The Lake George Association (LGA) is supporting a bill on invasive species recently introduced in the New York State Legislature by Assemblyman Robert K. Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst). The bill would authorize the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to establish a list of invasive species that will be prohibited from being sold, transported, and introduced in New York State. Similar laws have already been passed in Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
“Invasive species can present devastating threats to the ecology of New York, and to its recreational and economic health,” local Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, the co-prime sponsor of the bill, said. “We need to do all we can to control existing invasives from spreading, and new invasives from being introduced,” she added.
Once introduced, invasive species are expensive to eradicate and manage, and threaten valuable industries in New York State. $167 billion is spent each year nationally to address only the economic impact of invasive species, according to LGA. Invasive species can prevent access to waterways, hinder fishing, and imapact forests and farms.
If passed, the proposed law call on the DEC to develop a system for regulating the sale, purchase, possession, introduction, importation and transport of invasive species. The system would contain two lists: one of prohibited species, and a second of regulated species. In addition, a permit would be required for prohibited species disposal, control, research and education.
In addition, the DEC would have the authority to:
· Establish state-wide databases of invasive species, incorporating data from agencies both within and outside the state;
· Coordinate actions to promote and phase out the use of invasive species and to expand the use of native species, both in state government and the private sector; and,
· Aid in the review and reform of regulations that unnecessarily impede the restoration of invaded ecosystems.
“Many of our neighboring states throughout New England have already established laws of this kind, including ,” said Emily DeBolt, LGA Director of Education. “It behooves New York State to do the same so that we can work together regionally to help prevent the spread and introduction of invasive species,” she said.
Photo: Michael Abrahamson, LGA lake steward, inspects a boat for invasive species at the Dunham’s Bay launch in 2011.