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For Release: Thursday, May 25, 2017

DEC and Paul Smith College Partner to Protect Adirondacks Against Aquatic Invasive Species

Aquatic Invasive Species Protection Includes Boat Stewards and Decontamination Stations to protect local waterbodies

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, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today.

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.

"This valuable partnership with Paul Smiths College is an important step in Governor Cuomo's ongoing efforts to preserve the Adirondacks' vast waterways from aquatic invasive species and AIS' potential harm to the environment, human health, and the economy of the region," Commissioner Basil Seggos said.

The partnership will place 53 boat stewards and decontamination operators at 28 sites throughout the Adirondacks. The stewards, hired and trained by Paul Smiths College, will 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).

Sites will have steward coverage throughout the peak recreational boating season from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Stewards will 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.

This partnership shows Governor Cuomo's commitment to implementing the recommendations of the recently updated New York Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan (AISMP). Expanding boat steward programs and ensuring consistency of steward program delivery statewide is among the AISMP's top 10 priority actions. Strategically placed boat stewards help prevent the spread of AIS by delivering AIS spread prevention education and outreach, conducting courtesy boat and trailer inspections, and showing boaters how to inspect and remove plants and organisms from their boats, trailers, and other equipment.

Governor Cuomo increased funding for invasive species control to $12 million from the EPF in the 2017-18 State Budget, including a $2 million grant program for communities and groups across New York. This funding will provide critical support for prevention and eradication activities through programs like the Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) that protect against threats to New York's biodiversity, economy, and human health.

Invasive species are detrimental because of their ability to reproduce quickly, outcompete native species, and adapt to new environments. Because invasive species did not evolve with the other species in their new location, they often do not have natural predators and diseases that would normally control their population within their native habitat. Economists estimate that invasive species cost the United States more than $120 billion in damages every year.

Senator Betty Little said, "While we continue to make good progress mitigating the spread of invasive species, thanks to the efforts of DEC, Paul Smiths College, our lake associations and many others, this is a battle in which vigilance and persistence is absolutely essential. I was pleased to support funding in this year's budget because I know it is essential and will be put to very good use."

Assemblyman Billy Jones said, "Once an aquatic invasive species takes over, it can have a devastating impact on our lakes, ponds, rivers and other bodies of water and waterways. New York's State's partnership with Paul Smith's will undoubtedly work to protect our Adirondack home owners and those seeking to visit the beauty of the North Country region. Paul Smith's has an esteemed reputation and a profound understanding of their surroundings; I am delighted to see this partnership thrive which seeks to preserve the splendor and integrity of our region."

"We are honored to be a critical part of New York's response to the challenge presented to our communities by the overland transport of aquatic invasives on recreational watercraft," said Dr. Eric Holmlund, director of the Adirondack Watershed Institute Stewardship Program. "The Adirondack program represents the convergence of vision, community involvement, and strategically placed resources to save the highest quality waters in the state. We hope our friendly and diligent lake stewards help people to keep their watercraft clean, drained and dry whether an inspector is present or not. This program is another example of New York state's investment in a vulnerable community resource, benefitting both local communities and all New Yorkers who cherish 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. Be sure to check 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:

  1. CLEAN boats, trailers, and equipment of any debris and dispose of it in an upland area or receptacle provided for this purpose.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 please view the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBDgs8mBGy4&t=192s.

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