State asks boaters to wash off ‘hitchhiking’ invasive species

— The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation launched an education campaign at its 149 boat launching sites statewide urging boaters to help “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers” by ridding their boats of potentially harmful invasive species before and after each visit to State Park marinas and boat launches.

“Aquatic invasive species can spoil boating and fishing trips, reduce lakeshore property values and undermine the tourism industry,” State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said. “Once established, controlling non-native plant and animal life is extremely costly – and eradication is very difficult, sometimes impossible. We need the assistance and cooperation of boaters to prevent invasive species from degrading State Parks and waters.”

Trailered boats, car top boats and equipment moving between waterways are among the leading ways invasive species can “hitchhike” to new bodies of water. With Environmental Protection Fund support through New York’s Department of State and Department of Environmental Conservation’s Ocean and Great Lakes program, State Parks has developed the “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers” signs for 149 boat launch sites statewide – informing visitors about what they can do to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Each sign describes steps boaters should follow:

•Clean and remove all visible plants, animals, fish and mud from your boat, trailer and other equipment, and dispose of it in a suitable trash container or on dry land.

•Drain water from bilge, live wells, ballast tanks and any other locations with water before leaving the launch. Disinfect when possible.

•Dry your boat, trailer, and all equipment completely. At least 5 days of drying time is recommended. Drying times vary depending on weather and material.

“Access to New York’s waterways provides tremendous recreational opportunities for residents and for visitors from all over the world,” State Department of State Secretary Cesar A. Perales said. “I applaud the work of Commissioner Harvey and her staff in their work to enlist boaters to help keep New York’s lake ecosystems healthy and our coastal communities thriving.”

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