Saturday, September 27, 2008

DEC Grants Available for Invasive Species

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today that grant applications are now being accepted for projects proposing to eradicate terrestrial invasive species. Terrestrial invasive species is defined as a plant or animal that lives or grows predominately on land. Applications will be accepted until October 31, 2008

DEC is making up to $1 million in state grants available to municipalities and not-for-profit organizations for projects to eradicate and/or permanently remove infestations of terrestrial invasive species throughout the state. The funding for these grants was secured in the 2008-09 enacted state budget, through the Environmental Protection Fund. State funds can be used to pay for up to one-half of the cost of selected projects. Individual grants for terrestrial eradication proposals will be awarded for projects that range from $2,500, up to $100,000.

Invasive species are non-native species that can cause harm to the environment and may result in ecological or economic problems. Some terrestrial invasive plants, such as garlic mustard flower and Giant hogweed, were introduced in New York State by individuals who purposely brought them back from foreign habitats. Various species of terrestrial invasive insects, such as the Sirex wood wasp and the Asian Longhorn Beetle, also “hitchhiked” to New York in wooden shipping crates from foreign points of origin.

One common way many of these insect pests are moved around the country – beyond their natural rate of spread based on biology and flight potential – is on firewood carried by campers, hunters and other users of state forests. People may not be aware they are moving the eggs or larvae of these pests, which may be hidden on or under the bark or buried deep within the logs. Once transported to new locations, eggs may hatch, or larvae may mature and emerge to attack host trees in and around the area. DEC advises people not to transport firewood to campgrounds or parks in an effort to limit the spread of invasive insect species and improve forest health.

Control and management of invasive species are critical and challenging environmental concerns. Invasive species harm ecosystems, food supplies, landscaping, industry and infrastructure and have the potential to cause millions of dollars of damage to our public and private forests. They can rapidly and dramatically reshape the landscape of New York State while causing a threat to the state’s biodiversity. More information about how the State is addressing this problem can be found on the DEC website or by calling 1-866-640-0652

The 2008-09 enacted state budget includes $5 million in the Environmental Protection Fund to implement New York State’s Invasive Species Task Force recommendations. For more information on the task force, visit DEC’s website.

Application materials for Invasive Species Eradication Grants have been mailed to municipalities throughout the state. Copies are also available on the DEC website or by calling DEC’s Division of Lands and Forests at (518) 402-9425. All project applications must be postmarked by October 31, 2008.

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