Lake Champlain Water Quality Efforts Net $16 M. Over 5 Years Under New USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy has announced that a new set of grants will help to bring $16 million to the state to help with the cleanup of Lake Champlain:

Grants under a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) resource conservation program in last year’s Farm Bill were announced Wednesday in Washington by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and were hailed at an afternoon event at the Vermont State House by Governor Peter Shumlin and state agency officials who put together Vermont’s application, and by others, including the chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Jason Weller. The Lake Champlain grants, which will be used by several project participants, including state agencies, will total $16 million over the next five years – the largest single funding level of any project in the national pool part of this new three-part Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which includes additional grants under two additional sections.

The Connecticut River region of Vermont will benefit as well, through a separate but similar RCPP project for the entire Long Island Sound drainage basin, including Vermont, which was funded at $10 million over the next five years.

Senator Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who helped shape and support the new program in last year’s Farm Bill, said in Washington that the funding for Lake Champlain moves Vermont and New York closer to turning the corner on improving the Lake’s water quality. Leahy said: “This substantially adds momentum. This multiplies our efforts to benefit the Lake and all who use it. We made this a Farm Bill priority as a way to sharpen our focus and proactively address the factors that we already know are affecting the Lake’s water quality. These grants will undergird a widening public-private partnership, in recognition that all Vermonters are in this together. I am proud that USDA financial assistance for conservation work by our farmers will be stronger under this 5-year Farm Bill than at any time in history, and I congratulate Governor Shumlin and our state agencies for putting together such a strong project.” Leahy is the most senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and has long led in securing cleanup funds for the Lake.

Read the entire press release here.

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