TICONDEROGA Congressman John M. McHugh has announced the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded grants totaling $603,920 to Franklin, Hamilton, Fulton, Madison, Oneida, Oswego, Jefferson, Lewis, Clinton, Essex, and St. Lawrence counties. The grants are designed to improve the tourism industry throughout the 23rd Congressional District. Each project is focused on increasing awareness and education of Northern New Yorks byways. Northern New Yorks natural beauty and rich history are the foundation of a significant portion of our tourism industry, McHugh said. Im pleased that these funds will shine a spotlight on the wonderful treasures that our region has to offer. The experience of touring Upstate New York will be greatly enriched and expanded, thanks to these grants. Lakes to Locks Passage: Byway Themed Samuel de Champlain Educational Programming will receive $221,000. This project will fund a Mountain Lake PBS production of a documentary and development of web-based curriculum. It will bring to life one of North America's most colorful, courageous and accomplished characters, Samuel de Champlain. Four hundred years ago, Champlain established the earliest French colonies, explored and mapped the interior and persuaded the French king that America was a land worth fighting for. Mountain Lake PBS will produce a television documentary on Champlain's life as well as interpretive and educational pieces highlighting the events, history and landscapes of NY state byways. Adirondack North Country Byways: Wildlife Exploration and Interpretation on Adirondack, Olympic and Central Adirondack Trails will get $55,120. The project will fund a wildlife interpretation effort across three interconnected New York State byways in the 6 million acre Adirondack Park, including 1) an educational brochure and map, 2) an observation platform with an interpretive sign, and 3) related web development. The informational brochure will guide visitors to the hidden places in forests and mountains where they can experience an assortment of wildlife in wilderness habitats on land and in water. The observation platform will offer views of a remote 25 acre pond with interpretation of the diverse species and habitat types in and around the pond. The Adirondack North Country Association will have lead responsibility for the project and will partner with the Town of Duane, the Wildlife Conservation Society and local volunteers to carry out the work. Adirondack North Country Scenic Byways: Podcasts Pilot will receive $24,240. This project will fund the development of podcasts with interpretive information about the three byways in the Adirondack North Country - Adirondack, Olympic and Central Adirondack Trails Scenic Byways. Byway travelers will be able to download the podcasts for the byway websites. The Adirondack North Country Association will monitor downloads and track monthly use. This project benefits the byway traveler by providing lively, engaging podcast tours of the byways, focusing on the top motivators for byway travel in the region: scenery, hiking trails, cuisine, and heritage sites. The podcasts will offer background on natural and social history and some offbeat tidbits to help listeners feel engaged. Adirondack North Country Scenic Byways: Byway Bike Map and Day Trip Planning Guide will get $98,560. The project will create a bicycle touring map for 13 byways of northern New York and an Adirondack Trail day trip planning guide. Attractions and services for bicyclists and mountain bikers will be spotlighted for byway visitors to the 6 million acre Adirondack Park Region. The project will cater to the interests of outdoor recreationalists and health enthusiasts; will foster environmentally friendly travel that is not dependent on costly fossil fuels, and will serve those arriving in response to an on-line bicycling atlas (also completed with National Scenic Byways Program funds). Lakes to Locks Passage - Corridor Management Plan Implementation Year 5 will get $25,000. This project continues the implementation of the Lakes to Locks Passage Corridor Management Plan. This project will enable Lakes to Locks Passage byway leaders to develop a strategic business plan that will guide the organization for the following five years. The business plan will include strategies for generating income for the organization and benchmarks for evaluating the impact of the Byway on economic activity, jobs, community enhancement and quality of life. The designated All-American Road, Lakes to Locks Passage, "the Great Northeast Journey," is a partnership of numerous local organizations that share the vision for regional identity-building and quality-of-life improvements.