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State offering grant money to fight invasives

January 25, 2017
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Outdoors Writer ( , Lake Placid News

New York State is offering $2 million in grants to local governments, educational institutions and non-profits working to combat invasive species in the state, the governor announced last week.

The state is accepting grant applications until May 17.

"This funding is critical to bolstering New York's ability to control and remove invasive species that pose a threat to the health and well-being of our communities," Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a press release. "These grants will provide the resources needed to preserve and protect our diverse environment, while ensuring the safety of New Yorkers in every corner of the state."

Article Photos

A watershed steward uses a power washer to hose down a state Department of Environmental Conservation boat last summer.
Photo provided

The grants are available for use in combating both aquatic and terrestrial species.

Gary Lovett of the Cary Institute was the keynote speaker at a symposium in North Creek over the summer and talked about why New York keeps getting forest pests and what the state can do about it. He pointed out that international shipping is the single leading cause of introduced species. New York is under pressure from a number of forest pests, and more like the Asian long-horned beetle, sudden oak death and the wood wasp will likely appear soon, he said.

"They generally don't go away once we've got them," Lovett warned. "Current control measures are doing some good, just not enough."

Eradication of these pests is nearly impossible. Bio-controls, such as introducing predator insects, is expensive and dangerous. Dan Snider, who works on invasives in the Catskills and spoke later at the same symposium, said introducing a predator beetle to attack hemlock wooly adelgid costs between $4 and $8 per beetle.

There are aquatic invasive species as well, and local efforts, like ones by the Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith's College, have been successful over the past several years in limiting introduction of unwanted species.

Started in 1999, the AWI's stewardship program has expanded from Upper Saranac Lake to be a park-wide effort. The stewardship program posts paid and volunteer stewards at boat launches and boat wash stations around the park. In 2015, 73 stewards worked to eliminate introduction of aquatic invasive species like Eurasian water milfoil and curly-leaf pondweed.

According to AWI's 2015 report, which was released in May last year, 73 stewards conducted more than 43,000 boat inspections. These inspections and the advice stewards given to boaters are free to the public, as are the numerous boat washing stations that can be used to clean. That year's efforts resulted in stewards removing 1,125 invasive species fragments from boats before they were launched in Adirondack waterways.

The stewardship program now posts stewards at 40 Adirondack waterbodies and provides 11 decontamination stations, such as the boat wash at the Second Pond boat launch outside of Saranac Lake.

The stewards keep track of not only boats and invasive species that were found, but also provided education on invasives to nearly 100,000 people. The annual report says that visitorship to each lake varies greatly, from one inspection at Eighth Lake to more than 7,000 on Great Sacandaga Lake.

Locally, stewards found high numbers of species leaving and entering waterways on Lake Flower and Fish Creek Ponds. Although not all plant fragments are invasive, moving native species between waterways can cause ecological problems as well.

At Lake Flower, stewards found 339 organisms during almost 1,600 inspections. One-third of those organisms were prevented from entering the lake, while two-thirds of the dirty boats were leaving the lake. Lake Flower has three invasive species: Eurasian milfoil, variable leaf milfoil and curly-leaf pondweed.

In addition to the stewardship program, the Adirondack chapter of The Nature Conservancy founded, along with the state departments of Transportation and Environmental Conservation and the state Adirondack Park Agency, the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program.

APIPP has grown to include more than 30 organizations and has 700 volunteers each year, and is funded by the New York State Environmental Protection Fund. The EPF is offering this year's grants as well.

To learn more about the stewardship program, go to For more information about APIPP and how to volunteer, visit, and to read about this year's grant opportunities, go to



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