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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Funding to fight invasive species

Deadline for Lake Associations, Watershed Councils, Municipalities and Non-Profits to Apply for Financial Assistance is May 30
Please leave my autumn olives alone!
PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management is accepting applications from lake associations, watershed councils, municipalities and non-profit organizations for financial assistance to implement projects to control aquatic invasive species in freshwater lakes and ponds.

Up to $200,000 in matching grants for projects that will reduce, control and manage the growth of aquatic invasive species – primarily plants – in order to restore habitat conditions in lakes and enhance public recreation and other beneficial uses of lakes and ponds, is available. Funding comes from the Narragansett Bay and Watershed Restoration Fund as part of the Rhode Island Open Space Bond Authorization of 2012. The deadline for submittal of an application is May 30, 2014.

Proposals for are limited to lakes, ponds and reservoirs that are classified as a surface water of the State of Rhode Island; known to be infested with one or more aquatic invasive species; and publicly accessible for recreation or considered a source of invasive species to a downstream lake that is publicly accessible.

"This program is being initiated in response to the needs of local associations and other groups that are working hard to protect and restore conditions in our lakes and ponds," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Rhode Island's lakes are vital to our ecology and our economy – as places that support popular public outdoor recreational activities and draw many visitors to our state."

The grants will provide up to 50 percent of funding for projects to control and manage invasive species consistent with a management plan. Projects that include implementation of chemical control actions and permitted mechanical or physical control actions are eligible for the grants. Examples of eligible project types are as follows:

  • An herbicide treatment strategy that includes an initial broad treatment to achieve some measure of control and planned follow-up targeted treatments to address locations within a lake that continue to exhibit excessive plant growth;
  • Mechanical removal of water chestnut coupled with a planned follow-up program of hand-pulling;
  • Removal of an early, contained infestation of fanwort through manual removal or diver assisted suction harvesting.

Grants, which require the applicant to provide a matching contribution for the project costs, will be awarded on a competitive basis pursuant to the applicable Request for Proposals (RFP).

Aquatic invasive species are non-native plants and animals that have been introduced either accidentally or intentionally into local waters. DEM data suggest at least one or more invasive species, primarily aquatic plants, has been found in at least 88 lakes throughout the state (of 147 lakes with available data). Invasive aquatic plants often out-compete native species and because they have no natural predators and can easily reproduce, they grow rapidly and unchecked into dense beds of vegetation that degrade lake conditions.

Aquatic invasive species threaten the diversity or abundance of native species, alter fish and wildlife habitat, disrupt local food webs, and can cause declines in water quality. Excessive growth of aquatic invasive plants often interferes with recreational water activities such as swimming, paddling, boating and fishing, and they present a significant management concern because of their ecological and socio-economic costs.

Managing aquatic invasive species is often challenging. Proposed projects must be tailored to the particular species of concern in a lake, the stage of invasion, and the physical characteristics of the water body. Understanding these specific species traits and conditions for an individual lake will support a customized approach that optimizes effectiveness. Projects should be part of a long-term (5-10 year) management plan for controlling the invasive species of concern. This grant funding will be used to implement such control projects designed to reduce the adverse impacts of aquatic invasive species in a manner that can be expected to lead to improved conditions at lakes.

More information on this funding opportunity, including the 
RFP and application form, is available on DEM website. Materials are also available at DEM's Office of Water Resources at 235 Promenade Street in Providence, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For questions, call DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 and speak with Katie DeGoosh at ext.7211 or Sue Kiernan at ext.7600.