The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing new regulations to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. The new rules are welcome, but lake defenders say they don’t go far enough.
The DEC’s proposed rules apply at DEC boat launches and would require boaters to remove all visible plants and animals from boats, trailers and associated equipment. Boats would have to be drained before launching or leaving a DEC boat launch or waterway access. Lake Champlain Basin Program Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Coordinator Meg Modley says the rules are an excellent and critical effort by the DEC to create regulations to prevent the spread of invasives at their properties. “This is all in an effort to reduce the risk of invasive species spread. and this is looking at one way that species can move across the landscape by hitchhiking on boats and trailers and equipment. There are other pathways by which species move. So it is effective, and it does reduce risk. And what you're really trying to do is make sure that you’re draining all the water from the boat and from different areas or compartments where water could be hidden, because small body organisms can be in that water. Is that as effective as using a high pressure hot water system to wash the boat and trailer? No. But it is still very effective at removing and reducing the risk of the spread of these invasive species.”
Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board Executive Director and Town of Chester Supervisor Fred Monroe says the proposed rules are good, but too limited. “It’s limited to state launches. It’s limited to species that would be visible on the trailer or boat. Which is good. But we also very concerned in Warren County especially, and on Lake George and the lake I’m on, Loon Lake, about the microscopic organisms. These regulations don’t address that large concern at all. But also there’s no enforcement mechanism. It says right in the regulatory analysis that there is no monetary impact for local government or for state government. So that indicates they’re not going to put any money for enforcement.”
Lake George officials have been struggling to control the incursion of aquatic invasives including milfoil and the Asian Clam. Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky says the DEC’s proposed rules are a step in the right direction. “The important aspect is that DEC has recognized that watercrafts are the major vector for the transport of aquatic invasive species and it is a great step from a year ago here on Lake George when DEC officials at times were questioning whether boats were the actual transport vector for invasive species. So in that aspect, the recognition of this is very important.”
Chris Nativsky agrees with Supervisor Monroe that the DEC has not made the proposed rules strong enough. Navitsky is therefore dubious about the potential effectiveness of the proposed program. “If you have visible invasives or you are not drained, where you go? Are these people not going to be allowed to launch their boats. So where's the wash stations and how is that going to be maintained? And then, how is DEC going to administer this program? I see nothing in the program regarding cost. And I don't see how you can have an effective program with no staffing, with no equipment. So questions remain.”
The DEC will accept public comments on the proposal through February 24th.