Paul Smiths A local college is getting more than $300,000 in federal grant monies to combat and control the spread of invasive species.
The Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith’s College accepted a grant totaling about $330,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during a press conference Aug. 19.
The funds will be used to implement a recreational boat inspection program aimed at preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels, spiny water flea, and Eurasian water milfoil.
EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck was on hand Aug. 19 to discuss the grant.
Standing on the shores of Lower St. Regis Lake in front of the college’s Paolozzi center, Enck said stopping the spread of invasive species in the Adirondacks is critical to the health of the Lake Ontario watersheds.
Enck says the Eastern Lake Ontario Watercraft Inspectors program is being spearheaded by college staff and the Watershed Institute.
“I don’t know if everyone realizes that the Adirondacks play a vital role in terms of feeding into Lake Ontario,” she said. “We want to make sure that aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels are not a threat to our waters.”
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was established by President Barack Obama when he entered office in 2008. Enck says he pulled together a task force of 16 federal agencies to establish an action plan focusing on five priority areas.
Those five focuses include: cleaning up toxic hot spots; combating invasive species; promoting near-shore health; restoring wetlands and other habitats; and public education.
Enck says Paul Smith’s College is a strategic partner in the EPA’s collective effort to improve the environment.
The college will use the grant funding to inspect some 14,000 recreational boats in the western Adirondacks.
Stewards from the Watershed Institute will man stations along the Oswegatchie, Black, and Raquette rivers, according to Enck.