Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that New York State is expanding its partnership with Paul Smith College’s Adirondack Watershed Institute Stewardship Program to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) throughout the Adirondack’s waterways through the strategic placement of boat stewards and decontamination stations.
With more than 2,300 lakes and ponds, 1,500 miles of rivers, and 30,000 miles of brooks and streams, the Adirondack region is particularly vulnerable to the introduction of AIS. Once established, AIS such as zebra mussels and Eurasian water milfoil can spread rapidly through connecting waterways or by “hitchhiking” on the propellers, trailers, rudders, and motors of recreational boaters’ and anglers’ vessels.
The partnership are expected to place 53 boat stewards and decontamination operators at 28 sites throughout the Adirondacks. The stewards, hired and trained by Paul Smiths College, are expected to be on the lookout for AIS and will educate arriving boaters on the signs of possible invasive threats on watercraft and trailers. Using high pressure, hot water decontamination units, stewards will also clean boats that have not been cleaned and drained properly, especially those last used in waters with high risk for AIS.
The 2017 program will cost $1.4 million and is funded through the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), according to a statement sent to the press.
Sites are expected to have steward coverage throughout the peak recreational boating season from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. It’s planned for stewards to be present Thursday through Monday, including holidays (Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day) for eight peak usage hours per day.
The program will complement existing AIS-prevention initiatives already underway, including the Adirondack Park Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention Pilot Program and the New York Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention Grant Program, which funds 11 boat steward and decontamination projects in the Adirondacks.
DEC advises boaters and anglers to check boats, trailers and other fishing and boating equipment for any plants or animals that may be clinging to it, including bunks, rollers, trim tabs, and other likely attachment points on boats and trailers. Following a thorough inspection, DEC encourages boaters to follow the CLEAN, DRAIN, and DRY standard:
- 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, so it is imperative that all water is removed.
- 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. Recommended drying times for various seasons (offsite link) can be found at 100th Meridian Initiative website. Drying is the simplest and most effective way to ensure equipment does not transport plants or animals.
For more information on the CLEAN, DRAIN, and DRY approach view this video.
Photo: Michael Abrahamson, a Lake George Association boat launch steward, inspects a boat at Dunham’s Bay in 2011.