Press Releases

Common Ground Alliance Applauds Enhanced Protections Against Harmful Invasives

New law protects clean water and supports the recreation economy 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

SARANAC LAKE, N.Y. – Today, a diverse group of Adirondack Common Ground Alliance stakeholders praised state legislators for strengthening protections for Adirondack waters from unwanted invasive species.   

“The enhanced law improves protections for clean water, allows boat inspections and decontamination prior to launch and retrieval, and compliments new funding approved in April to support education and outreach efforts,” said Ross Whaley, former chair of the Adirondack Park Agency board. 

The law would make permanent the New York State Aquatic Invasive Species Transport Law, which requires boaters to take precautions like cleaning, draining, and drying their watercraft before launching and retrieving in New York waters. Many towns and counties across New York state also have local laws in place to prevent the transport of invasive species.  

“Aquatic invasive species are indeed a 'common ground' issue for the Common Ground Alliance, as identified through cross-sector, Adirondack-wide dialogue and collaboration," said Cali Brooks, president and CEO of Adirondack Foundation. “Lakes are a priceless resource and we applaud everyone working to protect them from the threat of invasives."  

In the Adirondacks, the new law establishes protocols for ensuring compliance with “Clean, Drain, Dry” either through boater self-certification or a tamperproof tag issued by the NYS DEC or another authorized entity verifying that watercraft has been inspected and/or decontaminated to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. The certification applies to motorized watercraft launching in Adirondack waters.  

“This legislation reflects the commitment of our state leaders to protecting our waterways from aquatic invasive species, so residents and visitors can enjoy clean lakes and native plants and animals can thrive,” said Zoë Smith, deputy director with the Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute. “This bill promotes greater use of our inspection and decontamination stations across the region and encourages the public’s role in maintaining clean boats.” 

The bill was sponsored by Senate Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Todd Kaminsky and Assemblyman Billy Jones and is expected to be supported by the Department of Environmental Conservation. The Governor is expected to sign it into law. 

“We thank Assemblymembers Billy Jones, Robert Smullen, and Matt Simpson, Steve Englebright and Senators Dan Stec and Todd Kaminsky, for working to ensure this legislation addressed their concerns and priorities,” said Craig Leggett, supervisor of the Town of Chester, in Warren county. “We have an exceptional state-supported, parkwide system of boat inspectors and decontamination stations that has stopped many invasive species in their tracks. This update to the law strengthens an already good program and expands educational resources and opportunities.” 

Invasive aquatic plants and animals are among the leading causes of biodiversity loss in freshwater ecosystems. Non-native organisms also negatively impact recreational opportunities for swimming, fishing, and boating, which reduce property values, local tax rolls, and tourism dollars.  

“Boat inspection and decontamination only take a few minutes,” said Joe Pete Wilson, supervisor of the Town of Keene, in Essex county. “That’s time well invested. It can save a lake or river from being infested by something nobody wants to introduce. And it’s free.” 

Once an invasive species establishes itself in new waters, it is very difficult to manage and eradicate. Some communities have spent millions of dollars combatting invasive species. 

“This law doesn’t impose new penalties or create burdensome requirements for boaters,” said Willie Janeway, executive director of the Adirondack Council. “It establishes a user-friendly system to verify compliance with the clean, drain, dry requirements already established in law. It supports the existing boat wash and inspection stations to which the public has grown accustomed across the region.”   

Invasive species spread from one body of water to another through the overland transport of boating and fishing equipment and movement of live fish and baitfish. The Department of Environmental Conservation supports watershed stewards across the state to educate boaters about aquatic invasive species and inspect and decontaminate boats to ensure they meet the state’s “Clean, Drain, Dry” standards.  

“Boat inspection stations provide local jobs while protecting boating, fishing, swimming and other recreational activities that residents and visitors enjoy,” said Bill Farber, chair of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors. “Making this law permanent is a critical step in stopping infestations. We applaud the good work done by the DEC, Adirondack Watershed Institute, Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, our lake associations, and our communities to get us to this point. Any town battling to control milfoil, zebra mussels, Asian clams or hydrilla knows it can be very costly. Prevention is better and cheaper.”   

Spread prevention and early detection through monitoring are effective invasive species control options. Many lake communities have also invested in mechanical removal of plants or application of herbicides to manage aquatic plants.  

“We applaud the Legislature in making this law permanent,” said Peg Olsen, executive director of The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter, which hosts the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP). “Our studies show that 75 percent of Adirondack waterways surveyed are free of aquatic invasive species thanks to the work of more than thirty APIPP partners. Protecting the waters that flow from the Adirondacks to other regions of the state enhances the quality of life for millions of New Yorkers and benefits our economy widely.” 

For More Information:
Doug Haney, doug@greatrange.org, 518-524-4674
Matt Scollin, mgscollin@adirondackhealth.org, 518-637-533
John Sheehan, Adirondack Council, 518-441-1340

The Adirondack Common Ground Alliance is a diverse network of dedicated people who focus on addressing issues that affect the Adirondack Park, its communities, institutions, and individuals. The group organizes an annual July forum to discuss issues of common concern and explore solutions at the local, regional, and state levels. To learn more, visit commongroundadk.org.  

« Back to Press Releases

19-20 Accomplishments

20-21 Accomplishments

Achieved with partners, grassroots advocacy,
and YOUR support! 

Sustain Your Support

Become a Monthly Giver

Sustain our daily advocacy work
for the Adirondacks!

Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/module---homepage/RM_7.30.20.jpg

Sign the Petition

Protect the Adirondacks from the threat
of global climate change!

Your donation goes directly to help fund initiatives within the Adirondack Park.   DONATE NOW