Governor Cuomo Announces First Invasive Species Awareness Week

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Public Awareness Key to Minimizing Spread of Harmful Invasive Species.

Albany, NY - July 7, 2014 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today urged all New Yorkers to take action to protect lands and waters from invasive species that can be harmful to human health, animal habitat, agriculture and tourism by designating this week as New York’s first-ever Invasive Species Awareness Week.

“Invasive species can be a serious problem in communities across New York State, with the potential to damage animal habitats and impede the growth of our tourism and agricultural industries,” Governor Cuomo said. “This week, we are raising awareness of the many ways that people can help protect against unwelcome species in their communities. I encourage all New Yorkers to do their part and learn more about protecting our unparalleled natural environment.”

Invasive Species Awareness Week is a campaign supported by events hosted throughout New York State by 36 organizations. During the week, participants will learn how to identify, survey, map, report or manage invasive species and help remove invasive species from public lands, as well as join experts on the trails or on the water to see invasive species firsthand and attend presentations to become informed about what can be done to help fight these ongoing threats.

Invasive Species Awareness Week is coordinated by The New York State Invasive Species Council (ISC), Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC) and Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISMS). The week's events are hosted by nine agencies represented on the ISC, 25 organizations represented on the ISAC, iMap Invasives and Cornell Cooperative Extension. The ISC is chaired by the state departments of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Agriculture and Markets.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Martens said, “Governor Cuomo recognizes the importance of combating invasive species, allocating $30 million in state funds since 2011 toward preventing their spread. Managing infestations is extremely costly, whether it is removing hazardous trees killed by emerald ash borer, harvesting water chestnut that clogs access to waterways or managing invasive Eurasian boar that threaten natural and agricultural areas. Prevention is the most cost-effective strategy. In the height of the outdoor summer season – whether you are camping, boating, hiking or fishing – everyone can help keep invasive species from spreading.”

New York State Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Invasive species have far-reaching impacts, from the coastlines and waters of Long Island and the Great Lakes to farmlands across the state.  Along with partners throughout the state, we are working to prevent invasive species from harming our agricultural community and consumers.  Invasive Species Awareness Week spotlights the importance of engaging citizen scientists to help detect and report infestations early when the chance of successful eradication is at its highest.”

Hilary Smith, Invasive Species Council chair said, “Clearly invasive species are an important issue in New York, and we applaud the state for taking measures to tip the scale in nature’s favor.  It is great to see state agencies, local governments, industry, academic institutions, environmental organizations and citizen groups working together to prevent and manage invasive species. Through Invasive Species Awareness Week, we are speaking with a shared voice to say ‘New York is worth protecting – you can help, here’s how’.” 

Some invasive species, such as Eurasian watermilfoil, purple loosestrife and Japanese beetles have been present in New York for decades, reducing environmental quality and agricultural productivity. Other arrivals, such as emerald ash borer, hydrilla and plum pox virus, arrived more recently. Such introductions are often preventable.

Recreational Boating Precautions
It is very important that boaters, anglers and other recreational enthusiasts take precautions to avoid transporting this and other invasive species, particularly after leaving waters known to harbor aquatic invasive species.

Clean, Drain & Dry – Inspect your fishing and boating equipment and remove all mud, plants and other organisms that might be clinging to them.  Once clean, ensure that all equipment has been properly drained, paying particular attention to bilge areas, livewells, and baitwells in boats.  Drying is the most effective "disinfection" mechanism and is least likely to damage sensitive equipment and clothing. All fishing and boating equipment, clothing and other gear should be dried completely before moving to another body of water. This may take a week or more depending upon the type of equipment, where it is stored and weather conditions. A basic rule of thumb is to allow at least 48 hours for drying most non-porous fishing and boating gear at relative humidity levels of 70 percent or less. Steps should be taken to actively disinfect fishing and boating equipment if it cannot be dried before its use in another body of water.

DEC adopted new regulations that require boaters to remove all visible plant and animal materials from boats, trailers and associated equipment, and to drain boats prior to launching and after retrieving from DEC lands.

Firewood Transportation and Use
DEC also advises residents to use local firewood and learn about, look for and report invasive species. A regulation is in effect that prohibits people from importing firewood into New York unless it has been heat treated to kill pests. The regulation also limits transporting untreated firewood to less than 50 miles from its source. By transporting firewood, you could possibly spread diseases and invasive insects that can quickly kill a large number of trees. Residents and visitors should use local firewood and learn about, look for and report invasive species.

Invasive Species Awareness Week Events
Additional information and a complete list of more than 100 events are available on the NY Invasive Species Awareness Week website. Here is a sampling from around the state:

Adirondacks:
July 8, Hemlock and Balsam Woolly Adelgid Symposium, Indian Lake Ski Hut, Indian Lake

Capital/Mohawk:
July 12, How Invasive Pests and Plants Shape Our Forest and Backyard Ecosystems Guided Hike, Rensselaerville

Catskills:
July 11, Invasive Species Stream Walk, Neversink Stream Program, Catskill

Finger Lakes:
July 7 – 9, Invasive Species Teacher Training, Finger Lakes Institute, Geneva

Long Island:
July 12, Garlic Mustard Pull, Knotweed Dig and Barbecue, Tanners Pond Environmental Center, Garden City

Lower Hudson:
July 12, NY Botanical Garden Native and Invasive Plant Tour, Bronx

St. Lawrence Eastern Lake Ontario:
July 12, Volunteer Invasive Species Monitoring, Pine Grove State Boat Launch, Pulaski

Western NY:
July 9, Invasive Species Education and Workday, Tifft Nature Preserve, Buffalo

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