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State Parks marks Invasive Species Awareness Week

by jmaloni

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Wed, Jul 9th 2014 11:20 pm

Invites public to help stop the spread of non-native plants and animals

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is celebrating New York's first Invasive Species Awareness Week to encourage park visitors to help prevent the spread of potentially harmful invasive plant and animal species throughout the state.

To mark the week, State Park boat stewards will begin assisting boaters in ridding potential invasive species from their boats. Events will be held at parks across the state where visitors can learn about invasive species prevention and participate in invasive species removal projects.

"State Parks is pleased to participate in Invasive Species Awareness Week to highlight the devastating effects these species have on our native biodiversity," said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. "Education and citizen training can make a huge difference in helping prevent and detect invasive species and protecting our forests, water bodies and other significant habitats and rare species in State Parks. I encourage park visitors to learn how they help prevent the spread of harmful invasive species."

Officials said invasive species are one of the greatest threats to New York state lands and waters, including degradation of habitat, loss of native fish, animal and tree species, damaged crops, diminished recreational opportunities and negative impacts to tourism and agricultural industries. Once established, controlling non-native plant and animal life is extremely costly - and eradication is very difficult. Proactive assistance and cooperation from the public can help prevent the spread of invasive species.

The mission of the New York Invasive Species Awareness Week is to promote knowledge and understanding of invasive species to help stop their spread by engaging citizens in a wide range of activities across the state and encouraging them to take action. For information on Invasive Species Awareness Week, visit http://www.nyis.info/blog/

To combat the spread of aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes coastal communities, State Parks has received a $410,000 federal funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative using a "boots on the ground" approach.

Beginning this week, and over the next two summers, State Parks will have boat stewards stationed at various launch sites spanning the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Their goal will be to help boaters conduct voluntary visual inspections of their watercraft before and after launching to remove any "hitchhiking" plants and animals, as well as record data that may advise future management plans and public outreach strategies. Some of the focal species the stewards have been trained to identify include Eurasian watermilfoil, curly-leaf pondweed, water chestnut and hydrilla.

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