Three SLU profs awarded NYPA environmental research grants
Friday, April 8, 2011 - 9:36 am

CANTON - Three St. Lawrence University professors have been awarded grants by the New York Power Authority's St. Lawrence River Research and Education Fund for two projects that will begin this summer.

The fund supports environmental research and environmental education projects relating to the ecology of the St. Lawrence River watershed.

Associate Professor of Biology Brad Baldwin was awarded $19,648 for his project, "Partnership to Examine the Condition of Regional Lakes and their Influence on Tributaries of the St. Lawrence River." Balwin plans to develop comprehensive assessments of lake ecology and water quality for major lakes in the Northern New York watershed of the St. Lawrence River and will examine whether outflows from these lakes influence the tributary rivers (e.g., Grasse, Raquette, Oswegatchie) feeding the St. Lawrence.

"I will do this as part of a citizen science collaboration with area lake association members and University students and will initiate an annual 'Healthy Landscapes' conference, at which collaborators will work cooperatively to learn about and safeguard the St. Lawrence River watershed," Baldwin said.

Professor of Geology Jeffrey Chiarenzelli and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Matthew Skeels were awarded $20,275 for a second project, "Loading of Elements and Anions to the St. Lawrence River From Tributaries in St. Lawrence County." The goals of the project are to determine the loading of elements and anions (ions or groups of ions that have gained electrons) to the St. Lawrence River from its tributaries in the county, between Ogdensburg and Akwesasne. The rivers to be investigated include the Oswegatchie, Grasse, Raquette and St. Regis, all of which originate in the Adirondack Highlands and flow northward into the St. Lawrence Valley.

The researchers state, "This stretch of the river encompasses the bulk of the area of impact and immediate interest to the New York State Power Authority and several key dams, impoundments and the Robert Moses-Robert Saunders Power Dam. The water quality of the St. Lawrence River is dependent on the geochemistry of its tributaries and the character of their watersheds. The stretch of the St. Lawrence River from Ogdensburg to Akwesasne has four major north-flowing tributaries that originate in the western Adirondack Highlands, a region still affected by acidic precipitation and by mercury deposition. Further along their course, these tributaries cross areas of the St. Lawrence Valley, which are extensively used for agriculture. Our goal is to monitor the annual and seasonal loading of a comprehensive suite of 72 elements and anions to the St. Lawrence River from these tributaries."

Chiarenzelli and Skeels plan to have undergraduate students at St. Lawrence assist them in the research project, both during the summer and through the academic year, providing the students with opportunity to experience the creation of original research that will likely lead to publication.

The St. Lawrence River Research and Education Fund was established as part of the relicensing of NYPA's St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project, located in Massena.