PLATTSBURGH — A new bill being considered by New York state lawmakers would help prohibit the spread and introduction of invasive species across the state.
Sen. Betty Little recently introduced the legislation to the New York State Senate as a companion to a similar one put forth by Assemblyman Bob Sweeney and co-supported by Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward.
The legislation would provide the state's Department of Environmental Conservation with explicit authority to regulate the sale, purchase, possession, introduction, importation and transport of invasive species and would establish penalties for those who violate such regulations.
"This is a huge problem in our country and a huge problem in the Adirondacks and all of our lakes," Little said of the continued spread of invasive species. "It affects the quality of our environment, and it affects the value of our property. The spread of invasives on our land and in our water is a rapidly growing problem."
Invasive species, such as water milfoil and zebra mussels, out-compete native species and diminish biological diversity. As invasive species take hold in fields, forests, streams and lakes, they change a region's entire ecosystem and have caused widespread and costly damage.
Supporters believe the new legislation would help reduce the potential impact invasive species have on communities.
"This will help close down the pathway of our worst invasive species," said Hilary Smith, the current chair for the New York State Invasive Species Advisory Committee. "It will set up a regulatory system to evaluate species and, based on a variety of different criteria, the likelihood of a species spreading.
"The state would be charged with developing a list of species that people are prohibited to sell," she added. "It would basically remove the worst invasive species from being able to be sold in New York state."