Land trust has plenty of work to do before getting $5.4M

Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 5:45 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - After winning a pair of state grants, the Thousand Islands Land Trust will soon have $5.4 million at its disposal to use in conservation efforts.

TILT has set its sights on safe drinking water specifically from sites along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario.

“Clean water is something we can all rally behind. With that we get a lot of co-benefits such as habitat conservation for ducks and fish, and other wildlife that we enjoy,” said TILT Assistant Director Spencer Busler.

One grant will let TILT permanently acquire 278 acres across the towns of Clayton and Orleans. The other covers 400 acres and 11,000 feet of shoreline in Cape Vincent and Lyme.

“It’s not a big check up front. We need to actually identify the projects, put the work on the ground and we receive reimbursement from the state,” said Busler.

But at this point, TILT still has a lot of planning to do and it won’t have access to any grant money until 2024 at the earliest.

“We have a few properties identified that are very important for water quality, water improvement, and habitat protection along the river. Over the next year or so we’ll be developing a more thorough work plan directly with the DEC,” said Busler.

Even at this early point, Busler says he’s glad this money is making its way to the north country.

“A lot of the people that live here, they live here because of those natural values that we have. We’re lucky to be able to have funding like this to be able to implement it in the north country and make sure that it is being put on the ground here and not somewhere else in the state,” he said.

Right now, TILT is aiming to wrap up its conservation objectives related to these grants by the end of 2026. But in this field, there’s always more work to be done.

“We’re just hopeful that we can get a grant contract in place in short order so we can start spending the money,” said Busler.