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DEC partners with Great Lakes states to launch regionwide 'aquatic invasive species landing blitz'


Thu, Jun 27th 2019 03:40 pm

Campaign to raise awareness about aquatic invasive species spread & prevention

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced its participation in a campaign taking place at hundreds of water access sites throughout the Great Lakes region to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. The “aquatic invasive species landing blitz” runs from June 28 to July 7, and will inform boaters and others of the risks of introducing and spreading aquatic invasive species (AIS).

“New York is leading the charge to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species to protect our environment and economy from this urgent threat, and collaboration with other states and provinces is key as these species do not know state and provincial boundaries,”  DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “Starting June 28, New York watercraft inspection stewards will join forces with stewards in other Great Lakes states and provinces to raise awareness about AIS in Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, and the St. Lawrence River, and encourage all boaters, no matter where they are, to clean, drain and dry their watercraft and assist in our protection efforts.”

AIS are non-native aquatic plants and animals that can cause harm to the environment, economy and human health. AIS have been found in the lakes, ponds and rivers of New York and can reproduce and spread at a rapid rate. AIS contribute to the decline of native plants, fish and wildlife, and can negatively impact recreational opportunities and income. One of the main pathways for transfer of AIS between waterbodies is recreational water vehicles and equipment, including boats, canoes, kayaks and jet skis. Aquatic invasive plants and animals such as hydrilla, water chestnut and zebra mussels can easily attach themselves to a water vessel, be transported to an uninvaded body of water and take over.

The blitz volunteers, along with paid inspectors, will partner with state and provincial agencies at boat launches to educate visitors on procedures used to prevent the spread of AIS, how to identify AIS, protocols for reporting a discovery, and local laws and regulations.

While similar events have been hosted by individual states and provinces in previous years, this is the first time all the Great Lakes states and provinces are coordinating efforts to maximize the event’s impact.

Boat stewards are volunteers or paid members of the community who provide boaters and other water recreationists with important information about how they can reduce the likelihood of spreading AIS. The stewards teach the public how to inspect, clean, drain and treat their watercraft and equipment. Stewards also ask where boaters last launched and can sometimes determine what invasive species are found in the lake or pond visited through iMapInvasives, New York state's invasive species database. In 2018, boat stewards surveyed more than 300,000 boaters.

New York is taking a strategic approach, in collaboration with not-for-profit, academic and municipal partners, to improving water quality, protecting wildlife, and stopping the spread of invasives in all waterbodies, including a public campaign to raise public awareness about the need to prevent the spread of invasives statewide. Earlier this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced $2.8 million for projects across the state to reduce the negative impacts of invasive species through control or removal activities, research and spread prevention. New York also opened the state's most advanced boat inspection and decontamination station at the recently completed Adirondacks Welcome Center on Interstate 87 in Queensbury, Warren County. State DEC regulations prohibit boats and equipment from entering or leaving DEC launch sites without first being drained and cleaned. Boaters should take precautions – clean, drain and dry – prior to launching a watercraft or floating dock into public waters.

For more information on the AIS Landing blitz, including educational materials, location and volunteer opportunities, visit the Great Lakes Commission website.

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