Park Agency Restricts General Use of Invasive Smothering Mats
Adirondack Park Agency commissioners have approved a General Permit for management of aquatic invasive species. The permit restricts the use of mats that are used to smother non-native species like the Asian Clam, due to concerns that native shoreline ecosystems are being adversely affected.
Last week the Adirondack Park Agency commissioners took action to fast track permitting for benthic mats and hand harvesting to kill invasive species in Adirondack lakes. Benthic mats are plastic mats that are laid over the invasive to smother them. Agency scientists told commissioners that large acreage deployments of the mats are significantly impacting native species in freshwater wetland areas, and there is not enough data to determine their recovery. The new permit restricts use of the mats to 3 acres. APA Spokesman Keith McKeever says the new permitting allows for a rapid response to combat invasives while balancing the return of native species.
In Lake George, several acres of benthic mats have been deployed to kill Asian Clams. Lake George Association Executive Director Walt Lender has not seen evidence that native species are in danger.
Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Nativsky says the questions the APA is raising regarding the impact on wetlands are reasonable. But based on his experience, he’s uncertain that use of benthic mats prevents resurgence of native species.
Under the General Permit, the benthic barriers are restricted to 3 acres or less. Areas greater than one acre cannot be treated more than twice in two years.