Governor Signs Invasive Species Prevention Act
Keene Valley,NY- By signing the Invasive Species Prevention Act, Governor Andrew Cuomo upholdsNew York’s position of national leadership for environmental conservation, while protectingNew York’s vital farming, forestry, fishing and tourism industries.
The new law, a collaborative effort by state agencies and stakeholders, including conservation organizations, lake associations, agriculture and forestry organizations, scientists and academia, was unanimously passed in June by the New York State Legislature. The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) and Senator Betty Little (R-Queensbury) to create a statewide regulatory system to prohibit or limit the sale and transport of known invasive plants and animals that threaten our communities, natural areas and job creating industries that depend on natural resources.
The Nature Conservancy commends the Governor and the Legislature for enacting this critical piece of legislation to abate threats toNew York’s lands and waters posed by invasive species.
“This is an important milestone and a huge step forward forNew YorkState. At a time when community resources are already being stretched to the limit, this bill will ease the burden of management costs down the road by preventing new introductions of harmful invasives,” said Troy Weldy, The Nature Conservancy’s representative on the New York State Invasive Species Advisory Committee.
Legislation Prevent Spread of Dangerous Plants and Animals
Invasive species are non-native plants and animals that cause harm to the environment and/or human health and put at risk economically important industries including farming, forestry, tourism, and commercial and recreational fishing. Invasive species are expensive to manage or eradicate and cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year. Invasive plants such as dog strangling vine smother agricultural crops and aquatic invasive species like Eurasian water milfoil reduce water quality, property values and recreational boating opportunities. Nationally, the impact of invasive species is estimated at $167 billion annually.
With more than a decade of collaborative work with local and statewide programs to address invasives through integrated approaches, such as early detection – rapid response, pathway mitigation, education, and strategic management, the Conservancy recognizes the significance of this bill. The Invasive Species Prevention Act recognizes the gravity of the threat and importance of statewide action.
“We have seen the economic and environmental impacts that invasive species can have,” said Michael Carr, Executive Director of the Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter. “Whether it’s Eurasian watermilfoil choking one of our lakes, Japanese knotweed degrading river corridors, or emerald ash-borer threatening our forests, we must reduce or eliminate the spread of invasive species. We have a collective obligation to conserve our natural resources and the value they provide toNew York’s economy.”
New York’sAdirondackregion remains relatively free of invasive species. Two out of three waters surveyed by volunteers are free of aquatic invasive plants such as Eurasian watermilfoil. The average size of a Japanese knotweed infestation and other terrestrial invasive plants is less than 0.1 acres in the interiorAdirondacks. This presents a real opportunity to hold the line of spread.
The Invasive Species Prevention Act, sponsored by theAdirondack’s own Senator Little and co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Sayward, gives regional efforts the extra boost needed to be successful by making it illegal to sell and transport invasive species in the state.
The Invasive Species Prevention Act requires the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to develop regulations for the sale, purchase, possession, introduction, importation and transport of invasive species. Additionally these agencies will develop a list, with consultation from stakeholders, of prohibited species unlawful to possess with the intent to sell or introduce, as well as three lower tiers of regulated species that would be legal to possess, sell, buy, propagate and transport with restrictions.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have helped protect 130 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at http://www.nature.org/.