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State makes assistance available to farmers

TICONDEROGA - New York State has announced funding to assist local farmers fight pollution.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has announced the dedication of $200,000 in recovered funds to assist Champlain Valley farmers in combating water pollution in Lake Champlain.

The money, recovered from a 2007 case in which a major power company violated the Clean Air Act, will target phosphorous reduction from area farms, improving their operations, fighting pollution, and improving the health of Lake Champlain.

"A healthy Lake Champlain and a vibrant agricultural sector are both vital to sustaining the Champlain Valley's economy and way of life," Schneiderman said. "Our office will continue to fight to protect our natural resources on behalf of New Yorkers. At no cost to taxpayers, these funds will help area farmers improve their operations, while furthering their responsible stewardship of the environment. By promoting the vitality of area farms and Lake Champlain, this funding is an investment in the future of the Champlain Valley."

Areas of Lake Champlain, including its southern segments, suffer from poor water quality due to excessive inputs of nutrients, particularly phosphorous. When too much phosphorous enters the lake, it can cause rapid weed growth which starves the lake of oxygen needed to support fish and other living organisms. For years, area farmers have taken steps to reduce phosphorous runoff from their land, and today's awards will bolster these important efforts.

"We appreciate the attorney general's dedication of funding to implement important water quality projects in Essex County," said Erik Leerkes of Ticonderoga, president of Essex County Farm Bureau. "Protecting the environment is an essential part of any farm businesses and this assistance will help our farmers continue their efforts to protect Lake Champlain in an affordable and effective manner."

Essex County Soil & Water Conservation District will receive $19,800 to assist an Essex County-based beef farmer to prevent cattle from grazing and watering in a tributary stream to Lake Champlain by installing fencing and constructing a dedicated stream crossing. A buffer of vegetation will also be created along the stream's bank in order to filter nutrients, prevent erosion, and provide wildlife habitat.

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