Lake group receives $100K prevention grant
KEUKA LAKE--The Keuka Lake Association (KLA) recently received a $100,000 grant from the New York Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention Grant Program. The grant awards were announced Tuesday, April 26, by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and included a total of $2 million awarded to 24 organizations statewide. The grants are meant to educate boaters on the dangers of aquatic invasive species through the placement of boat stewards, the installation of decontamination stations and the uniform training of boat stewards across the state.
"The DEC project funds will be used to expand the KLA's Boat Steward Voluntary Inspection and Education Outreach programs that were initiated in 2015," KLA President Bill Laffin said. "Over 90 percent of the funds will be used to hire four boat stewards to staff the high volume launches on Keuka Lake -- to include Penn Yan, the Keuka Lake State Park in Branchport, Urbana and the new kayak livery at the Finger Lakes Museum. Other funds will be used for uniforms, the construction of Aquatic Invasive Species Disposal Stations at some launches and necessary supplies."
Laffin said the DEC grant requires an incremental 25 percent in kind match from the KLA, all of which is spread over a three year period. The KLA will also assist the Finger Lakes Institute with their outreach program on Seneca Lake when their staffing needs require additional support. With 35 fishing tournaments already scheduled for Keuka Lake in 2016, Laffin noted the stewards will rotate between the launches based upon anticipated launch traffic.
"The KLA is very excited about being able to continue its mission to 'Preserve and Protect Keuka Lake and its natural beauty for future generations' and to help combat the introduction of additional aquatic invasive species into Keuka Lake," Laffin said.
The 24 projects awarded range from $36,000 to $100,000, representing the first grants of the New York Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention Grant Program. This is part of the DEC's implementation of the recommendations of the recently updated New York Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan (AISMP). Included among the top 10 priority actions in the AISMP is expanding boat steward programs and ensuring consistency of steward program delivery throughout the state. Boat stewards help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by delivering spread prevention education and outreach, conducting courtesy boat and trailer inspections and showing boaters how to inspect and remove plants and organisms from their boats, trailers and other equipment.
"The uncontrolled spread of aquatic invasive species like Hydrilla and Eurasian water milfoil would devastate regional tourism economies and cost local communities hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs," said State Senator Tom O'Mara (R,C,I--Big Flats). "We've appreciated the hard work of local leaders and concerned citizens throughout the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, and statewide, to protect our waterways and secure their quality and economic potential for generations to come."