Help Prevent Invasive Species

By Kristen Rohne, Lake George Association

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Going boating in the 518 area code? Here is what you should know about preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species in New York State.

Aquatic invasive species, such as Eurasian watermilfoil, Asian clams, and zebra mussels, can be spread between waterbodies on boating and fishing equipment that has not been cleaned, drained, and dried.

To ensure that boats are cleaned, drained, and dry, there are various regulations and laws in place. Regulations adopted in 2014 by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), prohibit boats from launching from or leaving DEC and OPRHP launch sites without first draining the boat and cleaning the boat, trailer and equipment of visible plant and animal material.

More recently, proposed statewide regulations require that “reasonable precautions” such as removing visible plant or animal matter, washing, draining or drying are taken to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species prior to placing watercraft or floating docks into public waters. A forty-five day public comment period on this proposed regulations ended January 30, 2016. This regulation will soon go into effect. It is important to note that this new regulation is for all watercraft which is defined as every motorized or non-motorized boat, vessel or vehicle capable of being used or operated as a means of transportation or recreation in or on water.

If boating in Warren County, NY there is an AIS Transport Law which prohibits launching a boat into a waterbody with any visible plants or animals attached to the boat, trailer, or other equipment; entering a public highway with any visible plants or animals attached to the boat, trailer, or other equipment; and introducing an aquatic invasive species to any waterbody by any other means.  Similar laws are in place in the Village of Lake Placid and the Towns of Lake Pleasant, Santa Clara, North Elba, Harriestown, Brighton, Franklin, Schroon, and Webb . If boating on Loon Lake in the Town of Chester, there is a local law requiring inspection and decontamination by town lake stewards.

If boating on Lake George, all trailered boats being launched into Lake George must undergo an inspection at one of the seven regional inspection stations around Lake George before they launch. Additional information on the Lake George Regional Inspection Stations is available at www.lgboatinspections.com

If boating on waters within the Adirondack Park, the Adirondack Park AIS Spread Prevention Program actively addresses aquatic invasive species and encourages regional stewardship through a combination of boater education and curtsey boat inspection & decontamination. These inspection and decontamination stations throughout the Adirondack Park will help to ensure that you are preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species. Locations and hours of operation of these inspection and decontamination stations are available at www.adkcleanboats.com

To ensure that your boating and fishing equipment is clean, drained, and dry and that you are in compliance with invasive species regulations, follow these three steps.

CLEAN:  After boating, before you leave the launch: Remove all visible plants, animals, fish, and mud from your boat, trailer, or other equipment and dispose of in a suitable trash container, AIS disposal station or on dry land. Don’t transport any potential hitchhiker even back to your home. Remove and leave them at the site you visited.

DRAIN:  After boating, before you leave the launch: Drain water from bilge, live wells, ballast tanks, and any other components containing water at a distance from the waterbody and in such a manner to avoid contact of the drainage with the public waterbody. For personal watercraft only, run the motor out of water for five seconds, unless advised differently by the manufacturer and at a distance from the waterbody and in such a manner to avoid contact of the drainage with the public waterbody.

DRY:  Before you arrive at the launch to go boating: Dry your boat, trailer, and all equipment completely. Drying times vary depending on the weather and the type of material. If possible, leave it out in the sun to dry. At least five days of drying time is generally recommended during the summer. If you want to use your boat sooner, have your boat decontaminated using high pressure (2500psi), hot water (140F) at a location that does not drain into a waterbody. If hot water is not available at the launch site or other reasonably accessible location prior to launching, thoroughly rinsing the boat hull and flush water- holding compartments with the warmest water available at a location that does not drain into a waterbody.

Boats, trailers, waders and other fishing equipment can spread invasive species from waterbody to waterbody unless properly cleaned after use. New regulations now prohibit boats from launching from or leaving DEC launch sites without first draining the boat and cleaning the boat, trailer and equipment of visible plant and animal material. Many New York counties, towns and villages also have laws in place that prohibit the transport of aquatic invasive species on boats, trailers and equipment. Although some invasive species such as water milfoil are readily visible to the human eye, many others are too small to be readily noticed.

nygov-logo-shareTo avoid spreading invasive species please follow the following guidelines or view our step by step guide to cleaning your boat and equipment:

  1. Inspect your equipment; and REMOVE any visible mud, plants, fish or animals before transporting equipment.
  2. Eliminate all water from equipment before transporting.
  3. Clean and Dry anything that comes into contact with water including boats, trailers, waders, bait buckets and other boating and fishing equipment. Boaters should be particularly cognizant of bait & live wells and bilge areas that are difficult to dry.
  4. Disinfect if you cannot dry equipment.
  5. Never release plants, fish or animals into a body of water unless they came out of that body of water.

Inspect, clean and dry, and disinfect your equipment to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species!