DEC asks for help against invaders
Control of non-native species requires citizenry, official
By Misty Edgecomb
Democrat and Chronicle
Published November 17, 2005
(November 17, 2005) — New York can't afford not to act
against invasive species such as zebra mussels and Eurasian
milfoil, but success will require collaboration, state
official Lynette Stark said Wednesday.
Stark, of the state Department of Environmental Conservation,
previewed a pending report on how the state will control
invasive species for a gathering of arborists, nursery
owners and landscapers in Rochester this week. The annual
Green Industries Conference concludes today at the Rochester
Riverside Convention Center.
If the state doesn't act now to prevent the spread of
problematic, non-native plants and animals, the costs
could be astronomical, she said.
Diseases such as sudden oak death, Dutch elm disease
and hemlock woolly adelgid can devastate landscapes. Aquatic
species such as water chestnut can clog lakes and ruin
swimming areas, lowering the value of waterfront property.
Non-native animals, such as the round goby, a small but
voracious fish found throughout the Great Lakes, can drive
out native species. West Nile encephalitis, a non-native
disease spread by native mosquitoes, puts human and animal
health at risk.
And each year, more new species are introduced.
New York has been the origin of several infestations,
with each invader accidentally shipped through New York
City's port, then spread across the state. Except for
development, species invasion is the greatest threat to
biodiversity in the state, Stark said.
"A lot of invasives show up at our door first,"
More than $20 million has already been spent in hope
of controlling a single species, the brown fir long horned
beetle, which arrived in New York City from Asia several
years ago. Nationwide, control of invasive species costs
$120billion annually, according to a Cornell University
But local volunteer programs — like lake associations'
efforts to remove Eurasian milfoil — have in some cases
been more effective. Both approaches will be necessary,
according to Stark.
"This is going to be a tough nut to crack,"
A state task force has been at work for two years and
will release a plan for controlling invasive species this
month. Next year, $1 million in grants to communities
and nonprofits will be available to start implementation,
"We're not going to set up an invasive species police
force," Stark said. "This really cries out for
Businesspeople said they think the state is on the right
track. Public education will be crucial, said David Hughes
of the Yahnundasis Golf Club in New Hartford, Oneida County.
"People don't realize. ... Now they're going to
understand what's going on," said Hughes, who has
struggled to control milfoil in the water traps on his
For Joan Macholl, an arborist from Elbridge, Onondaga
County, the challenge will be knowing which non-native
species are worth fighting. Macholl has run across very
invasive species that she believes need aggressive control
— like the fast-growing giant hogweed, which has sap that
acts as a "reverse sunscreen," causing people
who are exposed to suffer severe sunburns.
Other species, such as purple loosestrife, already may
have spread too far, she said. "Eradicating them
is next to impossible in some situations," Macholl
said. "Change is natural."