Thursday, February 22, 2024

Adirondack towns score state water $$$

The Lake George Land Trust received over $4 million in state grants this month to protect land in the Lake George watershed. Photo by Zachary Matson

Grant money to preserve land, upgrade treatment plants, extend trout habitat

From removing culverts and reducing roadside erosion to covering salt piles and improving wastewater treatment plants, the latest round of state water quality grants will fund projects across the Adirondack Park.

State officials last week announced over $166 million statewide to fund 187 projects, including more than $6.3 million in Adirondack communities.

The Lake George Land Trust was the recipient of the region’s largest grant, getting more than $3.5 million to acquire and preserve over 700 acres in the Indian Brook watershed. Around 1,500 people get their drinking water from the watershed.

The land trust also received a $621,000 grant to protect a 73-acre forested parcel in the Town of Lake George that contains more than 1,500 feet of stream.

In the northern Adirondacks, Trout Unlimited will be working with the Town of Franklin to replace two culverts on Goldsmith Road. The culverts were prioritized to improve and reconnect 3.6 miles of brook trout habitat on tributaries to the North Branch of the Saranac River. The state grant is worth nearly $250,000.

While Trout Unlimited was applying for the grant one of the culverts failed in December, so the organizations is looking for alternative funding to replace that one as soon as possible and look for a third road-river crossing to improve, according to Jacob Fetterman of Trout Unlimited.

Other projects include:

  • $1 million to the Town of Peru to improve solids handling at its wastewater treatment facility and reduce phosphorus in the Little Ausable River and Lake Champlain;
  • $150,000 to Essex County Soil and Water Conservation District to minimize roadside erosion in Essex and Clinton counties
  • $226,000 to the Village of Speculator for effluent disinfection in its wastewater treatment;
  • $90,000 to Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District to replace culverts in Lake Luzerne to reduce road flooding and improve aquatic habitat

Thanks to everyone who turned up for our road salt panel at the Wild Center last week! We had a great crowd who came with some great questions. (Even the student’s question about whether using pepper on roads has been considered sparked an interesting discussion about deicing alternatives.)

Road salt event

And thanks again to the panelists for sharing their insight on one of the region’s trickiest issues. Each of them would have been great to interview for the length of the event, so I know there was a lot of great knowledge left on the stage.

We heard that funding will be key to helping communities continue to adopt best practices and that we should be expecting updates to state water standards to include chloride thresholds. Advocates still think more can be done to formalize the state’s work to adopt recommendations from an expert task force and expedite salt reduction efforts.

The representatives from DEC and the Department of Transportation, who are both closely involved on the topic, said they were committed to the issue and continuing to engage publicly on it.

Check out our story and a recording of the event if you missed it.

The Lake George Land Trust received over $4 million in state grants this month to protect land in the Lake George watershed. Photo by Zachary Matson

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Zachary Matson has been an environmental reporter for the Explorer since October 2021. He is focused on the many issues impacting water and the people, plants and wildlife that rely on it in the Adirondack Park. Zach worked at daily newspapers in Missouri, Arizona and New York for nearly a decade, most recently working as the education reporter for six years at the Daily Gazette in Schenectady.

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