ALBANY — The state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Agriculture and Markets hope to raise awareness of the dangers of invasive species across the state with New York’s sixth annual Invasive Species Awareness Week.
The event, which aims to reduce the spread of invasive species by stepping up education and awareness programs, will run through July 13.
In addition, the DEC announced a new pilot program in cooperation with the Lake George Park Commission and the Fund for Lake George at the Mossy Point and Rogers Rock boat launch sites to prevent the introduction of aquatic invasive species. This pilot program aims to complement the state’s existing boat inspection policy to specifically protect Lake George’s unique ecosystem by installing new gates this summer and providing staff to check boats for invasives before entering the lake.
Through October 31, the gates will open before sunrise and remain open until 10 p.m., enabling boaters to head out early enough to go fishing while ensuring the boats are not carrying invasive species.
“Once established, species like hydrilla, emerald ash borer, and spotted lanternfly can spread rapidly, causing harm to the environment, the economy, and human health,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “New York State has made significant investments to combat the threat posed by invasive species.”
“During Invasive Species Awareness Week, New Yorkers have ample opportunities to attend events and learn how to identify, survey, manage, and map invasive species to help protect our valuable natural resources,” Seggos added.
“Invasive species also pose a significant threat to our agricultural crops, affecting the viability and profitability of our farms,” State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said. “We are glad to partner with DEC to help raise awareness about this important issue, and we urge our farmers and all members of our agricultural community, in addition to the public, to be vigilant in watching for and reporting signs of these destructive pests,” he added.
The theme of this year’s program is “Early Detection: Explore, Observe, Report!” and highlights the importance of detecting infestations of invasive species early, which increases the success of response efforts. Invasive species are non-native plants, animals, insects, and pathogens that harm the environment, agriculture, the economy, and human health, the state announcement added.
Invasive Species Awareness Week was initiated by the Invasive Species Council, the Invasive Species Advisory Committee, the eight Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISMs) and partners to provide a variety of educational events across New York ranging from guided hikes and paddling events, to invasive species removal projects, film screenings, and much more. Rapid response and control are critical in minimizing the establishment, and ultimately eradicating, an invasive population, officials said. To support this effort, the 2019 State Budget included a total of $13.3 million in the Environmental Protection Fund targeted specifically to prevent and control invasive species.
The public is also encouraged to report invasive species to iMapInvasives, New York’s invasive species database. A new version of the database,iMapInvasives 3.0, was recently launched and has a more user-friendly, mobile-responsive map display. For more information, please visit www.nyimapinvasives.org.
Cuomo also recently awarded more than $2.8 million in grant funding to various organizations to support invasive species rapid response and control, research, lake management planning, and aquatic invasive species spread prevention programs.
In the Lake George area alone, New York has committed more than $4.3 million to the Lake George Park Commission, including $900,000 for invasive species management in the last two years. These investments are fighting the spread of invasive species, and bolstered by DEC’s extensive prevention and outreach, form a comprehensive plan of attack.
DEC also funded an innovative aquatic invasive species pilot program in the park recognizing the Adirondacks’ ecological and recreational importance. In 2014, new DEC regulations prohibited boats and equipment from entering or leaving DEC launch sites without first being drained and cleaned. In 2016, additional regulations directed boaters to take precautions prior to launching a watercraft or floating dock into public waters—“Clean, Drain and Dry.”
In 2018, DEC’s Adirondack Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Program conducted nearly 100,000 boat inspections to intercept more than 4,600 invasive species incidents. With local partners, DEC initiated a campaign to raise public awareness of the need to prevent the spread of invasives at Lake George, Lake Champlain, and statewide. New York boaters have been—and continue to be—critical partners in these efforts.
The state also works to control and eradicate various invasive species, such as spotted lanternfly, European cherry fruit fly, and plum pox virus, which can harm the New York’s agricultural crops, particularly grapes, hops and fruit trees.
The Department of Agriculture and Markets conducts annual surveys for each of these pests, and inspects 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, boxwood blight, and others that are harmful to plants in New York’s landscapes.