Wick noted that as a result of several flooding events, including the County Route 11 washout of 2005, the Schroon River received thousands of tons of sand that obliterated a substantial portion of fish habitat which this project seeks to re-create.

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