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For Release: Wednesday, May 9, 2012

DEC Begins Emergency Rule-Making for Hydrilla Infestation Treatment

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation adopted an emergency rule to allow for herbicide treatment to combat hydrilla, an invasive plant species that has plagued parts of the Cayuga Inlet since last summer, the agency announced today.

"Immediate action is necessary to stop the spread of hydrilla to preserve native plants and indigenous aquatic ecosystems throughout New York state," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. "By amending the regulation to allow the use of fluridone pellets, DEC is helping control the infestation of a destructive species that threatens the Finger Lakes economy and habitat."

The emergency regulation allows the use of fluridone pellets in waters less than two feet deep for 90 days. Upon expiration, DEC intends to renew the temporary, emergency regulation until a permanent rule is in place. The rule amends 6 NYCRR 326.2(b)(4)(ii), which prohibits the application of fluridone pellet formulations in waters less than two feet deep.

Hydrilla is considered to be among the most invasive aquatic plants in North America, and has resulted in significant ecological, recreational and economic impacts in other regions of the country. Its biological traits enable it to out-compete native species and dominate aquatic ecosystems due to its ability to grow in a variety of environmental settings and to propagate and spread from fragments, turions (overwintering buds) and tubers (reproductive structures attached to plant rhizomes).

Hydrilla and other aquatic plants move easily between waters on boats and trailers. The latest infestation is near the Allen Treman Marine State Park and several private boatyards, which greatly increases the risk of spread. Cayuga Inlet and Cayuga Lake are part of New York's historic Erie Canal system which connects the Finger Lakes, Great Lakes and the Mohawk and Hudson rivers. This infestation poses an extreme threat to the local economy and to aquatic ecosystems far beyond Cayuga Lake. Prior to this discovery, the only other known locations were small, isolated occurrences on Long Island and in Orange County where the risk of spread is greatly reduced.

For more information on preventing the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species, visit DEC's website.

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