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NYS has new tools to fight the spread of invasive species in the Adirondacks

Emily Russell

New York State has new tools to fight the spread of invasive species in the Adirondacks. The Adirondack Park Agency approved new measures at its meeting last week. Meanwhile, a court has temporarily blocked the use of an herbicide to fight an invasive species on Lake George.

The APA had recently approved a special use of an herbicide on Lake George for this month. But the Lake George Association pushed back, challenging that decision in court. On Monday, a judge in Warren County granted an injunction in that case against the APA, halting the use of herbicides on Lake George until the case has concluded.

Lake George is one of many water bodies around the park affected by the spread of invasive species in recent decades.

Every summer tens of thousands of people launch motorboats in the Adirondacks. Many are local or from around the state, but a lot of folks also come from out of state. Data from the Adirondack Watershed Institute found that people come from 40 states to go boating in the park.

And those boats can bring unwanted invasive species into the region.

To limit the spread of invasive species, AWI has watershed stewards at 46 of the most popular boat launches in the park. Along with inspecting boats, stewards are now also issuing certificates.

As of last week, folks who launch motor boats inside the park and in a 10-mile radius around the park are now required to show a certificate that they’ve cleaned, drained, and dried their boat. If there’s not a steward to issue that certificate, the state requires that people print the certificate and fill it out themselves.

There are dozens of places to clean your boat at launches around the park. Those decontamination sites were discussed at last week’s Adirondack Park Agency meeting. But as APA’s Megan Phillip explained to board members, those sites are temporary.

“So moving those sheds is time-consuming, it's costly, and sometimes results in damage to the equipment, so we’re looking to find a permanent solution as we know that the AIS [aquatic invasive species] problem is one that is not going away,” said Phillips.

The APA board voted unanimously to make those boat washing sites permanent. Phillips also presented the board with a new draft of how the APA manages invasive species in the park.

Right now, the agency uses best management practices from 2018, which Phillips said are out of date and don’t give the state enough leeway on defining invasive species and treating them.

“We’re seeking to enable DEC and APA to have more flexibility and offer more timely response to new species of concern and utilizing the best available science and treatment technologies with our update to these guidelines.”

The APA board voted unanimously to approve the draft. Those best management practices now go out for a 30-day public comment period.

Emily Russell covers the Adirondack State Park for NCPR.