The Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute has received a $594,276 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its ongoing work in controlling and preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species.
The funds will go toward work carried out by AWI stewards at approximately 10 different locations, including Upper St. Regis Lake, the St. Lawrence River and the lower Raquette River Reservoirs.
Stewards are tasked with removing visible plant and animal material from watercraft, as well as making referrals to decontamination stations operated by the AWI. A control team will also remove aquatic invasive species from beds established on Long Lake, which AWI Stewardship Program Director Dr. Eric Holmlund characterizes as a popular destination and through-route for boaters and anglers.
Approximately 300 acres of variable-leaf milfoil have been detected at over a dozen locations around the lake.
The grant is the sixth the EPA has awarded to the institute and 10th used to enact goals under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, explained Holmlund. The GLRI was launched in 2010 and is the largest investment made in the Great Lakes over the past two decades according to a press releases issued by Paul Smith’s College.
Aquatic invasive species prevention and control is one several primary goals under the GLRI, and a large swath of Upstate New York lies within the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River drainage basins. The Great Lakes combine to form the largest group of freshwater bodies in the world and flow into the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence River.
In 2016, AWI stewards interacted with over 120,000 boaters and found 1,743 aquatic invasive species. In addition to the EPA and GLRI, funding has been received from the state of New York, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and a number of other foundations focused on waterway health.
The Adirondack Watershed Institute is a program of Paul Smith’s College. The program started in 1989 as a local-scale water quality monitoring program called the Adirondack Aquatic Institute and expanded in 1999 to include invasive species management.
PSC started the Watershed Stewardship Program in 2000 as a separate initiative that focused on local-scale invasive species prevention activities. These two programs expanded over the years as separate efforts, in 2002 the college merged these programs to begin the AWI. The AWI has since grown into a more regional-scale water quality monitoring and invasive species management program.
Photo of Adirondack Watershed Institute steward, provided by Paul Smith’s College.