Invasive species fight draws national honor
ADIRONDACKS The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and several state agencies, has received a national award for outstanding achievement in combating invasive species.
The 15-year-old program received the 2013 National Invasive Species Awareness Week Award for Outstanding Achievement in Invasive Species Leadership.
“This is well-deserved recognition of the excellent work APIPP has done and a testimony to what can be accomplished through private-public partnerships, dedicated funding through New York’s Environmental Protection Fund, and coordination at the state level,” said Joe Martens, state Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner.
The program is a partnership among The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter, the state departments of transportation and environmental conservation, and the Adirondack Park Agency.
The APIPP was started in 1998 to implement a landscape-level approach to threats posed by invasive species.
It has worked with hundreds of volunteers and partner organizations, and served as the model for other programs.
Examples of APIPP’s work cited by state officials:
Early detection programs with hundreds of volunteers surveying lands and waters and gathering baseline data on species.
Offering educational programs such as free training in forest pest detection, aquatic invasive species identification and invasive plant management techniques.
Working with private funding sources to deploy professional rapid response teams to eradicate new infestations.
Helping to support boat launch stewardship programs at Lake George that reach more than 30,000 people per year.
Some of the invasive species seen in the Adirondacks include the Japanese knotweed, the spiny water flea and Eurasian water milfoil. The emerald ash borer, Asian longhorn beetle and hydrilla are also found in upstate New York, and are considered a potential threat to the Adirondacks.
Last year, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed the Invasive Species Prevention Act, which created a statewide regulatory system to prohibit or limit the sale and transport of known invasive plants and animals.
The governor has also asked DEC to complete a study to determine how invasive species can be combated in Lake George.
The award recipients are selected by representatives from the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force, a national intergovernmental organization; the National Invasive Species Council; the Invasive Species Advisory Committee; and the Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds.
Invasive animals and plants drive out native species, upset the food chain, ruin crops, degrade forests and fisheries, negatively impact recreation and can harm humans. Researchers estimate invasive species cause environmental losses and damages worth nearly $120 billion a year nationwide.
The first National Invasive Species Achievement Awards were presented in 2012.