In the News  Archive

Congresswoman, coalition put spotlight on importance of invasive species control

Post Star
June 3, 2016

Maury Thompson

LAKE GEORGE — U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, who has made invasive species control a priority issue, visited Lake George on Friday to learn firsthand about local management efforts.

“Am I doing pretty good?” Stefanik asked, as she washed off a boat at the Lake George transfer station, one of seven boat-washing stations in the Lake George basin.

“Very good,” said Rich Collins, one of the boat-washing station staff members. “I’m hiring you if you ever need a job — just part time.”

Adirondack Council Executive Director Willie Janeway, who was in the audience, paused from a cellphone conversation and shouted, “Way to go, Congresswoman — stamping out invasives!”

Stefanik’s visit was part of an effort by a regional coalition of environmental, water quality and government organizations to remind boaters at the start of the summer tourism season of the importance of preventing the transport of invasive species into Lake George.

“Clean, drain and dry — that’s our mantra,” Collins said.

Invasive species are plants and animals that are not native to the area. They throw off the balance of the ecosystem when they are introduced into local waters.

The Lake George Park Commission has a mandatory boat inspection program to clean and inspect boats before they are put in any waters in the Lake George basin.

The Park Commission operates a system of seven boat-washing and inspection stations in Lake George, Queensbury, Bolton Landing, Hague, Ticonderoga and Huletts Landing.

A new state law took effect Memorial Day weekend that requires boaters anywhere in New York to take “reasonable precaution” to prevent the spread of invasive species, said Eric Siy, executive director of The Fund for Lake George.

The Adirondack Park Invasive Program and the Save Lake George Partnership, a regional coalition of organizations, has purchased space for five months, beginning next week, on a billboard on the Northway, south of Exit 18, to remind boaters coming to Lake George about the importance of getting boats washed and inspected.

The coalition also purchased radio advertising that will air throughout the summer.

Stefanik is running for re-election in November against Democrat Mike Derrick, a retired Army colonel from Peru, in Clinton County, and Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello, a bread company owner and political activist from Hudson Falls.

Stefanik has been emphasizing her advocacy for controlling invasive species and her support of federal land conservation programs, as her opponents criticize her votes on other environmental issues, such as her vote in favor of resolution to, in essence, prevent the federal Environmental Protecting Agency from implementing new rules on coal-fired power plants without congressional approval.

Stefanik has said the new rules circumvent Congress.

In February, Stefanik received a 9 out of a possible 100 points on a League of Conservation Voters scorecard, based on her voting record in 2015.

The Nature Conservancy, a separate group, awarded Stefanik its “Supporter of Nature Award,” based on Stefanik’s support of land conservation and environmental issues.

Stefanik voted in support of extending the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund program that provides grants for conservation projects, and she co-sponsored legislation to make the program permanent.

She also co-sponsored legislation to extend the North Country Scenic Trail, which runs from North Dakota to Crown Point in Essex County. Under the plan, the trail would extend from Crown Point to Middlebury, Vermont.

She recently introduced a resolution to emphasize the importance of controlling invasive species, and legislation to direct the U.S. Postal Service to issue a premium stamp, with a portion of the price going to the federal Department of Agriculture and Department of Interior for invasive species control programs.

Environmental leaders at the event Friday praised Stefanik for introducing the legislation.

“Unless we are fighting this war — and it is a war that we’re fighting — against aquatic invasive species at all levels of government and across all sectors, we cannot hope to win,” said Siy, of The Fund for Lake George.

A premium stamp for breast cancer awareness has raised $83.5 million since 1998 and an endangered species awareness stamp has raised $3.2 million since 2011, said Tom Flanagin, the congresswoman’s spokesman.

Stefanik said invasive species control is a national issue.

“Every congressional district across the country has invasive species,” she said.

Stefanik said she also co-sponsored legislation that passed the House in April to amend and extend authorization for the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration initiative through the federal government’s 2020 fiscal year.

The legislation includes language requiring the program to prioritize the prevention and control of invasive species.

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