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Three Grants Approved for Environmental, Educational, and Research Projects in the St. Lawrence River Watershed

Recipients are Clarkson University, SUNY College at Brockport and Save the River

Contact Information:
Karen White
(315) 764-0226, ext. 304
karen.white@nypa.gov


April 10, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MASSENA—Three projects that will contribute to the greater understanding of and appreciation for the St. Lawrence River ecosystem were awarded funding recently from the St. Lawrence River Research and Education Fund (SLRREF) which was established by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) as part of its relicensing of the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project in 2003.

The projects were approved by the SLRREF board and were funded for a total of $25,671. The projects were submitted by Clarkson University, Save the River and SUNY College at Brockport. The projects will also receive matching funds from other sources.

Since 2007, when SLRREF was initiated, 25 projects have been approved for nearly $317,000 in NYPA grants. With matching grants, total funding for the projects is approximately $637,000. A complete list of projects and grants is available at www.nypa.gov/facilities/slrref/SLRREFProjects.html.

“It’s been a great pleasure to be a part of the review and selection of these environmental programs,” said Maria Toirac, NYPA’s senior relicensing and implementation specialist and SLRREF Board Chair. “This year’s process was particularly rewarding, because we added a new research institution to the groups competing for funding, which demonstrates that the news and influence of our work to study the St. Lawrence River ecosystem is reaching an ever-expanding community of environmental researchers with their own unique approach to measuring and protecting the river’s ecosystem.”

The SLRREF board consists of representatives of the Power Authority, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, Save The River, the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Education Services, the St. Lawrence County Planning Office, the Northern New York Audubon Society, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and local municipalities.

Clarkson University will use its $16,606 funding to study the diversity and abundance of caddisfly in the Grasse and Raquette rivers, two rivers that feed the St. Lawrence River. Caddislfy are an order of insects that can be used to gauge good water quality. The grant will allow student and faculty researchers from Clarkson University to measure the insect’s diversity and abundance at four sites and use the research to determine if action is needed to improve water quality.

“We appreciate funding by the St. Lawrence River Research and Education Fund as this study will enable us to use the natural aquatic insect diversity combined with modern molecular tools to better document and understand the health of the river systems in Northern New York,” said James Schulte, associate professor of Biology, Clarkson University.

SUNY College at Brockport will use its $3,620 grant to study the nesting success of birds that breed primarily in grasslands known as obligate grassland bird species. Specifically, the money will be used to determine abundance, species diversity, and nesting success of grassland birds at river island sites and mainland sites. These sites include habitat improvement areas at Gallop and Ogden Islands and at Whitehouse Point. The work will also recommend strategies for enhancing populations of sensitive grassland breeding birds.

“I am grateful to the St. Lawrence River Research and Educational Fund for supporting our research on obligate grassland breeding birds in the St. Lawrence River corridor,” said Dr. Chris Norment, professor of Environmental Science at SUNY College at Brockport. “I am hopeful that this project ultimately will help with efforts to conserve and manage grassland bird populations in the Northeast, which have declined significantly throughout much of the region over the last fifty years.”

Save The River was awarded a grant of $5,445 to build on a program previously funded with money from SLRREF—the volunteer-based Riverkeeper Monitoring Program. Initially established in 2008, the Riverkeeper Monitoring Program trains volunteers to collect data on the general health of the St. Lawrence River. The information is then shared with the appropriate agencies charged with remediating any potential water quality or wildlife issues in the river. The new grant will be used to create and launch an interactive web-based map of volunteer reports.

"We are very fortunate to have the continued financial support from the St. Lawrence River Research and Education Fund for the Riverkeeper Monitoring Program.

Because of this support, we have been able to create an educated and empowered community of over 630 trained volunteers,” said Kate Breheny, program manager, Save The River.

“This grant will allow our volunteers to monitor incident reports from the field in real time which will greatly enhance the effectiveness of the monitoring program."

To be eligible for financial support from SLRREF, proposed projects must pertain to the St. Lawrence River, the adjoining terrestrial features or a tributary within the St. Lawrence River Valley. The monetary awards are generated each year from the NYPA relicensing funds set aside for this purpose in 2003 and the annual interest earned by those funds.

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