Four Grants Approved For Environmental, Educational And Research Projects In The St. Lawrence River Watershed: To Date, NYPA Funds And Matching Grants From Others Total Almost $300,000

Karen White
315-764-0226, Ext. 304

June 21, 2010 


MASSENA—Four projects that will contribute to the greater understanding of and appreciation for the St. Lawrence River ecosystem were awarded funding earlier this year from the St. Lawrence River Research and Education Fund (SLRREF), that the New York Power Authority (NYPA) established as part of its relicensing of the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project in 2003.
The SLRREF board received ten proposals during its last application cycle which had a deadline of Jan. 1, 2010.  The four projects were approved by the SLRREF board and were funded for a total of $41,248.  The funded projects were submitted by Clarkson University, Save The River, St. Lawrence University and The Research Foundation of the State University of New York (SUNY) on behalf of SUNY Potsdam. The projects will also receive at total of $48,232 in matching funds from other sources.  Note about 2010 Application Deadlines: As most of the SLRREF funding for 2010 was allocated for projects submitted by the January application deadline, no grant proposals will be accepted for the July 1 application deadline.  The next deadline for submitting grant proposals will be January 1, 2011.  An outreach campaign mailing concerning the SLRREF application process will be launched this fall

Since 2007 when SLRREF was initiated, 13 projects have been approved for nearly $159,990 in NYPA funding through SLRREF. With matching grants of $127,017 from others, total funding for these projects is $287,007. A complete list of projects and grants is available at www.nypa.gov/facilities/slrref/SLRREPProjects.html.

“It’s tremendously gratifying to see the money NYPA set aside for the preservation of the St. Lawrence River watershed doing exactly what it is supposed to do: contributing to a deeper understanding of this great natural resource and it’s complex ecosystem, and passing on valuable information through the work of these great organizations and institutions for generations to come,” said NYPA President and CEO Richard M. Kessel. “The various research projects funded with these grants make us all better environmental stewards of this great state.”

“In a few short years, NYPA’s investment in the St. Lawrence River Research and Education Fund has been leveraged to attract a significant amount of matching grants allowing the important work by regional organizations and scholars to move forward at a quicker pace so crucial when the environment benefits are so necessary,” added Kessel.  

The SLRREF board consists of representatives of the Power Authority, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, 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:

Funding for $5,175 was approved for Clarkson University for a breeding study on the golden-winged warbler in shrub land along transmission line corridors. The research will study the relative abundance of this bird in the vegetation surrounding the right-of-way corridors radiating from the Moses Saunders Dam to determine the most beneficial habitat for this species which elsewhere is suffering rapid population declines.

Tom A. Langen, associate professor of Biology at Clarkson University, said “This grant will be instrumental in our study of the unrecognized significant conservation benefit of transmission power lines and the habitat they create for a species of bird suffering one of the most rapid population declines in North America. When we finish our work, we hope to provide recommendations on how power line corridors can be managed to provided permanent habitat for the gold-winged warbler and other shrub land breeding birds.”   

Save The River:
Save The River, designated as the Upper St. Lawrence Riverkeeper, will use its $9,587 grant to expand its successful volunteer-based Riverkeeper Monitoring Program, established in 2008, to collect data on the general health of the St. Lawrence River.  Information gathered by trained volunteers is submitted to Save The River and then shared with appropriate agencies charged with remediating any potential pollution or wildlife issues with the river.  A Master Training Program will be implemented using a train-the-trainer model to increase training capacity.

Jennifer J. Caddick, executive director, Save The River, said, “Over the past two years, Save The River has heard overwhelming interest in the Riverkeeper Monitoring program by river community members who are excited to become involved in monitoring River health. Thanks to support from the St. Lawrence River Research and Education Fund, Save The River will be able to respond to community interest in the program by developing and launching a Master Trainer program that will help us train even more volunteers who will be able to quickly identify and respond to potential pollution problems.”

State University of New York at Potsdam:
SUNY Potsdam will receive a $6,400 grant to expand the geographical area for a test of the effectiveness of turtle crossing signs as a conservation measure for Blanding’s Turtles, a threatened species, and other turtle species.  The program provides for the seasonal installation of turtle crossing signs by selected paved roads in St. Lawrence and Jefferson Counties where significant turtle crossings have been identified.

Permanent signs are thought to be less effective as drivers become accustomed to them and pay less attention to them over time. During prime turtle crossing season, bright signs will be evaluated by driving and walking surveys to see if turtle mortality drops. The results will help contribute to the development of a multi-faceted recovery plan for encouraging the resurgence of turtle populations.
Kathleen Chapman, associate director, Research and Sponsored Programs, SUNY Potsdam, said:  "SUNY Potsdam is very pleased to be selected as 2010 SLRREF grant recipient. Funds from this grant will enable Dr. Glenn Johnson to continue his timely research program on the conservation of turtles and other wetland wildlife in the northern New York, and allow him to expand his previous efforts into a larger geographic area."

St. Lawrence University:
St. Lawrence University will receive a grant of $20,086 to assess the levels of mercury in select wetland wildlife and evaluate its impact. The study will take into account wetland origin, age, type and water level management among other variables to determine the relative impact of mercury in the health of wildlife of interest and the wetland’s ecosystem.

Marilyn Mayer, adjunct professor of Biology, St, Lawrence University, said:  “I am quite pleased to receive the funding from the SLRREF grant which will allow us to determine whether mercury, which threatens wildlife in the Adirondacks, is a problem in wetlands in the St. Lawrence River floodplain or valley. The research project could not be conducted without the funding of this grant.”

As most of the SLRREF funding for 2010 was allocated among the four projects, no grant proposals will be accepted for the July 1 application deadline.  The next deadline for submitting grant proposals will be January 1, 2011.  An outreach campaign mailing concerning the SLRREF application process will be launched this fall. 

To be eligible for financial support from the SLRREF, proposed projects must pertain to the St. Lawrence River, the adjoining terrestrial features or a tributary within the St. Lawrence River Valley.

Additional details on SLRREF are available at http://www.nypa.gov/facilities/slrref/slrrefhome.htm, where a report on SLRREF activities is also accessible.

About NYPA:

■ The New York Power Authority uses no tax money or state credit. It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity. ■ NYPA is a leader in promoting energy efficiency, new energy technologies and electric transportation initiatives. ■ It is the nation's largest state public power organization, with 17 generating facilities in various parts of New York State and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. ■ Approximately 80 percent of the electricity it produces is clean renewable hydropower.  Its lower-cost power production and electricity purchases support hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the state. ■For more information, www.nypa.gov.


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