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APA Commissioners Assess the Economy of Invasive Species

By Pat Bradley


Ray Brook, NY – Adirondack Park Agency Commissioners recently heard reports on the incursion and economic ramifications of invasive beetles and plants as they try to determine potential preventative actions.

During their regular monthly meeting, the Adirondack Park Agency Board heard from Purdue University Professor of Agricultural Economics Otto Doering about the potential economic impact invasive species could have on the Adirondack Park. Dr. Doering characterized invasives as a "wicked" problem for the Adirondacks.

"As I look at something like invasive species, there are moments when you have to make a decision and go with something," said Doering.

"The one thing you can demonstrate to people is the difference it makes economically if you get on the thing early. And that if you get behind the curve on the thing, you are dead meat from an economic standpoint, from a logistical point."

But getting ahead, or staying ahead, of invasive encroachment is a challenge. APA Chairman Curt Stiles agrees that invasives will impact the Adirondack economy - whether they are plant, aquatic or insect. Stiles says the real issue the Agency must grapple with is the cost of control efforts.

"The costs of preventing and really addressing some of these issues can be astronomical," said Stiles. "And that's the real challenge that we face and that's one of the key points Dr. Doering put out is that you've got to step up and spend the money soon enough to where you'll get a return. If you wait too late, it will always cost you more, and the longer you wait, the less effective it becomes."

The Commissioners heard Dr. Doering's presentation on the economics of invasives, and also received an update on efforts to detect and track two insect invasive species: the Emerald Ash Borer and the Asian LongHorned Beetle. Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program Coordinator Hilary Smith says both presentations came at a critical time.

"There have been a lot of reports, this summer in particular, about invasives not just in the Adironadacks but across New York state," said Smith. "Certainly with invasives, we often talk about the ecological consequences, but it's really the economic impacts that make people wake up to the problem.

And those problems continue to thrive and increase, with Hilary Smith rating the Asian Long-Horned Beetle as the most worrisome current invasive.

"And that's largely because it effects such a variety of tree species," she said. "Obviously we have a lot of forest and landscape here so we have a lot to lose. The latest aquatic invasive on the scene is spiny water flea which was detected in great Sacandaga Lake and has the potential to really wreak havoc in the fisheries and other waterways in the Adirondacks as well as Lake Champlain. For plants, we've been fighting purple loo striped Japanese knotweed and garlic. There are other species that seem to be spreading which include swallow wort and oriental bittersweet."

A link to the video of the APA meeting and presentation is available thru our website: wamc dot org