PLATTSBURGH — With the sparkling waters of Lake Champlain as a backdrop, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand promoted a plan to fight the spread of invasive species.
On a whirlwind tour Friday that also included stops in Lowville, Tupper Lake and Long Lake on Friday, she described the benefits of her invasive-species bill on the Clinton Community College second-floor veranda as dozens of sailboats and other watercraft dotted the lake behind her.
“From the Great Lakes to the Finger Lakes and from the lakes and streams of the Adirondacks to the Hudson River, New York state is blessed with beautiful bodies of water,” Gillibrand said. “These vast natural resources help drive our economy, offer miles of recreation, attract tourists and provide clean drinking water for millions of families.
“If we’re going to protect these resources today and for future generations, we need to prevent the spread of invasive species.”
Gillibrand introduced the Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act of 2013 as an effort to give the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service more support in preventing the transportation of harmful fish and wildlife into the country and to prevent the spread of species already existing in communities.
North Country representative Bill Owens is co-sponsor of similar legislation in the House of Representatives.
“All of these bodies of water are interconnected,” Gillibrand said of Lake Champlain and its reach to the Hudson River, the St. Lawrence River and beyond. “What’s a threat to one is a threat to all.”
The current law governing the import of animals into the United States is more than a century old. Known as the Lacey Act, critics have called it ineffective in protecting the country from thousands of non-native fish and wildlife species, including such invasives as the Burmese python, Asian carp, northern snakehead and, most prominently in Lake Champlain, the zebra mussel.