Paul Smith's College Stewardship Program training underway

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Paul Smith's stewards in training

PAUL SMITHS, NY (05/21/2015)(readMedia)-- The Adirondack Watershed Institute Stewardship Program kicked off its training Tuesday, May 19, with nearly twice as many stewards and a new proactive approach targeting the entire Adirondack Park.

For the last 15 years, Paul Smith's stewards have set up shop near waterways throughout the Adirondack Park to inspect watercraft and teach boaters how to prevent the spread of invasive species. Thanks to a $1 million boost from the Environmental Protection Fund to combat invasive species and a $500,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, the program will now include a series of decontamination sites within the park.

The Department of Environmental Conservation will oversee the program, and Paul Smith's College will implement it. The college is hiring about 70 stewards this year, twice the usual number, to staff both inspection and decontamination sites.

The locations of the sites include Saranac Lake, Clifton-Fine, South Colton, Cadyville, Ray Brook, Inlet, Speculator, Northville, Broadalbin, Piseco Lake, Chateaugay Lake, Paul Smiths and Tupper Lake.

About 60 people attended the training this week at Paul Smith's College, where they learned to identify invasive species and stop their spread. Presenters and attendees included experts from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Adirondack Park Agency, the Lake Champlain Basin Program, the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, along with students from colleges in New York state and Vermont.

"New York state is taking the lead on invasive species spread prevention," said Eric Holmlund, director of the Adirondack Watershed Institute Stewardship Program. "The goal of the training is to bring together experts in invasive species management and boat stewards from across the state in order to make the approaches and methods consistent among steward programs. The message is reaching a larger audience every year."