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DEC Awards Over $200,000 for Mohawk River Basin Grants
New York Ag Connection - 09/12/2017

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Monday announced more than $200,000 in Mohawk River watershed grants for six projects. The grants, funded by the state's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), will help to improve water quality, promote resiliency, and create recreational opportunities for watershed communities, all goals outlined in the Mohawk River Basin Action Agenda.

"The Mohawk River is a valuable environmental and economic treasure to upstate New York, and these grants will help advance critical projects to preserve and protect the health of the river and its watershed," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Governor Cuomo has made significant investments to improve community resiliency and to create new and expanded recreation access for people of all abilities, encouraging these types of programs. This is the fourth year that DEC has offered grants to support important local projects in the Mohawk River watershed. I applaud all the successful recipients and look forward to watching their projects advance."

The Mohawk River Basin Action Agenda was developed in collaboration with numerous local, state and federal agencies and organizations that share a common interest in the conservation and revitalization of the Mohawk River, its watershed and communities. The action agenda, which is implemented through the DEC's Mohawk River Basin Program and its partners, strategically identifies opportunities to:

- conserve, protect and restore fish, wildlife and their habitats;

- protect and improve water quality in the Mohawk River Basin area;

- promote flood hazard risk reduction and enhanced flood resiliency;

- revitalize Mohawk River Basin communities through sustainable development; and

- maintain working landscapes by supporting well-managed farms and forest lands.

Grants have been awarded to the following organizations:

Oneida County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD): Ninemile Creek Natural Channel Design Stream Bank Stabilization Project: $50,000 -- The Oneida County SWCD in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will stabilize 200 feet of the southern bank of Ninemile Creek to restore the stream bank and reduce downstream sedimentation through creation of a natural, self-maintaining stable stream that will improve aquatic habitat.

Research Foundation for SUNY Polytechnic Institute: Determination of Baseline and Augmented Conditions of Microbial Indicators in the Mohawk River: $50,000 -- Building upon positive results of an initial 2016 SUNY Poly study, this proposal will construct baseline distributions of the microbial indicators E. coli and enterococci at 10 locations in the Utica/Rome area of the watershed. This project will seek to identify microbial contaminant sources, predict microbial concentrations following rain events, and provide guidance on the risk/recovery of the river to microbial contamination events.

Town of Niskayuna: Aqueduct Park River Access Upgrades: $37,825 -- This project will fund the creation of a new bulkhead, dock anchoring system, walkway and stormwater management measures at a Mohawk River public access point in Aqueduct Park. The proposal would improve water quality by reducing riverbank erosion, improve public access to the river, protect the docks from severe weather and flooding, and create a safer and more accessible gangway to the docks for people launching kayaks and canoes.

Onondaga Environmental Institute, Inc.: Lessons for the Mohawk River: Youth Engagement and Environmental Stewardship: $42,227 -- This project is a continuation of a Mohawk River Basin Program third round grant where the Onondaga Environmental Institute partnered with the Oriskany school district to develop and pilot classroom lessons and field trips about the Mohawk River watershed, stream ecology, and water quality. This phase of the project will expand the number of students reached by this program by providing teachers with tools and support to incorporate this curriculum into their classrooms, and ultimately help normalize the incorporation of Mohawk River watershed-based lessons into schools throughout the watershed.

Trustees of Union College: Investigation of Microplastic Pollution in Tributaries of the Mohawk River: $15,630 -- This project is a continuation of a Mohawk River Basin Program third round grant that demonstrated that microplastic pollution is pervasive in the Mohawk River, but that the specific sources remain unclear. This project will focus on clarifying the role of tributaries in delivering microplastics to the Mohawk River and will involve collecting samples of river water from tributaries along the length of the Mohawk River and quantifying the microplastic load from each tributary.

Research Foundation for SUNY Brockport: Mapping Manure-Sensitive Karst Zones for Farmers in Schoharie County: $14,842 -- This project will identify and map sinkholes and other karst-related features utilizing oblique imagery which will be converted into GIS shapefiles. Much of this area is farmed and utilizes groundwater. Mapping will be provided to farmers to implement manure management practices to protect domestic groundwater supplies, reducing the potential recharge of liquid manure into the carbonate aquifer via sinkholes and thinly soiled karst features. A brochure will be produced describing how to identify karst, and a workshop will be conducted to share the maps with agricultural planners, as well as a fieldtrip that will incorporate a google earth/IPhone demo.

In the four rounds of Mohawk River Basin grants, $416,198 has been awarded to projects in watershed communities.

Senator Tom O'Mara, Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said, "New York State's ongoing investment in water quality and restoration projects in communities statewide will make a great difference for future generations. This latest round of funding focuses on one of the state's most important watersheds, the Mohawk River Basin. I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Cuomo and all of my legislative colleagues to help secure a stronger environmental future in every region of the state."

Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Chair of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee, said, "These Mohawk River watershed grants will go far in supporting a broad range of water quality, aquatic ecosystem and watershed resiliency, and public access initiatives. New York State's investment in local projects that were development as part of a multi-stakeholder action agenda will have positive returns in the conservation and revitalization of the Mohawk River watershed and its communities."

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