The Watershed Stewardship Program at Paul Smith’s College has won a $500,000 federal grant to help protect lakes and rivers from invasive species. The grant, which was awarded from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, was announced last week. The program is directed by Dr. Eric Holmlund. The EPA has supported the program with two earlier grants.
As part of the program, the Watershed Stewardship Program is expected to expand its watercraft-inspection efforts for the 2015 season; as part of the work, seasonal inspectors are expected to perform 14,000 inspections at about 20 boat launches across the western Adirondacks to help prevent the spread of invasive species such as Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels and spiny waterflea. The stewards hope to remove any invaders they find and educate boaters how they can help prevent the spread of invasives themselves.
The Watershed Stewardship Program, part of the college’s Adirondack Watershed Institute, dispatches crews to public boat launches in and around the Adirondack Park each summer. Inspections this year are scheduled to begin on Memorial Day weekend and continue throughout the summer. Inspectors from the Watershed Stewardship Program are also stationed at several sites not covered by the EPA grants.
Once invasives establish a presence in lakes, rivers and streams in which they are not native, they can disrupt ecosystems and squeeze out other native species. In addition to biological costs, there can be significant economic costs as well.
Inspection sites funded by the grant include:
Access sites along the Oswegatchie River
First Lake (Old Forge)
Fourth Lake (Inlet)
Eighth Lake State Campground
Big Moose Lake (pending approval)
Brown’s Tract (pending approval)
Limekiln Lake State Campground
Little Tupper Lake (pending approval)
Lowes Lake (pending approval)
St. Regis Canoe Area
Meacham Lake State Campground
Chateaugay Lake State Boat Launch
Photo: A Lake George Association Lake Steward inspects a boat for invasive species. Courtesy the Lake George Association Lake Steward Program.