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For Release: Wednesday, August 8, 2018

DEC Awards $375,000 Grants to Improve Water Quality, Increase Flood Resiliency and Conserve Natural Resources in Coastal Communities

Grants will Help Westchester and Long Island Communities Restore Habitat for American Eel and River Herring

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the agency has awarded $375,000 in grants to coastal municipalities and organizations to implement priorities identified in the New York State Ocean Action Plan. The funds will support projects to restore free-flowing waters to benefit water quality, restore aquatic habitat connectivity for Species of Greatest Conservation Need, including the American eel and river herring, and help communities with existing and projected impacts of localized flooding.

Commissioner Seggos said, "These projects will help coastal communities in Westchester County and on Long Island restore local tributaries and improve access for migratory fish such as river herring and American eel. This funding will increase the resiliency of our communities while protecting and preserving New York State's natural resources."

The funding is provided by the State's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) for Ocean and Great Lakes projects and is administered under DEC's 2018 Division of Marine Resources Marine Habitat Tributary Restoration and Resiliency Grant. The 2018 grant funds will support projects in the South Shore Estuary Reserve and Long Island Sound watershed.

Funded projects are:

Fish Passage Construction:

Suffolk County: Carmans River Fish Passage at Lower Lake, $200,000

The Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning will facilitate the migration of diadromous fish safely and effectively across the last existing stream barrier on the Carmans River, while also protecting public welfare with regards to flooding and existing infrastructure, at Lower Lake Dam in Yaphank, NY. This project will construct a step-pool, rock weir fish passage through the existing arch culvert and extending into Lower Lake. The fish passage will pass the target fish species, river herring and American eel, from the downstream portion of the Carmans River into Lower Lake. This project will impact the South Shore Estuary Reserve watershed.

Fish Passage Planning:

Nassau County: Bellmore Creek Fish Passage Planning, $100,510

Seatuck Environmental Association will develop a shovel-ready design for fish passage for Bellmore Creek's primary, head-of-tide barrier at Nassau County's Mill Pond Park in Wantagh, NY. River herring have been documented in the dam's spillway for the past four migration seasons. Bellmore Creek is one of only two-dozen streams on Long Island where remnant runs of river herring still exist. Access to the 15-acre Mill Pond would provide vital freshwater spawning habitat for river herring. This project will impact the South Shore Estuary Reserve watershed.

Westchester County: Fish Ladder for First Barrier on Hutchison River, $74,490

The Hudson Valley Arts & Science will develop a shovel-ready design for fish passage to allow movement of river herring and eel over the Wilson Woods Park Dam on the Hutchison River in Mount Vernon, NY. The Wilson Woods Park Dam is the first barrier to fish passage on the river. Renovation of the dam is currently being planned by the Westchester County Parks Department and an engineering firm has already been hired by the County to design the dam renovation. A fish passage will be designed directly into the design of the dam replacement project. This project will impact the Long Island Sound watershed.

In the 2018-19 State Budget, Governor Cuomo sustained the record-high Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) at $300 million for the third year in a row, providing funding for open space conservation, parkland stewardship, and other environmental protection projects.

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