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For Release: Friday, July 11, 2014

DEC Announces Collaborative Efforts with Paul Smith's College and The East Shore Schroon Lake Association

to Combat The Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

MOU also signed with SUNY Oneonta for Zebra Mussel Research

In recognition of the state's first Invasive Species Awareness Week, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens today announced that DEC has initiated an aquatic invasive species (AIS) spread prevention pilot program this summer in cooperation with Paul Smith's College and the East Shore Schroon Lake Association. The pilot program will evaluate the flushing of a boat's water holding compartments to prevent the spread of zebra mussel larvae and other microscopic aquatic invasive species that might be in the remnant water found in these areas of a boat.

"Boats that are not properly drained and dried prior to use are a major risk for spreading various AIS from water body to water body," Commissioner Martens said. "This pilot program will evaluate the practicality and boater acceptance of flushing these water holding compartments prior to launching."

As part of this effort, boat launch stewards at DEC boat launches on Cranberry Lake (St. Lawrence County), Second Pond (Franklin County), Great Sacandaga Lake (Fulton/Saratoga counties) and Schroon Lake will ask boaters to flush the bilge, livewells and baitwells if these areas contain remnant water from a prior boating trip. Stewards will direct boaters that arrive with a boat hull infested with zebra mussels to a boat cleaning facility, or a marine repair shop that provides this service. The stewards will test various types of spray equipment that can be employed at boat launches that typically lack electricity and water. They will also assess the receptivity of boaters to this program.

"Our ultimate goal is to develop a simple and effective methodology that boaters can follow that provides the desired protection from the spread of AIS, but at the same time does not unduly burden boaters or overly restrict boating," added Commissioner Martens. "We are thankful for the cooperation of the Paul Smith's College Adirondack Watershed Institute Stewardship Program and the East Shore Schroon Lake Association, and we hope to develop a program that can be expanded to additional boat launch facilities in the future."

"We are happy to be working with DEC to test a new method of flushing interior boat compartments," said Eric Holmlund, director of the Adirondack Watershed Institute Stewardship Program. "We hope some version of this new procedure will be both effective at removing small-bodied organisms and efficient in terms of convenience for the boating public. Most importantly, we hope it spreads the message to boat owners that even small amounts of water carried in live wells, bilge areas and motors present a risk of spreading aquatic invasive species, which can cause costly ecological disruption."

Rich Nawrot of the East Side Schroon Lake Association (ESSLA) said, "ESSLA welcomes the opportunity to work in collaboration with the DEC in putting forth this pilot program as an additional effort to stem the tide of AIS. The flushing of water holding compartments on boats will serve to compliment our current boat inspection program which is being conducted by our four highly motivated lake stewards. The stewards are on duty seven days a week at the Horicon boat launch."

DEC will also collaborate with SUNY Oneonta on a two-year research project evaluating various methods that boaters may employ to rid their boats of larval or adult zebra or quagga mussels. In addition to the flushing protocol being employed as part of the pilot projects, renowned zebra mussel researcher Dr. David Wong will investigate the effectiveness of other techniques a boat owner can employ, including the use of car wash facilities and salt and potassium chloride solutions.

"It is worth recognizing that equipment used to provide the high temperatures and pressures of water now required for standardly quoted procedures for boat cleaning is hardly ever attained," said Willard Harman, director of the SUNY Oneonta Biological Field Station on Otsego Lake. "Weather, varying distances of boats from nozzle conditions and the quality of coverage by different individuals all negatively impact satisfactory results. These kinds of research need to be undertaken to minimize concerns."

Boaters are reminded that new regulations are now in place that require boats to be drained and the boat, trailer and associated equipment cleaned of all visible plant and animal material prior to launching or leaving a DEC land from which a boat can be launched.

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