In the News  Archive

Editorial: Enforcement problematic

July 1, 2014
Press Republican

The battle against invasive species in Adirondack lakes and ponds is intensifying, given recent actions by the State Legislature and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

It’s a start, but just that. There’s much more that can and should be done to combat the spread of foreign plants and animals, such as zebra mussels, in our waterways. And it’s going to cost money if the state is serious about winning this war, not just lip service.

Legislators on both sides of the aisle last week approved a bill that would require a sign to warn of aquatic invasive species posted at all state boat-launch areas. It awaits Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature. Once that happens, the DEC has one year from the law’s effective date to post the signage, which will address key preventive measures.

And DEC has in place new requirements for boaters to remove all visible plant and animal materials from boats, trailers and associated equipment. And they must drain boats before launching from DEC lands.

The regulations are now in effect and pertain to all DEC boat launches, fishing-access areas and other state lands where watercraft such as boats, kayaks or canoes can access the waterways.

Signs and more stringent laws are all well and good, but what they lack is the ability to enforce the new requirements, as is usually the case.

Most boaters are serious outdoor people and are respectful of the rules. But there are always scofflaws. You know the ones: those who litter fishing areas, ignore common sense, unwritten sportsmen’s “laws,” etc.

The DEC and other state-park commissions offer a multitude of seasonal job opportunities: life-guard positions, ticket-takers, campsite monitors among many others. Why not spend money for other seasonal jobs like boat and trailer cleaning, invasive aquatic-species monitoring, education attendants and the like?

Having paid, on-site attendants would certainly compel water-recreation enthusiasts to follow the new rules and advocate the seriousness of their compliance. It also would put young adults to work; students always have difficulty finding seasonal, part-time employment and it would be good on-the-job training and perhaps lure these employees into environmental careers.

Such workers would almost guarantee that boats and trailers leaving launch sites would be clean of all visible plant, fish and animals as well as mud and other debris from that equipment. They could also help drain boats from every space that holds water.

Similarly, they presumably could wash down boats and trailers prior to launching into our pristine waterways.

What’s the price the state and its agencies are really willing to pay? That’s the bottom line.

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