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New regulations proposed to reduce impact of invasive species

Louisiana Sea Grant College Program Louisiana State University
Hydrilla, an invasive aquatic plant, often gets stuck in boat motors

For years, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and other agencies have been trying to reduce the impact of invasive species like the Emerald Ash Borer and Asian carp. Last year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Invasive Species Prevention Act, requiring the DEC and state Department of Agriculture and Markets to come up with a plan to reduce the impact non-native plants and animals have on the state.

The agencies are now proposing regulations that prohibit knowingly selling, traveling with or introducing certain species into the state.

Leslie Surprenant, director of the DEC's Office of Invasive Species, says the rules are common sense

"The whole purpose is to stem the spread of invasive species through the pathway of commercial sales, because today there is nothing illegal about going out and buying hydrilla and planting it in the wild. On the other hand, the DEC and the state have spent millions of dollars trying to eradicate hydrilla and other invasive species."

Invasive species aren't relegated to only one type of distributor, either.

"Today, any number of invasive species can be purchased either through the landscape and nursery trade, or the aquarium and pet trade."

Surprenant also says the rules were developed with the help of several industry and environmental groups.

"These regulations were not developed in a vacuum. We developed them in close coordination, cooperation, collaboration with industry, with academia and with conservation groups, so it's been very transparent. It's been a long time in coming."

Four public meetings about the proposed regulations have been scheduled throughout the state, including one in Syracuse on December 11. Comments may be submitted through December 23.