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Aquatic Invasive Species Boat Stewards

Watch a short video about how you can help us stop the spread of aquatic invasive species and check out other clips on DEC's YouTube Channel.
A boat steward and a visitor check under a motorboat

New York has more than 7,000 lakes, ponds, and rivers that could potentially be exposed to dozens of harmful aquatic invasive species (AIS). One of the main pathways for transfer of aquatic invasive species between waterbodies is recreational water vehicles (e.g. motor boats, canoes, kayaks, jet skis).

For this reason the top priority of the statewide AIS management plan is to expand the coverage of boat stewardship programs across the state, particularly in popular, high-use areas. In-person interactions with boaters, anglers, and other recreational water users raises awareness about aquatic invasive species and practices that reduce the chance of spreading aquatic invaders, such as cleaning, draining, and treating boats and gear. Read more about the practices required to prevent the spread of AIS (PDF).

In 2019 our boat stewards educated more than 495,000 water recreationists and inspected more than 275,000 watercraft at 200+ locations.

Statewide/Watercraft Inspection Steward Program: Protecting New York's Waters

Boat stewards are volunteers or paid members of your community who help protect New York State's waters. An encounter with a steward will involve being asked if you already practice preventive measures and receiving instruction about how to inspect and "clean, drain, and treat" your watercraft and equipment. You will also be asked which waterbody you last visited so that the steward can determine if you are coming from infested waters and what species are there. Boat stewards will have access to this information for many lakes and ponds through the iMapInvasives website (leaves DEC website). Boat stewards have a wealth of information about aquatic invasive species. Feel free to ask them questions!

Locations of Watercraft Inspection Steward Programs

Since 2008, the number of watercraft inspection steward programs has been steadily increasing. As of 2020, boat steward programs are active at 211 locations across New York State.

Many types of organizations host watercraft inspection steward programs including lake associations, colleges and universities, not-for-profits, county soil and water conservation districts, and municipalities. Use our interactive map of watercraft inspection steward locations to find one near you.

For more information about public boat launches in New York State, visit our webpage on all boat launch locations.

Decontamination Stations

If aquatic invasive species are found on your watercraft during inspection, you may be sent to a decontamination station where a trained technician will wash down your boat and trailer using high-pressure hot water.

Resources for Watercraft Inspection Steward Programs

DEC, NYS OPRHP (Parks), New York Sea Grant (NYSG), and several other partners have teamed up to provide support for watercraft inspection steward programs. This team of agencies is making every effort to standardize the training, messaging, and information that is collected and distributed throughout the state.

boat steward inspects kayaks
Boat steward April Brun inspects kayaks.

DEC, Parks, and the NY Natural Heritage Program have adopted the use of the Watercraft Inspection Steward Program Application (WISPA) which is a digital survey with a core of standardized questions. Based on the answers visitors provide to these questions, we are able to see how lakes and rivers are connected within and beyond New York State. We are also compare the aquatic invasive species found by stewards with species reports in the iMapInvasives database (leaves DEC website).

The following resources are available for watercraft inspection steward programs across the state.

Training Tools

Funding

Education and Outreach Supplies

Tip strips:

Signs:

Fact sheets:

Invasive Species Regulations in New York