The New York state legislature has been working to address a number of bills as the session winds to a close this week. Lawmakers recently passed a measure to extend an invasive species law. Advocates were hoping the measure would be made permanent, but say the year extension will give them time to craft a stronger law.
Five years ago New York passed a law to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by prohibiting “…the launching of watercraft or floating docks without taking reasonable precautions to remove visible plant or animal matter by washing, draining and drying.” The law expired on May 31st but lawmakers renewed it for one year on June 6. "On a motion by Mr. Englebright the Senate bill is advanced. Clerk will record the vote."
Clerk: "Ayes 99. No’s zero."
"The bill is passed."
Adirondack Council Spokesman John Sheehan notes that they had wanted the law to require decontamination of all boats before entering any Adirondack waterway. "We would prefer of course to see a comprehensive requirement that you have a boat decontaminated before it is launched in any water in the Adirondacks. We were not able to persuade the legislature to do that this year but we were able to ask them and get their consent to simply renew the current law for one year so that we had time to make a case for why we should have comprehensive mandatory boat inspection in the Adirondacks.”
Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program Director Brendan Quirion says an extension allows the time to craft a law with mandatory standards. “Right now we’re hoping it will ideally be made permanent or extended for at least five years. The reason we want to see that is most of the other aquatic invasive species prevention programs that are being advanced throughout the state are under five year contracts with the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation. So it’d be nice to have this regulation line up with the prevention programming that’s already underway so that those boat launch stewards and those boat decontamination stations that are out there have some teeth behind the message that they’re sharing with boaters in requiring them to do the right thing and have their boat clean drained and dry.”
The Adirondack Watershed Institute has coordinated a stewardship program for 20 years with free inspections at boat launches throughout the Adirondacks. Executive Director Dan Kelting says the primary way invasives move between water bodies is on boats and boat trailers, yet awareness of the problem varies. “In this area of the Adirondacks we’ve had stewards at the boat launch sites starting 20 years ago so most boaters that are coming to this area have encountered our stewards and have heard the message about why we care about invasive species and why they should take steps to remove them. You go to other areas, maybe on the fringes of the Park, boaters may not be aware of the problem. So some boaters know some boaters don’t. You know that’s why we need to have stewards, that’s why we need to have a law, that’s why we need to have boat decontamination stations and hopefully also public messaging to help people change their behavior and also comply with clean drain dry standards.”
This summer the Watershed Institute will coordinate 65 boat launch sites across the Adirondacks with 125 stewards, the largest invasive spread prevention stewardship program in New York. Lake George and Loon Lake in Chestertown are the only communities in the park that mandate pre-launch boat inspections.