The NYS State Department of Environmental Conservation recently awarded the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy two New York State Conservation Partnership Program Capacity and Excellence grants, totaling $51,024.
One of the grants provides a $36,000 investment in the development of a Collaborative Regional Conservation Implementation Strategy for Chautauqua County to help CWC, as well as its county, municipal, private, corporate, or non-profit partners, prioritize regional conservation, land use, and economic development efforts. Numerous environmentally sensitive areas exist in the county, but no objective regional land cover analysis has been carried out to identify which areas have the highest priority when it comes to protecting critical water sources, wildlife habitat, or natural resources. Conversely, no standardized analysis has been carried out county-wide to assess which areas are most erosion prone or flood prone or otherwise contribute negatively to our environmental health. CWC has run preliminary models to answer these questions in the Chautauqua Lake watershed, and this new grant will allow CWC to extend such an analysis over the entire county and, consequently, allow better prioritize of the region’s scarce conservation dollars by applying them where they have the greatest impact.
In addition, the development of this Regional Conservation Implementation Strategy will involve significant outreach to inform municipal leaders, landowners, and other stakeholders on the presence of high priority conservation areas in their respective jurisdictions. Ultimately, this project will form a road map to recognition and protection of our most valued natural resources, areas of scenic beauty, and biological diversity, which will help to ensure that Chautauqua County and its residents will enjoy a greener, more beautiful, and more resilient future. This effort will be led by Twan Leenders, CWC Ecological Restoration Manager, with mapping geographic information system (GIS) analysis to be performed by biologist Jonathan Townsend of Royal Fern Nursery.
The second grant awarded to CWC will support organizational growth and includes $15,024 for accreditation preparation and application support. These funds will enable CWC to add needed capacity to augment and document its policies and practices and properly archive important records to become an accredited land trust in 2023. Accreditation will assure its members, sponsors, and funders that CWC is meeting the highest standards for its organizational governance, financial, fundraising and conservation practices among its peer group of land conservation organizations. Increasingly, conservation grant programs require accreditation as a prerequisite for funding. CWC strives to be in the strongest position possible to secure conservation funding that can conserve and restore as many critical habitat areas and sites that capture, store, filter, and deliver clean surface and groundwaters to Chautauqua County’s streams, lakes, and drinking water supplies.
Funded through the Land Trust Alliance/NYS Conservation Partnership Program, these grants are part of a record $3.375 million dollar investment into 51 land trusts across New York State. The Land Trust Alliance administers the Conservation Partnership Program in coordination with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. These programs are tentatively scheduled to run from now through June of 2023.
Read the NYSDEC announcement here: DEC Announces $3.375 Million in Conservation Partnership Program Grants – NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation