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For Release: Friday, May 4, 2018

NY Sea Grant and DEC Award $200,000 to Great Lakes Action Agenda Projects

Grant Projects will Enhance Community and Ecosystem Resiliency

Ithaca, NY. New York Sea Grant in partnership with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that nearly $200,000 has been awarded to eight projects advancing the practice of resiliency in New York's Great Lakes watershed. Consistent with New York's Great Lakes Action Agenda (GLAA), the projects are enhancing community and ecological resiliency throughout the watershed, while supporting water quality improvements and the restoration of native wildlife and habitats.

"These grants are part of New York's ongoing commitment to strengthen New York Great Lakes Basin's environment and economy. For the third year in a row, Governor Cuomo has sustained the State's Environmental Protection Fund at $300 million, supporting critical projects in the Great Lakes watershed and across the state, protecting and enhancing New York's unmatched natural resources," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos.

New York Sea Grant Associate Director Katherine E. Bunting-Howarth said, "These small grants address a broad range of opportunities to implement projects from Western New York to the St. Lawrence River region. Projects utilize living shoreline practices to protect property, enhance aquatic habitat, assess wastewater system upgrade options and inform local stakeholders about resilience practices, while applying a comprehensive ecosystem-based management approach to benefit New York's Great Lakes environmental and human communities and stakeholders."

New York Sea Grant administers the State's Great Lakes Basin Small Grants Program, now in its fourth year of successfully funding projects that achieve goals of the GLAA, as identified by basin-wide stakeholders.

The 2018-2019 Great Lakes Basin Small Grant award recipients are:

Western New York Land Conservancy, East Aurora, $25,000: Enhancing Ecosystem Integrity and Climate Resiliency by Restoring Rare Wetland Seep Ecosystems in the Niagara Gorge: Measures to control non-native invasive plants in the wetland seeps and adjoining areas will add to a larger multi-year effort to restore plant communities throughout the Niagara Gorge, with additional funding from the Greenway Ecological Standing Committee and Governor Cuomo's Buffalo Billion II initiative. This work to restore the Niagara Gorge coincides with the removal of two miles of the expressway along the top of the gorge rim adjacent to the project site.

City of Ogdensburg: Alternative Solutions for Managing Erosion: Engineered Solutions vs. Nature-Based Approach and the Implications for Access to Waterfront Recreation, $25,000: Funding supports the siting and design of living shoreline features, and identification of impediments to their use. The public will be engaged in a discussion about the best ways to protect the shoreline from erosion and flood damage, while preserving and enhancing opportunities for waterfront access and recreation. The SAGE: Systems Approach to Geomorphic Engineering process developed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will be used to assess coastal vulnerability and develop risk reduction measures that both sustain a healthy environment and create a resilient shoreline.

Genesee-Finger Lakes Regional Planning Commission, $25,000: Post-Flood Recovery Building Workshop: Through a whole community-driven planning process, all stakeholder groups in the Sodus Point area can react to the 2017 flood and erosion event along Lake Ontario by identifying past, current, and future challenges and strengths based on infrastructure, environment, economy, tourism, and other community components. Actions to improve community resilience to future high and low water levels and to better integrate coastal resiliency efforts into local planning and management will be developed and prioritized.

Onondaga Environmental Institute, Syracuse, $24,987: Improving Aquatic Habitat Connectivity in the Onondaga Creek Watershed for Coldwater Species Restoration in the Face of a Changing Climate: Increasing native riparian vegetation and removing invasive vegetation from adjacent areas is enhancing and expanding restoration efforts at the Onondaga Creek public access location along Tully Farms Road in Tully, NY. This will significantly improve riparian habitat and canopy cover that can support sustained brook trout survival, growth, and reproduction, as well as maintain stream temperatures and bank stability. Onondaga Creek watershed community members, including youth and school groups, will have environmental stewardship volunteer opportunities to assist with tree plantings, and learn about the watershed, and the role of riparian restoration in protecting stream ecosystems.

Environmental Finance Center at Syracuse University, Syracuse, $25,000: Creating Community and Watershed Resiliency through Training and Technical Assistance: This project will offer two workshops to spur shoreline and upland communities toward implementing Ecosystem-based Management in community planning efforts, specifically to increase flood resiliency. Participants will be equipped with the tools and knowledge to cope with flooding events while maintaining ecosystem integrity and balancing the economic and social needs of their communities. Educational materials and resiliency financing plans will be developed in communities along the southern Lake Ontario shore in Wayne County.

Town of Greece: Waterfront Infrastructure Resiliency Assessment, $25,000: The project is examining wastewater system failures in the Town of Greece and identifying and prioritizing solutions, such as hard projects, strategies, and policies for implementation, in the interest of public health and safety, and to safeguard nearby sensitive wetland habitats in DEC's Braddock Bay Fish and Wildlife Management Area. The focus is on improving the integrity and operation of waterfront sewer systems in the face of potentially increasing seasonal high water conditions.

The Nature Conservancy, Rochester: Salmon Creek/South Avenue Engineering Study, $25,000: Funding supports work with a qualified environmental engineering firm to conduct a hydrologic and hydraulic study of the Salmon Creek/South Avenue area surrounding Hilton, NY. The study is evaluating flood attenuation options in three areas by updating the hydrology to current day, supplementing existing LiDAR: Light Detection and Ranging data with field-collected elevation data, and modeling current conditions and future scenarios. This work is crucial to the Village II Apartments, adjacent property owners, and the Village of Hilton. Public feedback will inform selection of an approach that will result in the best risk reduction to residents and businesses, while improving water quality and riparian habitat.

St. Lawrence County, Canton, $25,000: Enhancing Shoreline Resilience Along the St. Lawrence River in St. Lawrence County: St. Lawrence County in partnership with the City of Ogdensburg, and the Town and Village of Morristown, is utilizing a stakeholder-driven planning process to assess ecosystem vulnerability and determine how resiliency measures can be incorporated into local planning. The area addressed includes 40 miles of frontage on the St. Lawrence River and the portion of the River shoreline that includes the Towns of Lisbon, Oswegatchie, Morristown and Hammond, and the City of Ogdensburg and Village of Morristown. Project leader: Keith Zimmerman, Director of Planning, St. Lawrence County

New York's Great Lakes Basin Small Grants Program is a project of the state Environmental Protection Fund's Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Program. Grant projects support the goals of the Interim Great Lakes Action Agenda, a plan for applying ecosystem-based management to complex environmental problems in order to conserve, protect and enhance irreplaceable Great Lakes natural resources.

For more information on the Interim NYS Great Lakes Action Agenda, visit DEC's website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/91881.html. For more information on the grant projects, go to http://www.nyseagrant.org/glsmallgrants (leaves DEC website).

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