Imagine if your town needed to amend New York's state constitution every time they wanted to straighten a rural road or install a broadband internet line. That's exactly the situation for dozens of towns in the Adirondacks and the Catskills that are surrounded by state forest preserve.
But a deal hashed out this week by the legislature is expected to give communities more flexibility, allowing them to use small chunks of Park land without years of delay and red tape.
Need a new power line? Amend the state constitution
Here’s an example of how this works right now. Back in 2009, when the little Adirondack town of Tupper Lake needed a new electric line to end years of power outages and blackouts, the project crossed state forest preserve land. That needed approval from voters statewide – from Long Island to Buffalo.
They literally had to change New York’s state constitution for that one utility project. Richard Kessel, who headed the New York Power Authority, talked at the time about the heavy lift.
"This is a statewide constitutional amendment and we want to see it passed. The worst thing you can have is uninformed voters who, if they see something and there's a lot of language, they just click no. We have to get them to click yes," Kessel said.
This is reality for towns throughout the Adirondacks and Catskills that need something done quickly that involves even tiny chunks of forest preserve park land, which is protected by the state constitution.
A 250-acre pool of land that can be used for must-do projects
But under the plan passed by lawmakers, a 250-acre land bank will be created that local leaders can dip into without all the hassle.
State Senator Betty Little, who represents much of the Adirondack Park says, it will allow communities to take on these small projects without years of politics and a statewide campaign.
"I mean, if you had to do a water well again as we did in Raquette Lake you would be able to do it without a constitutional amendment. And I think it will be beneficial to the Adirondacks and Catskills. Hopefully it will pass muster with the voters in November."
This will need one more statewide vote by New Yorkers; it’ll be on the ballot in November. But it has bipartisan backing, with local leaders on board and also the state’s big environmental groups.
They like the measure because the kinds of projects eligible for the land bank have been narrowly defined in enabling legislation. David Gibson is with the group Adirondack Wild. "It is iron tight; it's one of the best constitutional amendments I can imagine in that way."
This measure does still require towns to go to the state legislature for approval of some projects. Assemblyman Dan Stec says that’s a pain, but it’s still a lot easier than a full-blown constitutional amendment.
"There are some local government officials who would have liked to have less need to go back to the legislature and had more local control over every project. But that was a negotiation that just wasn't going to happen, at least this go around."
All sides agree that approving this deal required a lot of cooperation and compromise from factions in the Adirondacks and the Catskills and within the state legislature that used to fight bitterly over the future of parklands.
"I think we landed in a spot that's valuable to local communities for improving health and safety issues, without jeopardizing or threatening the environmental concerns of the people of the state. So I think we landed in a good spot," Stec said.
This land bank was modeled in part on a similar pool of land that state officials now have access to for road and highway projects in the Parks. Also, the 250 acres that will be used for community projects will be offset by the purchase of new park land.
Source: North Country Public Radio - www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/story/34218/20170630/land-bank-plan-for-adirondacks-and-catskills-goes-to-voters
By: Margaret Murphy, ALA Regional Director (B) Essex County
A SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry undergraduate received the Hudson River Foundation’s Polgar Fellowship this summer to conduct water sampling in Wolf Lake on SUNY-ESF’s Huntington Wildlife Forest (HWF) under my guidance.
Sampling will be conducted to determine if water quality changes observed over the past few summers in Wolf Lake might be due to a relatively unknown but widespread organism, the freshwater jellyfish Craspedacusta sowerbii.
During a fall 2016 fisheries practicum field trip, Wolf Lake’s zooplankton community was qualitatively assessed because the lake had turned green in 2015 and 2016 with no known cause and we were curious why we weren’t catching many fish.
Much to everyone’s surprise, numerous freshwater jellyfish were observed in the collection sampled from about 10 meters below the surface to the surface. They were blooming like crazy in the lake. We quickly figured out what they were, imported from China in the late 1880s, and that they are now fairly widespread throughout New York and the United States.
Wolf Lake has a reputation as a “heritage lake,” (indicating it is among the most pristine water bodies in the Adirondack Park and all of New York State) with an undisturbed watershed and no non-native fishes. Needless to say, this finding has caused Wolf Lake to lose its reputation as a pristine lake. We also wonder if this critter is the reason why the lake has been very green for the last two years and why the fish numbers are way down there too. We hope the research this summer will help us start answering these questions.
Freshwater jellyfish have two primary stages, the polyp stage when they reside on the bottom reproducing asexually, giving rise to more polyps or to the sexually reproducing hydromedusa stage, when conditions are favorable (usually water temperatures at least 25 o C). The hydromedusa is produced only sporadically and actively feed on zooplankton within the water column.
Information in the scientific literature indicates the impact of freshwater jellyfish on lake trophic structure may or may not be harmful, with more recent studies noting an impact with higher chlorophyll and lower numbers of crustacean zooplankton in waters containing freshwater jellyfish hydromedusa. With the noticeable change to green in Wolf Lake over the past two years, we have inferred that there may be an effect on the zooplankton, allowing the phytoplankton to increase in abundance.
With the climate warming, the Adirondacks risk the potential loss of coldwater fish species. Huntington Wildlife Forest has long been an important research facility for assessing regional and global changes, and more rigorous study of the lakes will help us better understand these potential changes throughout the Adirondacks and develop target areas most in need of management and protection.
This summer, we will assess water quality parameters and both phytoplankton and zooplankton community composition in Rich Lake, Wolf Lake, and Arbutus Lake to begin to understand the potential correlation between water quality and plankton dynamics.
Zooplankton sampling will also help determine if freshwater jellyfish hydromedusae are still present in Wolf Lake and if they occur in the other two lakes. Changes in the plankton community have implications for the fish community, and may be a major factor in the reduced catch rate of fish from these lakes in 2016.
Fish sampling will be conducted in both early June and early July to continue to gain understanding of community dynamics and why changes may be occurring. Our results will be used to make recommendations on future monitoring programs to continue to assess changes in these lakes due to climate change and potential impacts from non-native or invasive species and how they may affect the entire watershed and will have implications for waterbodies throughout the Adirondacks.
Original article can be accessed from: Adirondack Almanac
For Immediate Release: 05/25/17
Contact: Benning DeLaMater | (518) 402-8000
Press Office | PressOffice@dec.ny.gov
DEC AND PAUL SMITHS COLLEGE PARTNER TO PROTECT ADIRONDACKS AGAINST AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES
Aquatic Invasive Species Protection Includes Boat Stewards and Decontamination Stations to protect local waterbodies
New York State is expanding its partnership with Paul Smith College’s Adirondack Watershed Institute Stewardship Program to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) throughout the Adirondack’s waterways through the strategic placement of boat stewards and decontamination stations, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today.
With more than 2,300 lakes and ponds, 1,500 miles of rivers, and 30,000 miles of brooks and streams, the Adirondack region is particularly vulnerable to the introduction of AIS. Once established, AIS such as zebra mussels and Eurasian water milfoil can spread rapidly through connecting waterways or by “hitchhiking” on the propellers, trailers, rudders, and motors of recreational boaters’ and anglers’ vessels.
“This valuable partnership with Paul Smiths College is an important step in Governor Cuomo’s ongoing efforts to preserve the Adirondacks’ vast waterways from aquatic invasive species and AIS’ potential harm to the environment, human health, and the economy of the region,” Commissioner Basil Seggos said.
The partnership will place 53 boat stewards and decontamination operators at 28 sites throughout the Adirondacks. The stewards, hired and trained by Paul Smiths College, will be on the lookout for AIS and will educate arriving boaters on the signs of possible invasive threats on watercraft and trailers. Using high pressure, hot water decontamination units, stewards will also clean boats that have not been cleaned and drained properly, especially those last used in waters with high risk for AIS.
The 2017 program will cost $1.4 million and is funded through the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF).
Sites will have steward coverage throughout the peak recreational boating season from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Stewards will be present Thursday through Monday, including holidays (Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day) for eight peak usage hours per day.
The program will complement existing AIS-prevention initiatives already underway, including the Adirondack Park Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention Pilot Program and the New York Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention Grant Program, which funds 11 boat steward and decontamination projects in the Adirondacks.
This partnership shows Governor Cuomo’s commitment to implementing the recommendations of the recently updated New York Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan (AISMP). Expanding boat steward programs and ensuring consistency of steward program delivery statewide is among the AISMP’s top 10 priority actions. Strategically placed boat stewards help prevent the spread of AIS by delivering AIS spread prevention education and outreach, conducting courtesy boat and trailer inspections, and showing boaters how to inspect and remove plants and organisms from their boats, trailers, and other equipment.
Governor Cuomo increased funding for invasive species control to $12 million from the EPF in the 2017-18 State Budget, including a $2 million grant program for communities and groups across New York. This funding will provide critical support for prevention and eradication activities through programs like the Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) that protect against threats to New York’s biodiversity, economy, and human health.
Invasive species are detrimental because of their ability to reproduce quickly, outcompete native species, and adapt to new environments. Because invasive species did not evolve with the other species in their new location, they often do not have natural predators and diseases that would normally control their population within their native habitat. Economists estimate that invasive species cost the United States more than $120 billion in damages every year.
Senator Betty Little said, "While we continue to make good progress mitigating the spread of invasive species, thanks to the efforts of DEC, Paul Smiths College, our lake associations and many others, this is a battle in which vigilance and persistence is absolutely essential. I was pleased to support funding in this year's budget because I know it is essential and will be put to very good use."
Assemblyman Billy Jones said, “Once an aquatic invasive species takes over, it can have a devastating impact on our lakes, ponds, rivers and other bodies of water and waterways. New York’s State’s partnership with Paul Smith’s will undoubtedly work to protect our Adirondack home owners and those seeking to visit the beauty of the North Country region. Paul Smith’s has an esteemed reputation and a profound understanding of their surroundings; I am delighted to see this partnership thrive which seeks to preserve the splendor and integrity of our region.”
"We are honored to be a critical part of New York's response to the challenge presented to our communities by the overland transport of aquatic invasives on recreational watercraft,” said Dr. Eric Holmlund, director of the Adirondack Watershed Institute Stewardship Program. "The Adirondack program represents the convergence of vision, community involvement, and strategically placed resources to save the highest quality waters in the state. We hope our friendly and diligent lake stewards help people to keep their watercraft clean, drained and dry whether an inspector is present or not. This program is another example of New York state's investment in a vulnerable community resource, benefitting both local communities and all New Yorkers who cherish the Adirondacks.”
DEC advises boaters and anglers to check boats, trailers and other fishing and boating equipment for any plants or animals that may be clinging to it. Be sure to check bunks, rollers, trim tabs, and other likely attachment points on boats and trailers. Following a thorough inspection, DEC encourages boaters to follow the CLEAN, DRAIN, and DRY standard:
1. CLEAN boats, trailers, and equipment of any debris and dispose of it in an upland area or receptacle provided for this purpose.
2. DRAIN the boat completely, including bilge areas, live wells, and bait wells. Water ski and wake board boat operators should be sure to drain all ballast tanks. Many aquatic invasive species can survive in as little as a drop of water, so it is imperative that all water is removed.
3. DRY all equipment for at least five days before using it in another water body. Longer drying times may be required for difficult to dry equipment or during damp or cool periods. Recommended drying times for various seasons (offsite link) can be found at 100th Meridian Initiative website. Drying is the simplest and most effective way to ensure equipment does not transport plants or animals.
For more information on the CLEAN, DRAIN, and DRY approach please view the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBDgs8mBGy4&t=192s.
APIPP’s Aquatic Invasive Species Project (AIS) Coordinator, Erin Vennie-Vollrath, collaborated with Dr. Richard Shaker of Ryerson University and others to publish “Predicting aquatic invasion in Adirondack lakes: a spatial analysis of lake and landscape characteristics” in the journal, Ecosphere. The study examines the distribution of AIS across 126 Adirondack lakes and evaluates relationships with lake and landscape characteristics to identify invasion “hot & cold spots” and the strongest predictors of lake invasion. In summary, the study identified 4 invasion hot spots and one cold spot (see map below). Deep lakes, especially those high in elevation, had the lowest likelihood of invasion while those with high percentages of urban land cover (proxy for disturbance and recreational draw) that were close to the I-87 Northway (primary conduit of overland AIS transport into the ADK’s) had the highest likelihood. Lakes with motorized access and a high abundance of game fish (proxy for lake productivity and recreational draw) also had an increased probability of being invaded. Based on this analysis, the study prioritizes 20 uninvaded lakes having the highest vulnerability to invasion for APIPP’s future AIS prevention and monitoring efforts.
This analysis used data collected over the past 15 years by APIPP’s volunteer lake monitors and partners.
Congratulations to Erin, Dr. Shaker and the collaborating authors on a great study!
Adirondack Invasive Species
GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES $2 MILLION IN FUNDING AVAILABLE FOR INVASIVE SPECIES RAPID RESPONSE AND CONTROL
For Immediate Release: 1/19/2017
GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO
State of New York | Executive Chamber
Andrew M. Cuomo | Governor
GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES $2 MILLION IN FUNDING AVAILABLE FOR INVASIVE SPECIES RAPID RESPONSE AND CONTROL
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $2 million in funding available through the Invasive Species Rapid Response and Control Grant Program for municipalities, not-for-profits, and educational institutions across the state. The program will support projects that target both aquatic and terrestrial invasive species throughout New York.
“This funding is critical to bolstering New York’s ability to control and remove invasive species that pose a threat to the health and wellbeing of our communities,” Governor Cuomo said. “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.”
The New York State Environmental Protection Fund is providing the $2 million in funding for eligible projects. Grants range from a minimum of $11,000 to $100,000, with a required 50 percent match. The deadline for grant applications is March 24, 2017. For a full list of eligible and ineligible projects, please view the Request for Application in the Grants Gateway.
New York is particularly vulnerable to invasive species due to its rich biodiversity and the state’s role as a center for international trade and travel. Once established, invasive species, such as emerald ash borer and zebra mussels, can spread rapidly through a region causing harm to the environment, human health, and the economy. Rapid response and control is a critical line of defense and helps to permanently remove invasive populations. Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, the 2016-17 state budget included an additional $5.5 million in the EPF targeted specifically for invasive species control.
The highest scoring projects will emphasize early detection and rapid response, and provide measures to ensure long-term success. Grants will be awarded to applicants who clearly demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and track record to successfully complete the project. Priority will be given to projects that provide opportunities for public participation and are located on or in close proximity to public lands or waterbodies. Project sites must be located wholly within New York State.
DEC anticipates announcing grant awards in May 2017. Applicants can apply for the grant through Grants Gateway by visiting the following link.
State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “In addition to New York State’s already comprehensive prevention efforts, these grants will provide a strong line of defense against both aquatic and terrestrial invasive species.”
Senator Tom O'Mara, Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee said, "The uncontrolled spread of aquatic invasive species threatens to devastate regional tourism economies and cost local communities hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs. We’ve appreciated the hard work of local leaders and concerned citizens throughout the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, and statewide, to protect our waterways and secure their quality and economic potential for generations to come. We’re hopeful that this stepped-up state assistance and investment, and other ongoing efforts, will continue to make a difference.”
Assemblyman Steve Englebright said, “Once invasive species become established, it can be extraordinarily difficult and costly to control or eradicate them. That’s why early detection and rapid response are essential to preventing the extensive ecological and economic damage that invasive species can bring. The grants from this new program will go far to help municipalities, not-for-profits, and higher educational institutions implement projects that will protect our land and waters from the spread of invasive species.”
Governor Cuomo Announces Adoption of Regulations to Protect New York's Waterways and Natural Habits From Invasive Species
For Immediate Release: 5/26/2016 GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO
State of New York | Executive Chamber
Andrew M. Cuomo | Governor
GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES ADOPTION OF REGULATIONS TO PROTECT NEW YORK'S WATERWAYS AND NATURAL HABITATS FROM INVASIVE SPECIES
Statewide Regulations Require Boaters to Take ‘Reasonable Precaution’ Against Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species through Recreational Boating
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the adoption of new regulations that will help protect New York State’s waters from the spread of aquatic invasive species and preserve local ecosystems. Signed into law by Governor Cuomo in September 2014, the regulations prohibit the launch of watercraft prior to taking ‘reasonable precautions,’ including the removal of visible plant or animal matter, proper material disposal in a receptacle or upland location, and treatment by operators launching watercraft or floating docks into public waters.
“We all share a responsibility to protect our environment, and these proactive measures are an important step forward as we work to keep our waters pristine and safeguard local ecosystems this boating season,” Governor Cuomo said. “Preventing the spread of invasive species in New York’s waterways will help ensure that our natural treasures remain major economic assets for years to come.”
With over 7,600 freshwater lakes, ponds and reservoirs and 70,000 miles of rivers, brooks and streams, New York State is particularly vulnerable to the introduction of invasive species. Once established, aquatic invasive species, such as spiny waterflea and Eurasian water milfoil, can rapidly spread through connecting waterbodies or by “hitchhiking” on the vessels of recreational boaters and anglers. These regulations are an important step in Governor Cuomo’s initiative to preserve New York’s vast waterways from the danger aquatic invasive species can cause to the environment, human health and the economy of a region.
Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Aquatic Invasive species can cause serious harm to our native species, aquatic ecosystems and water-based tourism. These new regulations require actions to prevent the spread of invasive species to be taken by anyone launching or attempting to launch a boat or floating dock into a public waterbody. Floating docks, boats, trailers and associated equipment are among the primary means that aquatic invasive species can be moved between waterbodies.”
Senator Tom O'Mara, Chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said, “Individual boaters are the front line of defense against the spread of invasive species, and the implementation of this new initiative offers a straightforward approach asking all boaters to do our part to help protect waterways, regional tourism economies and local jobs. Taking every possible step to stop the spread of destructive invasive species before they take hold is the most cost-effective and common-sense approach to combat this severe threat to the environment and economy of the Finger Lakes and other waterways statewide.”
Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton said, “I am very pleased to see that regulations to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in New York have been adopted. We know that the impact of species such as hydrilla and zebra mussels, which have both been a problem in my district, is devastating to our recreational and water-dependent industries if they overwhelm native ecosystems in water bodies across the state. Preventive action by boaters, as my aquatic invasive species legislation bill called for, and these regulations confirm, is the only long-term solution to keep our water free and clear of unwanted invasive species.”
Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation said, “Invasive species threaten New York's environment by diminishing biological diversity and changing entire ecosystems. These invaders are detrimental to the economy, and environment, as well as to New York’s recreational activities. These new regulations will potentially help to prevent and control aquatic invasive species.”
A 45-day public comment period was held from December 16, 2015 to February 1, 2016 on the proposed regulations. The new, final regulations and supporting information may be viewed by visiting the following link.
To learn more about aquatic invasive species and the threat they pose to New York State, please visit the following link.
Additional news available at www.governor.ny.gov
New York State | Executive Chamber |firstname.lastname@example.org | 518.474.8418
EPF Awards Distributed to 24 Municipalities to Install Decontamination Stations and Educate Boaters on the Dangers of Invasive Species
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that over $2 million in grants from the Environmental Protection Fund will be awarded to municipalities, not-for-profits and higher educational programs for projects that will help protect New York State’s waters from the spread of aquatic invasive species. The projects, which range geographically from the Adirondacks to the Finger Lakes and beyond, will focus on educating boaters on the dangers of aquatic invasive species through the placement of boat stewards, the installation of decontamination stations, and the uniform training of boat stewards across the state.
“New York State is home to unparalleled natural beauty and we must do everything we can to protect it from invasive aquatic predators,” Governor Cuomo said. “This money will help safeguard lakes and rivers in every corner of this state, protect local ecosystems, and ensure that visitors can experience New York’s natural beauty and wonders for years to come.”
With over 7,600 freshwater lakes, ponds and reservoirs and 70,000 miles of rivers, brooks and streams, New York State is particularly vulnerable to the introduction of invasive species. Once established, aquatic invasive species, such as spiny waterflea and Eurasian water milfoil, can rapidly spread through connecting waterbodies or by “hitchhiking” on the vessels of recreational boaters and anglers. These grants are an important step in Governor Cuomo’s initiative to preserve New York’s vast waterways from the danger aquatic invasive species can cause to the environment, human health and the economy of a region.
“Aquatic invasive species are a significant threat to the environment and economy of New York State, and these EPF grants will go far in reducing their spread,” said DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Fostering partnerships and collaboration with local governments and other partners are essential combat this urgent threat, and I look forward watching these successful projects take off.”
The twenty-four projects awarded, which range from $36,000 to $100,000, represent the first grants of the New York Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention Grant Program. These grants demonstrate DEC’s commitment to implementing the recommendations of the recently updated New York Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan (AISMP). Included among the top ten priority actions in the AISMP is expanding boat steward programs and ensuring consistency of steward program delivery throughout the state. Boat stewards help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species by delivering spread prevention education and outreach, conducting courtesy boat and trailer inspections and showing boaters how to inspect and remove plants and organisms from their boats, trailers and other equipment.
To view the list of awardees please visit the following link.
New York State Assembly Environmental Conservation Chair Steve Englebright said, “The best way to deal with aquatic invasive species and the ecological damage they cause is to prevent their further spread into New York State’s wealth of lakes, ponds and streams. The grants from this new program will go far to help municipalities, not-for-profits and higher educational institutions implement projects that will protect our State’s waters from the spread of aquatic invasive species. I commend Governor Cuomo and the NYS DEC for their efforts to implement the action-based recommendations of the recently updated New York Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan.”
Proposed projects were scored on a series of criteria that assessed the objectives, methods, impact, location, long term success and cost effectiveness of a proposal. The program will complement existing aquatic invasive species spread prevention initiatives already underway in New York State including the Adirondack Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention Pilot Program (launched in 2015), which was responsible for the installation of 12 new boat decontamination stations and the placement of boat stewards at 14 new locations within the Adirondack Park.
To learn more about aquatic invasive species and the threat they pose to New York State please visit the following link.
Contact the Governor's Press Office
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New Aquatic Invasive Species Permits Required:
Aquatic Invasive Species Management Using Benthic Barriers and Hand Harvesting Techniques:
Aquatic Invasive Species Rapid Response Management or Containment Using Benthic Barriers and Hand Harvesting Techniques:
If you have questions regarding the permit required for you waterbody, contact:
Adirondack Park Agency
Please click here for a list of Water Resource Consultants.