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DEC: New York's 11th annual Invasive Species Awareness Week begins


Mon, Jun 3rd 2024 10:30 am

Free public events scheduled across state

Submitted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

The New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Agriculture and Markets (AGM) announced the state's 11th annual Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW) begins Monday, June 3. This annual campaign encourages New Yorkers to learn more about and support the fight against the spread of invasive species. DEC and AGM are hosting free public events and invasive species challenges from June 3-9 across the state and online, including daily webinars at 1 p.m. each weekday.

“Each year, Invasive Species Awareness Week educates New Yorkers about how to do their part to safeguard our lands and waters against invasive species,” DEC Interim Commissioner Sean Mahar said. “By building awareness and helping inspire people to take action, we can all make a difference in protecting native ecosystems and our shared environment.”

“New Yorkers are critical partners in our efforts to combat invasives across New York state, helping us to monitor for these species and slow the damage that they cause to our natural resources and agricultural industries,” Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said. “A number of invasive species, such as spotted lanternfly and box tree moth, are harmful to our plants and crops and can have a severe economic impact on these sectors. During Invasive Species Awareness Week, I encourage New Yorkers to learn how to spot these non-native species and protect our agricultural community and the environment.”

Invasive species are plants, animals, insects and pathogens that are not native to an area and cause harm to the environment, agriculture, economy or public health. Non-native species can become invasive when introduced to a new area with few or no population controls, which allows them to grow unchecked and outcompete native species for resources. New York is particularly vulnerable to these pests due to the state’s role as a center for international trade and travel.

DEC leads a comprehensive program to research, manage and combat the effects of invasive species across New York state. DEC’s efforts to reduce the spread of invasive species include tackling aquatic invasive species like hydrilla, round goby, and northern snakehead; tracking and managing forest pests such as southern pine beetle, beech leaf disease, and hemlock wooly adelgid; operating a giant hogweed control program that works to eradicate this large, caustic plant; and managing eight New York State Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISMs) that address invasive species issues regionally. DEC also works with numerous partners in addition to the PRISMs to educate the public about how to protect lands, waters and forests from invasive species.

AGM works to control and eradicate invasive species such as spotted lanternfly, European cherry fruit fly, and Asian longhorned beetle, which can harm New York’s agricultural crops, particularly grapes, hops, and fruit trees. AGM staff conduct annual surveys for each of these pests, and inspect the state’s nearly 9,000 greenhouses, retail markets, and nursery growers and dealers for compliance with invasive plant regulations. Horticultural inspectors also monitor for invasive pests and diseases, such as European pepper moth and boxwood blight that are harmful to New York’s lands.

Learn more about the invasive species that are a concern for New York agriculture at AGM’s website.

Scheduled ISAW events include:

√ Statewide webinars on a variety of topics including “Storytelling and Language of Invasive Species Outreach,” and “Landscape Sustainability for Pollinator Restoration”;

√ Guided hikes and paddles to learn how to identify and remove invasive species; and

√ Screenings of “Uninvited: The Spread of Invasive Species.”

Anyone interested in participating in an ISAW event, including the daily webinars, is encouraged to visit the New York Invasive Species Awareness Week Events webpage to find a complete list of offerings.

In the 2024-25 state budget, Gov. Kathy Hochul maintained Environmental Protection Fund funding at $400 million, the highest level of funding in the program's history. The EPF includes $18.55 million targeted specifically for invasive species related initiatives. It also provides funding for critical environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, enhanced recreational access, water quality improvement, and an aggressive environmental justice agenda.

Everyone can make a difference in the fight against invasives by helping locate and map infestations, using only local firewoodproperly cleaning watercraft before and after boating, cleaning dirt off boots after hiking, and removing invasive species from their yard. To learn more about invasive species and how to get involved, visit DEC's website.

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