LIVINGSTON COUNTY – Two million dollars in grants are available to local organizations for projects and community training that prevents the spread of small-bodied aquatic invasive species in New York State’s waterways.
According to a press release from the DEC, the grants are the part of the state’s comprehensive efforts to combat aquatic invasive species by installing decontamination stations and providing steward training programs in high priority areas.
“The announcement of this grant program highlights Governor Cuomo’s commitment to foster collaboration and coordination among state agencies, municipalities, not-for-profits and educational institutions to minimize the harm aquatic invasive species cause to New York’s environment, economy, natural resources and human health,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos.
Eligible types of community projects include boat steward voluntary boat inspections, boat decontamination stations, and providing standardized training consistent with the New York State Watershed Inspection to prevent the spread of invasive species.
Currently, boater education programs on Conesus Lake are designed to reduce the spread of invasive species into the lake’s watershed. Instructors, or ‘stewards,’ at the Conesus Lake Boat Launch are inspecting boats for invasive species coming to or from Conesus Lake.
The stewards tech boaters to identify aquatic invasive species, and to properly clean, drain, and dry their boats between trips.
The New York State Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) is providing the $2 million for eligible projects. Grant amounts will range from a minimum of $25,000 up to a maximum of $100,000. A 25-percent match is required. For a full list of eligible and ineligible forms of match, please view the Request for Application (RFA) here.
New York is particularly vulnerable to AIS due to the frequency in which ocean-going vessels travel through the Great Lakes. Once established AIS, such as zebra mussels and spiny waterflea, can spread easily to other inland waterbodies through the State’s extensive canal system and through recreational boating and angling. Strategically placed boat stewards help prevent the spread of AIS by educating boaters on how to properly remove and identify AIS and conducting voluntary boat and equipment inspections.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the Protected Landscapes and Thriving Communities initiative to foster the Adirondack’s tourism economy, conserve the Forest Preserve and help communities thrive. A core component of this initiative is preventing the spread of invasive species. To support this effort, under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the 2015 to 2016 state budget included an additional $1 million in the Environmental Protection Fund specifically for combatting aquatic invasive species.
The highest scoring projects will have a statewide or regional focus rather than a local focus, involve multiple partners and stakeholders. Grants will be awarded to applicants who clearly demonstrate that they have the knowledge and skill to successfully complete the project. Priority will be given to projects located on or in close proximity to waterbodies where the shoreline is 50 percent or higher in public ownership. Targeted waterbodies must be located wholly within New York State.
The deadline for grant application is January 29, 2016. DEC anticipates announcing grant awards in Apr. 2016. Applicants can apply for the grant through the Consolidated Funding Application. The application is available here.