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Advocates Call On New York Legislature To Extend Invasive Species Law

Invasive steward sign
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Invasive steward sign

A New York law that prohibits watercraft from launching into waters without taking precautions to prevent the spread of invasive species is set to expire at the end of the month. Adirondack advocates are urging the state legislature to renew and expand the provision.
A section of New York Environmental Conservation Law pertaining to invasive species states that no one “..shall launch a watercraft or floating dock unless it can be demonstrated that reasonable precautions such as the removal of any visible plant or animal matter, washing, draining or drying…have been taken.”  The law was passed five years ago with a sunset provision effective June 1st  unless the legislature takes action.
Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program Director Brendan Quirion says it’s the only regulation that has provided teeth to the clean-drain-dry approach being used to prevent the spread of invasive species.  “With this regulation boaters are required to take that reasonable precaution.  What that really means is that they need to be practicing clean-drain-dry before they launch into any New York water body. If they follow that approach the likelihood for introducing or spreading invasive species is very slim and that’s why it’s so important.  What we’ve found with this particular regulation is there has really been no conflict with users. People are very compliant with the regulation and want to do the right thing in practicing clean-drain-dry.  So the sunset clause was for the end of May so now is the point where we need to ensure that it’s continued, extended and ideally made permanent so that this would never happen again.”

The Adirondack Council has found that the law made a difference in awareness and in limiting the spread of invasives. Spokesman John Sheehan says the group wants the provision renewed and made permanent.  “We think that this would have a big impact on stemming the tide of invasive species into the Adirondack Park’s waters. We are very lucky that because of our isolation from other more busy parts of the state a lot of the Park’s interior waters do not have invasive species in them at all at the moment and some that have been infested have only one or two that are affecting the ecosystem but haven’t caused dramatic change quite yet. So we are in a position where we can keep the Park from being significantly affected by this but we have to take action now. It’s something that’s necessary for the Park’s continued health.”

Both groups are lobbying the state legislature to extend the law and the Adirondack Council would also like a new provision requiring all boats be decontaminated before entering any Adirondack waters.  But Quirion doesn’t think there’s time to add such a provision before the session ends in mid-June.  “Ideally we would want to see it made permanent but at the very least I’d like to see it extended for at least five years. At this point I’m pretty optimistic as far as it being extended. If we were to push for anything above and beyond that, whether it be for more stringent standards like mandatory boat inspection decontamination or potentially making it permanent, that might require more time.  But I am optimistic that it will be at least extended.”

Loon Lake and Lake George are the only places in the Adirondacks that mandate inspections before putting boats or other craft into the water.

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