Aquatic invasive species are a significant problem in the Adirondacks due to the abundance of waterways in the region. To protect Adirondack waterways, the New York State DEC is expanding its partnership with the Adirondack Watershed Institute Stewardship Program at Paul Smith’s College.
The Partnership & Stewards
This new partnership involves the placement of 53 boat stewards and decontamination operators at 28 sites throughout the Adirondacks. These stewards were hired and trained by Paul Smith’s College and will be on the alert for aquatic invasive species, or AIS.
The stewards will:
- Educate boaters on signs of AIS on watercraft and trailers
- Conduct courtesy watercraft and trailer inspections
- Clean boats that need it using high pressure and hot water decontamination units
- Be present at certain sites during peak recreational boating season
- Spread AIS prevention education and outreach
This program will cost $1.4 million and is funded through the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Governor Andrew Cuomo has increased funding for all invasive species to $12 million through the EPF in the 2017-18 State Budget.
About Aquatic Invasive Species
AIS can truly be detrimental to our waterways. These species disrupt native species, are able to reproduce quickly, and are excellent at adapting to new environments. Because they’re not native to this area, they often have no predators to naturally control their population. AIS can completely take over various waterways and habitats, devastating local species and the environment.
AIS in our area include zebra mussels, Eurasian milfoil, spiny waterfleas, Asian clams, Chinese mystery snails, and water chestnut.
Just as one example of how destructive these invasive species are: water chestnut is a rooted aquatic plant that forms dense floating mats in the water. It completely takes over bodies of water, eliminating native plants and diminishing oxygen levels, leading to the death of fish and other aquatic organisms.
It’s estimated that invasive species cost our country more than $120 billion in damages every year.
How do these species get here in the first place? They’re often transported on boats and trailers, which is why proper inspections and the cleaning of watercraft is so important.
What You Can Do to Help
The DEC is advising boaters and anglers to check all boats, trailers, boating equipment, and fishing equipment for any plants or animals. Then, follow the Clean, Drain, Dry standard:
- Clean: Clean boats, trailers, and equipment of any debris and dispose of it in an upland area or a receptacle that is specified for this purpose.
- Drain: Drain the boat or watercraft completely. Some AIS can survive in as little as one drop of water.
- Dry: Dry all equipment for at least five days before using it in another body of water. An even longer drying period may be required during damp or cool times.
“Once an aquatic invasive species takes over, it can have a devastating impact on our lakes, ponds, rivers, and other bodies of water and waterways,” Assemblyman Billy Jones said in a statement. “New York State’s partnership with Paul Smith’s will undoubtedly work to protect our Adirondack homeowners and those seeking to visit the beauty of the North Country region.”