TICONDEROGA — The Lake Champlain Basin Program is awarding $662,471 in grants to communities and organizations with projects to improve the lake’s watershed.
Numerous entities in Essex, Clinton and Franklin counties received funding from the program, including the towns of Willsboro and Ticonderoga.
The 68 grants awarded in New York and Vermont will support projects in four areas: pollution prevention and habitat; aquatic-invasive-species-spread prevention; education and outreach; and organizational support.
“Local nongovernment organizations and municipalities will use these funds to complete projects in every corner of the Lake Champlain watershed,” said Basin Program Director William Howland in a news release.
“Local watershed groups also serve as strong community leaders delivering an appropriate blend of persuasion, education and, now and then, kicking butt at the local level, to prevent phosphorus and other pollutants from entering the watershed.
"Some partner up with public-works crews to identify specific opportunities to prevent erosion from ditches and municipal parking lots.”
Howland said other watershed groups help landowners to restore eroded streambanks through riparian plantings, reduce contamination at local beaches and create programs that help students understand watershed problems and implement solutions.
Last year, for example, the Town of Moriah used Basin Program funds to stabilize an eroding shoreline at the Bulwagga Bay Town Campground on Lake Champlain, where fine, sandy material would not readily support vegetative growth and was subject to severe erosion.
Funds were used to create one of four engineered berms, 75 feet long, that contain soil amendments, trees, shrubs and grass to stabilize the shoreline.
“This area will now create habitat for wildlife, and the shade generated from the trees when they mature will benefit fish and other water organisms,” Essex County Senior Planner Garrett Dague said in the release.
“This stabilization project was necessary to maintain a functional campground and public recreational facility, and will ultimately benefit the near-shore aquatic environment.”
FIX LOCAL PROBLEMS
With the Lake Champlain watershed containing thousands of miles of stream banks, including more than 680 main-stem miles along the biggest rivers, a great deal of work still needs to be done, Howland said.
He said the Basin Program encourages project applicants to fix local problems like stormwater runoff, improve recreational access and work to reduce the spread of aquatic nuisance species.
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