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Black River Watershed Conference to be held in Lowville

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LOWVILLE — The third annual Black River Watershed Conference will be held here early next month.

“It helps us remain regionally connected,” said John K. Bartow Jr., executive director at Tug Hill Commission, which is organizing the event with the Lewis County Soil and Water Conservation District and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The conference is slated for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 4 at the Lowville fire hall on North State Street, with registration to begin at 8:45 a.m.

A $15 entry fee will cover lunch and refreshments provided by the Lowville Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary.

“We’re getting a very good response,” Mr. Bartow said.

Speakers will cover a range of topics including invasive species, recreation, economic development, stormwater and current and ongoing Black River Watershed projects.

“This year, we’re really trying to get a measurement of progress,” Mr. Bartow said.

The focus of watershed development tends to be both on improving water quality and residents’ quality of life through improved economic opportunities, he said.

Therefore, presentations on tangible results of both goals, including one on state regional economic development funding for communities in the watershed, are being planned.

“It’s nice to talk about things,” Mr. Bartow said. “It’s another thing to get things done.”

The Black River Watershed encompasses 1.2 million acres in Lewis, Jefferson, Herkimer, Oneida and Hamilton counties, including the city of Watertown, 37 towns and 18 villages.

While communities in different parts of the immense watershed obviously have divergent needs and wants, the intent of the conference is to identify common goals that may be pursued collectively, Mr. Bartow said.

That is particularly important in a time of dwindling grant funding, he said.

“We’re a bigger political force together than we are individually,” Mr. Bartow said.

The annual conference, held in Croghan and Carthage the past two years, was one of the recommendations included in the Black River Watershed Management Plan produced in 2010.

“It helps us keep the document alive,” Mr. Bartow said.

Registered attendance at the first two conferences was 59 and 61, respectively, and more than 50 people were already registered for this year’s event at the end of the day Thursday, he said.

“It seems to grow a little bit every year,” Mr. Bartow said.

To pre-register or seek more information, call Carla Luther at the Lewis County Soil and Water Conservation District at 376-6122 or send an email to cluther@lewiscountyny.org.

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