Press Releases

Invasive Species Law to Expire June 1

Renewal Must Include Mandatory Boat Decontamination for All Adirondack Waters

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Adirondack Park’s largest environmental organization today called on the NYS Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to protect the park’s priceless rivers and lakes from harmful invasive species by renewing the law that forbids the spread of non-native plants and animals from one lake or river to another -- and by adding a provision requiring that all boats be decontaminated before they are launched in Adirondack waters.

New York Environmental Conservation Law §9-1710 requires that boaters take reasonable precautions to remove harmful, non-native plants and animals from watercraft when transported in New York State. It is due to expire on June 1.

“Mandatory boat washing is the most effective way to limit the spread of invasive species from one place to another,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “Some of the Park’s most popular large lakes and rivers have harmful, non-native species in them already. We want to limit their number and prevent spreading them to pristine waters. Much of the Park’s interior has not yet been affected by invasive species. 

“Invasive species infestations harm the environment, the economy and outdoor recreation,” Janeway said. “Prevention is always easier and less expensive than trying to remove a troublesome invader later on.”

He noted that the law was passed five years ago with a “sunset provision” that allowed it to expire this year if the Legislature felt it had been ineffective. Janeway said the law has helped educate boaters and should be renewed, but would work better if boat washing were mandatory in the Adirondacks.

While many other states have imposed mandatory boat washing, Lake George and Loon Lake (Chestertown) are New York’s only locations where pre-launch inspections are required, he explained. The entire Adirondack Park deserves similar treatment, he said. Staffed decontamination stations are located at many other popular lake and river launches. Their use is voluntary.

“Our abundance of clean, flowing water is one of the reasons our Adirondack Park is a national treasure,” Janeway said. “It’s no easy task to keep it that way. But with the cooperation of boaters and some creativity, we think the state can make this work.”

Boat decontamination stations would not be needed at every public launch, but instead could be posted at popular launches and on main roadways, inside and outside of the park, Janeway said. There is a state-of-the-art boat wash station at the newly renovated Northway (I-87) rest area and Adirondack welcome center, just north of Exit 17 in Warren County.

Janeway said there are likely to be opportunities for public/private partnerships. Paul Smith’s College and Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program have provided much of the labor for current inspection efforts throughout the Park, with support and funding from New York’s Environmental Protection Fund. 

Invasive species can kill-off or out-compete native plants and animals, damaging the web of life in lake and river ecosystems. The loss of a single native plant or animal species affects the fate of others around it, Janeway explained. Some invaders alter entire ecosystems.

For example, a plant called Eurasian milfoil has been transported to the Adirondacks on contaminated boats and trailers from other contaminated waters. It grows faster and taller than native aquatic plants and kills them off by shading them from the sun, he explained. Removal is difficult, since any remaining fragments can root and grow into new plants.

An invasive animal accidentally introduced into Adirondack waters (likely from Lake Ontario) is the spiny waterflea. This crustacean out-competes the native zooplankton that native fish eat. The waterflea’s hard, barbed shell makes it difficult for native fish to digest, reducing the suitable food supply for native fish.  It can also clog fishing gear.

The Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. The Council envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by farms and working forests, as well as vibrant communities. 

The Adirondack Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action to ensure the legacy of the Adirondack Park is safeguarded for future generations. Adirondack Council members live in all 50 United States.

For more information:

John Sheehan, Adirondack Council, 518-441-1340 cell

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, May 2, 2019

 

 

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