Available for Eradication of Aquatic Invasive Species
News from The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation
For more information: Maureen Wren, (518) 402-8000
Deadline for Applications is February 28, 2006
ALBANY, NY -- (12/01/2005; 1500)(EIS) -- New York State
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner
Denise M. Sheehan today announced the availability of
$1 million in grants for projects to help eradicate aquatic
invasive species. Applications for the Aquatic Invasive
Species Eradication Grant Program will be accepted until
February 28, 2006.
"Control and management of invasive species, both
in the water and on land, is one of the most critical
and challenging environmental problems facing New York
State today," Commissioner Sheehan said. "DEC
recognizes the need to help communities and protect our
natural resources by funding eradication projects that
combat the spread of aquatic invasive species."
Aquatic invasive species are plants and animals that
have been introduced, either accidentally or intentionally,
into the waters and wetlands of the State from other parts
of the United States or from other countries. Some aquatic
invasive plants, such as the water chestnut, were introduced
by individuals who observed them in foreign habitats,
and brought them back because they thought they would
be attractive additions to New York's aquatic plant community.
Invasive animals such as the zebra mussel and the round
goby "hitchhiked" to North America in the ballast
water of transoceanic shipping vessels, and spread through
interconnected waters such as the Great Lakes.
Regardless of how they were introduced, such non-native
species are considered "invasive" because when
released into New York waters, serious ecological or economic
problems have resulted. For example, invasive Eurasian
watermilfoil can grow in thick dense beds to the top of
the water. These thick beds block boating and swimming
access and make fishing difficult. Zebra mussels can plug
the water intake pipes used for drinking water and cooling
water by power plants and other industries. Keeping zebra
mussels out of water intakes requires expensive treatments
or system modifications.
A total of $1 million is being made available to municipalities
and not-for-profit organizations for projects that eliminate
infestations of aquatic invasive species throughout the
State. State funds can be used to pay for up to one third
of the total costs of a selected eradication project.
Individual grants will be awarded for a minimum of $10,000
and maximum of $100,000.
The power of invasive species to rapidly and dramatically
reshape the landscape of New York can readily be seen
simply by driving along New York's highways and observing
the large stands of purple loosestrife and common reeds
(also known by its Latin name, Phragmites) that have replaced
cattails, bulrushes, and other native wetland plant species.
The purple loosestrife's bright purple flower is attractive
in late summer, but this invasive wetland plant spreads
rapidly and crowds out native wetland plants.
Currently, the primary burden for reducing or eliminating
infestations of such aquatic invasive species has been
borne by impacted communities, such as lake associations.
The goal of the Aquatic Invasive Species Eradication Grant
Program is to make it easier for affected communities
to undertake projects to eradicate these invasive species.
Application materials for Aquatic Invasive Species Eradication
Grants have been mailed to each municipality in the State.
Copies are also available by calling DEC at (518) 402-8970,
and will soon be posted on the Department's Aquatic Invasive
Species Eradication Grant Program website at: http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/habitat/erad.html.
Copies of the application materials in PDF format can
be downloaded from that web page. All project applications
must be postmarked by February 28, 2006.
DEC also recently released the Final Report of the New
York State Invasive Species Task Force to Governor George
Pataki and the State Legislature. Over the past two years,
DEC and the State Department of Agriculture and Markets
jointly led a team of other State agencies and a variety
of stakeholders in exploring the issue of invasive species
in New York State. In July 2005, the Task Force issued
a draft report and solicited public comments, which were
later reviewed and incorporated into the Final Report.
The report explains the problems that can and do happen
when species invade; discusses the many things that government,
industry, conservation groups, homeowners, academia, and
others are doing to prevent or control invasive plants
and animals; and makes recommendations on how New York
can improve its defenses against invasive species. Copies
of the report can be obtained by calling DEC's Division
of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources at (518) 402-8924,
and also will soon be posted online at www.dec.state.ny.us/website/dfwmr/habitat/istf/index.html
on DEC's website.