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EPA Regional Chief Joins Mayor Driscoll and County Executive Pirro to Award $25,000 for Onondaga Lake Projects

Release Date: 05/16/2003
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(#03056) New York, N.Y. – Earlier today, on the banks of the Syracuse Inner Harbor, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny joined Syracuse Mayor Matthew J. Driscoll and Onondaga County Executive Nicholas J. Pirro to award six grants totaling $25,000 to community groups that are working to protect and restore Onondaga Lake. The grants are the first of their kind offered by the Onondaga Lake Partnership Exit EPA disclaimer, and will address issues of non-point source pollution – a serious environmental threat to the health of the lake. The winners include a teamof future Eagle Scouts, a zoo, a high school science department and non-profit conservation organizations

“Every level of government – federal, state, county and city – has focused its efforts on improving the health of Onondaga Lake,” said EPA’s Kenny . “But government can’t do it alone. Thanks to citizens and students and teachers like those receiving grants today, we are working together toward a brighter, cleaner, healthier future for this wonderful lake and its tributaries.”

Citing the County’s ongoing $380 million project to improve the water quality of Onondaga Lake through upgraded wastewater treatment and collection, County Executive Nicholas J. Pirro said, “These mini-grants will compliment the County’s lake improvement efforts by getting more people involved in projects to restore

the lake’s resources and will assist in educating the public on what they can do as individuals to help improve the lake.”

“The EPA funding being awarded is essential for the restoration of our lake environment,” said Mayor Matthew J. Driscoll . “However, none of this could be accomplished without the combined efforts of these wonderful groups who have taken on this valuable endeavor.”

The Onondaga Lake Partnership Exit EPA disclaimercomprises federal, state and local government representatives and other parties, and undertakes projects in the lake and its 248 square-mile watershed to restore and conserve its water quality, natural resources and recreational opportunities. The Partnership announced the availability of the community group grants – made possible through federal EPA funds allocated for the program – in December 2002.

Descriptions of the winning projects follow:

Boy Scout Troop 139

Three Eagle Scout candidates, 20 boy scout troop members and their advisors will provide bird habitats and bird observation opportunities in the area around Nine Mile Creek between Rte. 690 and Onondaga Lake. They will also pick up trash in wetlands in the area, and remove tree branches and other obstacles to canoeists on the Creek.

Izaak Walton League, Central New York Chapter

The League will help to restore the once-bountiful trout population of Beartrap Creek, a tributary of Ley Creek in the town of Salina. Using Cornell University’s Instream Habitat Program, surveying and mapping techniques, the group will identify deficiencies and barriers that exist to trout populations, and will propose specific measures necessary to successfully restore fish communities in Beartrap Creek.

Marcellus High School Science Department

The high school will complete lesson plans designed to teach students about the complex social, economic and environmental issues surrounding Onondaga Lake. Students will be challenged to play the roles of decision- makers and stakeholders to devise a plan for improving the lake, and will be encouraged to get involved in the preservation of the lake outside of the classroom.

Nine Mile Creek Conservation Council

The Conservation Council will expand its ongoing project to develop canoe launch sites and improve signage along a trail that follows the creek from the Village of Camillus to the mouth of the creek at Onondaga Lake. The group will also partner with Cornell Cooperative Extension and New York Rivers United to sponsor a Nine Mile Creek Watershed Conference this fall. This project will promote the recreational and ecological value of the creek.

Project Watershed of Central New York

Project Watershed will work with teachers and students from eight schools within Onondaga Lake’s watershed and with Syracuse University to collect and analyze water quality data from 16 sites along seven tributaries of the lake. Based on their analysis of the data, the students will generate a water quality profile for each monitoring site, and will pinpoint possible sources of pollution. Students working on the project will become more aware of environmental issues and will become active stewards of the Onondaga watershed.

Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo

To educate the public about how to prevent pollution from running off streets into Onondaga Lake and its tributaries, The Rosamond Gifford Zoo plans to create a “sustainable garden” on the site of a former parking lot using native plant species. The zoo will water the garden using rainwater, create an education station and install signage to inform 330,000 annual visitors of the environmental benefits of using native plants in their own gardens.