09.18.14

Leahy: $650,000 In Grants Available To Organizations To Address Water Quality And Conservation Concerns On Lake Champlain

(THURSDAY, Sept. 18, 2014) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Thursday joined the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) in announcing $650,000 in federal funding available to local watershed groups, towns and other organizations in Vermont and New York in the continued effort to implement a long-term management plan for Lake Champlain. The funding will play a key role in assisting local organizations respond to serious water quality and conservation concerns on the lake as well as working to enhance the region’s historic, cultural and recreational resources.

Leahy said:  “I am proud that once again this year the Basin Program is able to add to the millions of dollars in support that it has provided to local organizations and towns working on Lake Champlain issues.  Some of the best and most cost-effective work to protect and restore the resources of the Lake Champlain region gets done at the local level.  These organizations struggle constantly for even small amounts of funding, however, which is why I have worked for decades to help sustain the Local Partnership Grant Programs.”   

LCBP anticipates awarding more than 50 grants to local watershed groups.  These grants will concentrate on conservation, invasive species management and education and outreach.  The grants are meant to implement Opportunities for Action, a long-term management plan for the Lake, which brings together government, private organizations and communities to address concerns with the lake.  The grants draw on funds provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the National Park Service

The Lake Champlain Basin Program’s 2014 Local Implementation Grant programs will include:

  • Pollution Prevention and Wildlife Habitat Conservation
  • Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention
  •  Education and Outreach
  • Organizational Support
  • Local Water Trail Development

The funding comes on the heels of an announcement last month by Leahy and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack of an additional $45 million over five years to address agricultural runoff in Lake Champlain.

Leahy has long been a champion of Lake Champlain.  In sponsoring the Lake Champlain Special Designation Act, Leahy made it possible for the Environmental protection agency to provide funding support to the lake.  He also coauthored, with Senator Jeffords, the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership act which provides Park Service support and as chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, Leahy oversees the budget of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, which includes funding to Lake Champlain.  

David Mears, the Vermont co-chair of the Lake Champlain Basin Program, said:  "The announcement of these grants comes at a critical time for watershed groups, Conservation Districts and our other local groups and partners and is foundational to our work together to restore the ecological health of Lake Champlain.”

Denise Smith, Director of the Friends of Northern Lake Champlain, said:  “Our Friends of Northern Lake Champlain group was fortunate to receive partnership funds last year. These resources have been instrumental in building a stronger organization and allowed us to install a bio retention project in Sheldon Springs.  We also used some funds for a Cultural Heritage Project in St. Albans City.  This is all important work in raising awareness and promoting the importance of clean water for our communities.” 

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