NYLON – NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens sounded the battle horn on on Friday, July 17 when he announced that the action plan to combat aquatic invasive species will now be implemented across New York State.
According to a press release from the DEC, their Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan is an update to the 1993 Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Comprehensive Management Plan, and is designed to address the threat presented by aquatic invasive species.
“New York State has experienced an increasing unwanted presence of aquatic invasive species that have entered our cherished waters from Buffalo to Long Island and in some of the state’s more protective natural areas,” said Martens. “Invasive species threatens ecosystems, outdoor recreation and water quality. We ask that New Yorkers remain vigilant to guard against the introduction of aquatic invasive species as DEC implements programs across the state to address this problem. The new plan provides updated strategies to help this effort.”
Aquatic invasive species threaten the ecology of New York’s vast freshwater resource and can seriously impede the recreational, commercial and municipal use of waterbodies, impact local economies and reduce waterfront property values. Invasive species such as zebra mussels, spiny waterfleas and round gobies have been transported into this country via oceangoing vessels that transport animals and plants in their ballast water.
The DEC says that New York is particularly vulnerable to aquatic invasive species due to the easy access that ocean-going vessels have to the Great Lakes, and the ease by which these species can then spread via the state’s canal system. Aquatic invasive species can also find their way into New York State through live animal, nursery and landscape trades. Once in New York State, aquatic invasive species are primarily spread by humans, either purposely though their direct release, or incidentally through recreational boating and angling.
“DEC received 298 comments on the draft plan and where appropriate, these comments have been incorporated into the final plan,” added Martens. “We thank the public for their interest in and improvements to this plan.”
A summary of the responses are included in the plan appendix. Some of the priority actions identified in the plan include:
Expanding the network of boat launch stewards statewide;
Developing an aquatic invasive species (AIS) response framework that will guide decision making when AIS are detected and communicate the reason for the response selected;
Implementing an AIS public awareness campaign and evaluating its effectiveness in reaching target audiences;
Expanding the use of AIS disposal stations to provide a convenient location for disposal of AIS removed from boats at waterway access sites;
Establishing regional first responder AIS teams to incorporate local expertise in planning and implementing appropriate AIS responses; and
Identifying and evaluating the risks associated with the various pathways for AIS introduction into and movement within New York State.
The Nature Conservancy added that they fully support the plan.
“The Nature Conservancy commends Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Martens, and DEC staff for their work comprehensively addressing the threat aquatic invasive species present to New York State’s natural resources and economy. New York State’s Invasive Species Awareness Week actions, including the release of this important Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan, provide a path forward to safeguard our state’s waters from harmful invasive species,” said Stuart Gruskin, Chief Conservation and External Affairs Officer for The Nature Conservancy in New York. “The Nature Conservancy is proud to partner with New York State as strategies are developed and implemented to protect our natural resources and local economies from the adverse impacts of aquatic invasive species.”
NYLON is the New York Local Online News section of the GeneseeSun.com, dedicated to uniting communities outside of Livingston County.