New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Mohawk River Watershed Grants
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced funding for seven projects throughout the Mohawk River watershed. The grants, supported by the State's Environmental Protection Fund, will help reduce flood risks and bolster resiliency, improve stewardship and stakeholder engagement, and protect fish, wildlife, and associated aquatic and riparian habitats in the watershed.
"The Mohawk River basin is an environmental, recreational, and economic asset that will benefit from the projects announced today and the ongoing partnerships we are helping to strengthen," Commissioner Seggos said. "This funding will help reduce flooding due to climate change, increase habitat, and improve water quality, ensuring the preservation and protection of the Mohawk watershed and the communities that depend on it."
Located within the geographic boundaries of New York State, the Mohawk River is the largest tributary to the Hudson River, encompassing 14 counties and 172 municipalities. DEC is awarding more than $542,000 to support these projects:
The village of Dolgeville will develop design documents to establish a dedicated floodplain. The project will identify residential properties damaged during the October 2019 flood event to be removed and dedicated to floodplain establishment. Once completed, the design documents will be utilized to obtain funding for project implementation.
In partnership with The Nature Conservancy, the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy will develop a connectivity plan to connect the Northern Appalachians to the Central Appalachians. This plan will focus on the area around the "Noses" in the town of Sprakers to Glenville Hill in the town of Glenville, two mountainous and forested features. The project will assess barriers and potential mitigation opportunities, identify key land protection opportunities and habitat protection, and/or support restoration to facilitate safe passage of wildlife.
In collaboration with the Schenectady County Water Quality Coordinating Committee, this project will create an educational video on topics relevant to protecting water quality. The video will help improve stakeholder stewardship through education, outreach, and collaboration. Targeted stakeholders include schools, libraries, environmental groups, and the public.
Onondaga Environmental Institute (OEI) will collaborate with educators in the Mohawk River watershed to create science-based lesson plans that include monitoring and restoration activities to foster long-term stewardship opportunities for students. OEI will host a Youth Climate Summit to empower students in the watershed to implement climate change solutions and community resiliency projects and expand opportunities for students to understand and explore environmental careers.
In partnership with the town of Marshall, village of Waterville, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Oneida County Soil and Water Conservation District, Trout Unlimited will work to stabilize and restore approximately 1,000 feet of stream bank. Several stream restoration assessments are being developed to help alleviate flooding in selected areas and the grant will support the design, permitting, and implementation of this effort. The restoration project will utilize natural design principles, including aquatic habitat improvements, riparian restoration, bank stabilization, and floodplain reconnection.
This project will design and implement a comprehensive water education program focusing on watershed protection and the role beaver ponds and wetlands play in flood control and creating healthy ecosystems. Programs will take place at the Utica Zoo's Conservation Education Center, Beaversprite, in Oppenheim in Fulton County, and include family programs, arts integration camp, and resources and tools for local teachers.
This grant will assist the town of Whitestown in Phase 2 of the greater Sauquoit Creek Channel and Floodplain Restoration Project, which consists of construction of 12 floodplain benches along the Sauquoit Creek to connect the creek to its natural floodplain.
The grants were issued in keeping with the goals and objectives of the Mohawk River Basin Action Agenda. DEC's Mohawk River Basin Program and Mohawk River Basin Action Agenda were developed in collaboration with numerous local, state, and federal agencies and organizations that share a common interest in the conservation and revitalization of the Mohawk River, its watershed, and communities. The Action Agenda, implemented through DEC's Mohawk River Basin Program and its partners, strategically identifies opportunities to:
- conserve, protect, and restore fish, wildlife, and their habitats;
- protect and improve water quality in the Mohawk River Basin area;
- promote flood hazard risk reduction and enhanced flood resiliency;
- revitalize Mohawk River Basin communities through sustainable development; and
- maintain working landscapes by supporting well-managed farms and forest lands.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the town of Whitestown recently announced (leaves DEC's website) a landmark Memorandum of Understanding that will target the voluntary home buyout of properties along the Sauquoit Creek impacted during the 2019 Halloween storm and numerous other flood events. DEC, the state Department of Transportation, Office of General Services, and the town of Whitestown also announced the construction of the next phase of floodplain benching designed to mitigate flooding along the Sauquoit Creek. To date, New York State has provided nearly $8 million in support of several high-priority flood mitigation projects along Sauquoit Creek, including a massive floodplain restoration project recently completed in the town's Dunham Manor Park.