PLATTSBURGH — A bill to help stop the spread of invasive aquatic species in the Adirondacks has now been passed in the state Assembly as well as the Senate, clearing the way for the governor’s approval.
“Invasive aquatic species present a serious threat to both our environment and our economy,” Assemblyman D. Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay Lake) who sponsored the bill, said in a statement.
“These pests carry harmful diseases which can infect native plants and animals and damage local ecosystems. Once these species spread, attempting to contain them can be extremely expensive and time-consuming.”
Jones said the bill will focus on preventing the spread before it starts by instituting regular inspections and by educating boaters, which will not only save time and money, but also better safeguard the environment as well.
The measure extends the 2014 aquatic invasive species measures that recently expired and builds upon the law which will authorize the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to establish several inspection stations across the Adirondack Park as a precautionary measure against the propagation of invasive species.
The stations authorized by the bill can be set up at any location in the Adirondack Park and within a 10-mile radius of its border, and would provide certifications for inspection and decontamination in addition to providing direct education and outreach to boaters, which will help prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species.
Sen. Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) was a cosponsor of the legislation in the Senate.
“I was confident we could find agreement in both houses to make this important law permanent,” Stec said.
“I greatly appreciate the work of Sen. Todd Kaminsky and his office. Though it took a little longer than expected, legislative approval this week is great news for our waterways.”
A diverse group of Adirondack Common Ground Alliance stakeholders also praised state legislators for strengthening protections for Adirondack waters from the unwanted invasive species.
“The enhanced law improves protections for clean water, allows boat inspections and decontamination prior to launch and retrieval, and compliments new funding approved in April to support education and outreach efforts,” Ross Whaley, former chair of the Adirondack Park Agency board, said in a news release.
Many towns and counties across New York state also have local laws in place to prevent the transport of invasive species.
“Aquatic invasive species are indeed a ‘common ground’ issue for the Common Ground Alliance, as identified through cross-sector, Adirondack-wide dialogue and collaboration,” Cali Brooks, president and CEO of Adirondack Foundation, said.
“Lakes are a priceless resource and we applaud everyone working to protect them from the threat of invasives.”
Invasive aquatic plants and animals are among the leading causes of biodiversity loss in freshwater ecosystems, a news release said.
Non-native organisms also negatively impact recreational opportunities for swimming, fishing, and boating, which reduce property values, local tax rolls, and tourism dollars.
“Boat inspection and decontamination only take a few minutes,” Joe Pete Wilson, supervisor of the Town of Keene, in Essex county, said.
“That’s time well invested. It can save a lake or river from being infested by something nobody wants to introduce. And it’s free.”
Once an invasive species establishes itself in new waters, it is very difficult to manage and eradicate. Some communities have spent millions of dollars combatting invasive species, the release said.
“This law doesn’t impose new penalties or create burdensome requirements for boaters,” Willie Janeway, executive director of the Adirondack Council, said.
“It establishes a user-friendly system to verify compliance with the clean, drain, dry requirements already established in law. It supports the existing boat wash and inspection stations to which the public has grown accustomed across the region.”
Email Joe LoTemplio: