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State Provides $1 Million in Funding for Great Lakes

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – More than $1 million in state grants will help colleges and local environmental groups restore the Great Lakes ecosystem.

The projects receiving the funding cover a broad range of needs facing the Great Lakes and its tributaries. In Buffalo, the group Friends of the Buffalo and Niagara Rivers is receiving nearly $170,000 for a habitat study along the Buffalo River.

The group's director Julie Barrett O'Neill said the information gained will guide habitat restoration. She also said a second aspect of the study is to get neighborhoods adjacent to the river involved.

"We found in our experience that where the community does not feel a sense of ownership over the river, we can do as much habitat restoration as we want, but it won't be sustained over the long term," Barrett O'Neill said.

$200,000 will be shared by the state Health Department and four colleges and universities to determine the causes of the Type E botulism outbreaks in Lakes Erie and Ontario the previous two years.

State Environmental Conservation Commissioner Erin Crotty said the Great Lakes is one of New York's precious natural resources.

"We're so blessed in New York with significant natural resources, from the Adirondacks to the Catskills out here to the Great Lakes," Crotty said. "Protecting our natural resources is extremely important for not only our environment but our economy. Protecting our natural resources is protecting our economy."

Crotty also announced nearly $160,000 in funding for forestry programs across New York. The City of Buffalo will receive $25,000 to remove hazardous trees, replacing them with new seedlings.