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Crude Oil + Boating + Teaching

Yes, we are applying environmental science: from crude oil transport boating to teaching the next generation.

The St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes ecosystems intertwine not only where the River meets Lake Ontario, but through their expansive internationally-shared water habitat across eight U.S. states and the Canadian province of Ontario. Recent work by New York Sea Grant that directly and indirectly benefits the River region is highlighted in a series of project profiles recently posted at as success

For example, New York Sea Grant is helping stakeholders throughout the Great Lakes system apply science to the understanding of crude oil transport by multiple modes of transportations. Crude oil production from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields and the Alberta tar sands has begun to outpace pipeline capacity, pressuring other forms of transportation, including rail, truck and barge.

Mapping the potential impact of crude oil transport in the Great Lake.
Photo courtesy New York Sea Grant

Through workshops, webinars and other activities attracting international audiences, New York Sea Grant is working with Great Lakes Sea Grant Network partners and others to help concerned stakeholders better understand the opportunities, risks, and hazards based on the best science and technology associated with the transport of crude oil in the Great Lakes, Lake Champlain and Hudson River watersheds.

In June 2017, the Sea Grant Network Great Lakes and Gulf Oil Spill Team will partner with the Great Lakes Commission and International Joint Commission to offer a workshop on the state of knowledge of oil transport-related environmental risk and infrastructure and lessons from the Gulf region of the U.S.

This map shows watercraft launch sites with WISP coverage through 2015.
Photo courtesy New York Sea Grant

Regarding opportunities for recreational boaters to help slow the spread of aquatic invasive species, New York Sea Grant has become the leader in assisting established and new watercraft inspection steward programs (WISP) statewide with standardizing practices to increase public engagement in efforts to slow or stop the introduction and transport of ecologically-harmful aquatic invasive species via recreational boating equipment.

Watercraft inspection provides a mechanism for public outreach and education about the threats of ecologically harmful aquatic invasive species (AIS) and the importance of watercraft inspection and natural resources. Statewide standardization helps increase public awareness of AIS and the need for watercraft inspection, and public compliance with efforts to slow or stop the introduction and transport of invasive species via recreational boating equipment.

Workshop and focus group participants in 2016 provided input for the development of standardized WISP program development tools and a steward training protocol. The new resources will be available in 2017.

Podcasts posted at are available for sharing inportant content.
Photo courtesy New York Sea Grant

In 2016, New York Sea Grant funded and directed the development of 20 syndicated radio ‘information bursts’ and podcasts about water stewardship on the Great Lakes and surrounding watersheds. The 60-second, sound-rich CurrentCast segments address such topics as invasive species, stormwater management, shoreline protection, riparian restoration, flooding and erosion prevention, wetlands, and green infrastructure in New York’s Great Lakes basin. The segments broadcast via radio stations throughout the Great Lakes, through the CurrentCast syndicate of more than 50 stations. The podcasts posted at are available for content-sharing with interested organizations. The practices addressed in this series are easily applicable to the St. Lawrence River environment.

NYSG has led tours for highlight the types of shoreline management projects permissible in New York State for diverse audiences that include municipal leaders, engineers, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and citizen groups.
Photo courtesy New York Sea Grant

Public and private owners of shoreline property interested in building resiliency in the face of changing climatic conditions and storms can draw on New York Sea Grant resources that include information on shoreline management practices using both vegetative, soil and structural elements, and green infrastructure approaches for addressing stormwater, flooding and water quality issues.

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Great Lakes Program Eastern Great Lakes Watershed Coordinator Emily Sheridan, left, and website development project leader Brittney Rogers of New York Sea Grant show a page from the new online clearinghouse portal to information on NY’s Great Lakes region.
Photo courtesy New York Sea Grant

River region residents who want to keep informed about Great Lakes topics can go to the NY Great Lakes Information Clearinghouse web portal launched in 2016 through a partnership of New York Sea Grant and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Through the website portal users can find details on New York’s Great Lakes Action Agenda priorities, coastal processes, ecosystems, fisheries, energy, recreation and tourism, water quality, research, and grant opportunities. Users can submit comments and questions via the Contact Us feature and subscribe to the NY Great Lakes Basin listserv for news, funding opportunities and event notices. Funding for the website was provided through the New York State Environmental Protection Fund and Article 14 of Environmental Conservation Law.

New York Sea Grant applies a teach-the-teacher approach to exponentially extend environmental education to thousands of students across New York State.
Photo courtesy New York Sea Grant

Teachers will soon be able to access K-12-level resources for schools and nature center programs through New York Great Lakes Ecosystem Education Exchange (NYGLEEE) developed by New York Sea Grant. To ensure the next generation of citizens is well-prepared to make sound decisions that consider and contribute to improving the health of New York’s Great Lakes, New York Sea Grant and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation are partnering with educators in the state’s Great Lakes watershed to develop the NYGLEEE as an experiential environmental education program. A website that will provide a portal through which users can access resources for schools and nature center programs that integrate Great Lakes Literacy Principles with K-12 classroom instruction and hands-on field experiences will launch in the spring of 2017.

NYSG540logoTILife_1New York Sea Grant is a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, has advanced coastal vitality, environmental sustainability, and citizen awareness about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources since 1971. It has Great Lakes offices in Oswego, Newark, and Buffalo, NY. For updates on New York Sea Grant activities and resources see:  and find their RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links.

By Kara Lynn Dunn

Kara Lynn Dunn is the publicist for the New York Sea Grant Great Lakes Program. She lives in Mannsville, NY, with her husband and photographer, Brian Whattam, who grew up in Three Mile Bay, NY. Kara earned a journalism degree at the University of Pittsburgh; is a freelance writer, publicist, and designer; and has authored two books on North Country natural and historic sites. Kara vividly recalls childhood camping adventures along the St. Lawrence River with the Village of Mannsville Summer Recreation Program.  See Kara’s other articles here.

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