Bolton Landing, NY – Standing at Lake George, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, today announced the Invasive Fish and Wildlife Protection Act, comprehensive legislation to stop the spread of invasive species and protect New York’s waterways. Senator Gillibrand and Rep. Owen’s legislation comes on the heels of a new Federal, State and local agreement to fund two boat inspection and washing stations to add to its current station. The two new washing stations are being funded through an EPA grant of $50,000.00 to the Lake George Park Commission. Lake George will now have a total of three voluntary decontamination sites at its busiest boat launches. This funding will leverage additional resources from local municipalities and nonprofit organizations.
Senator Gillibrand’s legislation would protect New York from the threat of invasive species by preventing the importation of potentially harmful species across state lines or into the United States by reforming the broken Lacey Act, which has been ineffective in stopping injurious wildlife, such as Asian clam and Zebra and Quagga mussels, from harming New York’s waterways. Congressman Owens is a co-sponsor of companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“From the Great Lakes to the Finger Lakes, and from the lakes and streams of the Adirondacks to the Hudson River, and every waterway in between, New York State is blessed with beautiful bodies of water,” Senator Gillibrand said. “These vast natural resources help drive our economy, offer miles of recreation, attract tourists, and provide clean drinking water for millions of families. If we’re going to protect these resources today and for future generations, we need to prevent the spread of invasive species.”
“Invasive species pose a real threat to New York’s natural resources and to small businesses that rely on fishing, boating and other activities to bring tourists into the region,” said Congressman Bill Owens. “This is a jobs issue as much as it is an environmental issue, and something I’ve dealt with on the St. Lawrence River, on Lake Champlain and on lakes in the southern part of the 21st district. We can do more to prevent the spread of invasive species and protect the scenic beauty for which New York is so well known. I applaud the work that’s already been done to protect the region and look forward to working with all stakeholders to develop common sense solutions to these complex issues.”
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said, “I would like to thank Senator Gillibrand for introducing the Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act to enhance the ability of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to address the threat caused by invasive species. State, federal and local governments are partnering with community groups to address invasive species on Lake George. Such waterway-specific collaboration is vital as we confront similar invasive species issues across the State, from the Great Lakes, to Lake Champlain to the Hudson River.”
“The EPA is pleased to help the Lake George Park Commission reduce the threat of invasive species with these boat washing stations,” said Joan Leary Matthews, Director of EPA Region 2’s Clean Water Division. “The EPA urges all boaters on Lake George to use these stations and become informed about what they can do to keep invasive species out of waterbodies.”
“We applaud Senator Gillibrand’s efforts to improve the regulatory process to prevent the introduction of invasives across our great land,” said Lake George Mayor and S.A.V.E Lake George Partnership ChairmanRobert Blais. It is timely, necessary and extremely meaningful to our S.A.V.E committee as we go forward towards protecting “the Queen of America’s lakes” from aquatic invasive as well.”
“This legislation is progressive and exciting. Federal recognition and coordination on the invasive species front is welcome news, and we appreciate Senator Gillibrand’s leadership in this area,” said C. Walter Lender, Executive Director of the Lake George Association. “Our local communities and organizations have been stretched to the extent of our resources, so we are very encouraged to have our Federal partners support. We truly need a national invasive species program if we are to have any hope of protecting our waterways and special resources like Lake George.”
“We will only prevail in stopping the ruinous spread of invasive species through bold leadership and unprecedented partnership. Lake George is a national treasure and the national leadership of Senator Gillibrand promises to make a lasting difference in saving the lake from invasives. We look forward to working with the Senator as a vital partner in this critical pursuit,” said Eric Siy, Executive Director of The FUND for Lake George. “The FUND is also a founding member of the S.A.V.E. (Stop Aquatic inVasives from Entering) Lake George Partnership that includes local officials, conservation groups, and researchers.”
A broad range of invasive species can quickly find their way into New York’s waterways, including Lake George. Since 2010, Lake George has been fighting against the spread of Asian clam, which are small enough to clog boat engines and water intake pipes. Zebra mussels arrived through discharged ballast water of shipping vessels on the St. Lawrence Seaway. These invasive species are costly to control and eradicate once they gain a foothold in our water bodies. They threaten the quality of water for local communities, damage infrastructure, and cost the region tourism revenue by hurting swimming, boating, fishing and other recreational activities.
Preventing The Next Generation Of Invasive Species
Currently, invasive species are regulated by the Lacey Act, a 112-year-old law that gives the U.S. Fish and Wild Life Services (FWS) limited power to regulate non-native species of animals and prohibits their importation and interstate sales. Currently, 236 species of animal are listed as injurious under the Lacey Act, including Zebra Mussels and several species of carp. Once a species is listed as injurious, it cannot be imported into the United States or its territories or possessions, or through interstate commerce. However, the current process can take four years to complete, giving invasive species more time to infiltrate New York’s waterways, potentially costing millions of dollars in damages.
Senator Gillibrand is introducing the Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act that would strengthen the ability of the Fish and Wildlife Service to proscriptively address the threat of potentially invasive species by requiring an analysis to determine whether any non-native animal species have the potential to become invasive and harmful to the United States before they can imported or enter into interstate commerce. Specifically, the bill would establish an injurious species listing process based on a clear risk assessment and risk determination process. It will prohibit import and interstate commerce of live non-native animal species if not done in compliance with the Act. This legislation has also been introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter.