Presently, the DEC is nearly impotent in terms of stopping the spread of invasive species. They simply do not have the tools, or the teeth, to combat this growing threat.
Instead of protecting our lakes and rivers by law, as in "it is illegal to..," the DEC's current approach is to "suggest that to help prevent the spread DEC recommends the following steps..."
New York currently does have a law to prevent a person from knowingly transporting Eurasian milfoil or water chestnuts.
The law is under Sec. 11-0507. Liberation of fish, shellfish and wildlife. It states, "No person shall intentionally liberate zebra mussels into any waters of the state. No person shall buy, sell, or offer to buy or sell, or intentionally possess or transport zebra mussels except under a license or permit issued pursuant to section 11-0515. Zebra mussels, except those lawfully held pursuant to a license or permit, may be destroyed by any person at any time.
Sec. 11-0509. Water chestnut. No person shall plant, transport, transplant or traffic in plants of the water chestnut or the seeds or nuts thereof nor in any manner cause the spread or growth of such plants."
However, there is no such law to prohibit Asian clams, spiny water fleas, or any of the other known threats. This oversight must be addressed.
A recent incident illustrates the point. Jeff Sann, a Water Steward with the Lake Placid Shoreowners Association, was working at the state boat launch on Lake Placid. While inspecting a boat on the trailer, Sann noticed clumps of zebra mussels, on the hull, the motor and the transom. The owners explained the boat had come from Saratoga Lake.
With the owner's permission, Sann removed all the mussels he could, by hand and then suggested they power wash the boat at a local car wash. According to news reports, "they politely refused." Unfortunately, lake stewards have no legal authority.