RAY BROOK — Boat stewards have been deployed at nearly 200 locations across New York as part of a collaborative program to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species.

“The boat steward partnership program provides a vital function in protecting New York’s waters and raising public awareness about aquatic invaders that could harm the health of our rivers, lakes and streams, as well as the fish and plants that inhabit them,” Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a news release.

“Aquatic invasive species can ruin boating and fishing trips, reduce shoreline property values and undermine the tourism industry,” Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey added.

INSPECTION STATIONS

The State Department of Transportation is working with the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, DEC and State Parks to host boat inspection and decontamination stations.

Sites are being added, including at the new Adirondack Welcome Center being built on Interstate 87 in Queensbury.

Locating regional inspection stations on primary travel corridors helps obviate the need to construct and staff stations at individual lakes and streams, the release said.

CARRIED BY BOATS

Non-native aquatic plants and animals are often transported from waterbody to waterbody on watercraft and equipment.

Boat stewards are volunteers or paid community members who tell boaters and others how to reduce the likelihood of spreading invasive species.

They also help people learn how to inspect, clean, drain and treat watercraft and equipment.

Stewards ask where boaters last launched and can sometimes determine what invasive species are found in the lake or pond visited through the iMapInvasives website at http://www.nyimapinvasives.org.

FIGHTING INVASIVES

DEC and State Parks are working with local governments, lake associations, the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program and Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute to combat invasive species, including Eurasian watermilfoil and spiny water flea, in waterbodies in the Adirondacks.

This effort is funded by the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, including $9 million in funding for a five-year management contract with the Watershed Institute.

In addition, State Parks has entered a partnership with the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry to place boat stewards at about 30 state parks-owned boat launches.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

State regulation requires water recreationists to take reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of invasive species: www.dec.ny.gov/animals/99141.html.

Here are some tips from the state agencies:

• Check boats, trailers and other fishing and boating equipment for any plants or animals that may be clinging to it.

Be sure to check bunks, rollers, trim tabs and other likely attachment points on boats and trailers.

• Clean boats, trailers and equipment of any debris and dispose of it in an upland area or receptacle provided for this purpose.

• Drain the boat completely, including bilge areas, live wells and bait wells.

Water ski and wake board boat operators should be sure to drain all ballast tanks.

Many aquatic invasive species can survive in as little as a drop of water.

• Dry all equipment for at least five days before using it in another water body.

Longer drying times may be required for difficult to dry equipment or during damp or cool periods.

If boating equipment can’t be completely and thoroughly dried, it must be decontaminated before use in another water body. Information on how to do that is available on the DEC website.

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