Grand Isle, VT – The Patrick Leahy Lake Champlain Basin Program has awarded more than $5.3 million in grants to protect and restore water quality and habitat. The funding, which was made available through the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), is supporting local watershed organizations, conservation districts, and municipalities in New York and Vermont for projects extending into 2025.
Projects supported by the grants will enhance the ability of fish and other animals to move freely in streams and rivers, help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species, and increase the number of native trees seedlings available for habitat conservation projects.
Dr. Eric Howe, Director of the Lake Champlain Basin Program, said, “We are delighted and grateful for the funding provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These additional funds allowing us to tackle projects that have been on our wish list for some time but have not been possible without a boost like this.”
A total of 30 projects started rolling out in early 2023. The fish passage projects are all currently underway. AIS spread prevention and tree nursery projects will begin in early 2024.
Aquatic Organism Passage
18 grants, $3.4 million
These restoration projects open access to important river habitat for fish and other animals by removing dams and upgrading culverts and bridges that are too small or obstruct up and downstream movement. They also help communities to reduce costly flood damage to infrastructure that occurs where these dams or road crossings constrict the passage of floodwaters.
Aquatic Invasive Species
5 grants, $317,132
These projects will support equipment purchases and workforce development opportunities to manage or reduce the risk of aquatic invasive species introduction and spread to Lake Champlain and other bodies of water in the Basin.
Native Tree Nurseries
7 grants, $1.6 million
These projects will address a shortage of tree stock for conservation plantings by supporting organizations that sell or grow native trees and shrubs for habitat conservation projects in the Lake Champlain Basin. The trees are used for stabilizing streambanks, restoring wetlands, and other projects to improve habitat.
“EPA commends the Patrick Leahy Lake Champlain Basin Program for helping to protect and restore the watershed’s water quality and habitats.” said Region 2 Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “These projects, supported by Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding, will help enable projects in New York and Vermont to benefit the communities and the economy of the Lake Champlain basin.”
“With backing from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Lake Champlain Basin Program is taking on critical efforts to support healthy waters, ecosystems, and communities across the basin,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. “The program and its partners will support projects working to restore historic floodplains, which can help reduce future flooding, foster streambank restoration to prevent phosphorus runoff into Lake Champlain, and protect high-quality habitats, with a focus on increasing resilience to climate change.”
Susan Sullivan, NEIWPCC Executive Director provided the following remarks, “We are very thankful to EPA for awarding $40 million to NEIWPCC/LCBP as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This funding is the backbone of our efforts to address habitat conservation and nutrient pollution issues in the Basin.”
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is an historic investment in United States water infrastructure, with more than $50 billion in program funding by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Nationwide, these initiatives support projects that create safe drinking water, provide clean water for communities, and protect regional waterways and their watersheds.
These grants in the Lake Champlain basin will support projects that advance the goals of the long-term Lake Champlain management plan Opportunities for Action. They are supported by funds awarded to NEIWPCC on behalf of the Lake Champlain Basin Program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
To learn more about these projects and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds directed toward the Lake Champlain Basin Program, please visit lcbp.org/bil.
The Lake Champlain Basin Program coordinates and funds efforts that benefit the Lake Champlain Basin’s water quality, fisheries, wetlands, wildlife, recreation, and cultural resources. The program works in partnership with federal agencies, state and provincial agencies from New York, Vermont, and Québec, local communities, businesses, and citizen groups. NEIWPCC—a regional commission that helps the states of the Northeast preserve and advance water quality—serves as the primary program administrator of LCBP at the request of the Lake Champlain Steering Committee and administers the program’s personnel, finances, and contracts. NEIWPCC is a program partner of LCBP. For further information, contact the Lake Champlain Basin Program, 54 West Shore Road, Grand Isle, VT at (802) 372-3213 / (800) 468-5227 or visit https://www.lcbp.org/.