Schumer Announces Cayuga Lake Will Finally Have the Resources It Needs To Treat and Eventually Eradicate Hydrilla; $400K From the Army Corps Will Enable Herbicide Treatments

Senator Says Hydrilla Weeds Are Spreading and Plant Could Put A Stranglehold On Finger Lakes, Turning Away Fishing, Boating, Other Lake-Based Recreation Worth Millions To Upstate Economy

Schumer: These Funds Will Help Stop Hydrilla From Taking Further Root In The Finger Lakes 

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced today after his push to secure federal funds this summer to fight a newly discovered Hydrilla outbreak, that the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will use $400,000 from the Aquatic Plant Control Research Program (APCRP) to immediately apply a herbicide needed to remove a recently discovered Hydrilla infestation in Cayuga Lake. Schumer said this funding is the first step in eradicating the infestation and will help create a comprehensive, multi-year strategy to combat the invasive species that threatens to do serious damage to Cayuga Lake and the surrounding area.                      

“Now that we're in the summer months I’m glad the Army Corps is stepping in right on time to help Cayuga Lake and the surrounding communities address this Hydrilla infestation. This $400,000 federal investment will cover the cost to apply targeted herbicide treatments beginning this July when the Hydrilla starts to grow and will help Cayuga Lake eventually become and remain Hydrilla-free,” said Senator Schumer. “Cayuga County, Seneca County, Tompkins County, and the Finger Lakes region generates millions of dollars in economic activity, in large part due to the tourists, boaters, fisherman, farms, businesses, and residents here because of Cayuga Lake. A single aquatic plant could put all of that at risk, which is why I am relieved that the federal government heeded my repeated calls to address and remediate Hydrilla in Cayuga Lake. Now the Army Corps can roll up its sleeves and get to work eradicating an aquatic plant that could destroy the Finger Lakes region’s job creating and economic potential.”

Hydrilla, a fast-growing aquatic plant that can choke off waterways and make boating and fishing nearly impossible, has recently invaded a 27 acre area in Cayuga Lake. The plant can grow six to eight inches per day and could spread throughout the Finger Lakes if federal and regional officials do not act to prevent and eradicate the invasive weed’s presence.

In the Fall of 2016, a Cayuga Lake Floating Classroom found near Auburn, NY, this new infestation which was beyond the Hydrilla that had been identified in the inlet located at the southern end of the lake in 2012.The Finger Lakes Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management has also conducted surveys confirming the patchy Hydrilla, and research has suggested that this infestation is five years old. Until now, most of the focus had been directed to the Hydrilla in the inlet near the Ithaca area. The work of local stakeholders from the Ithaca area has helped contain and mitigate the spread of this invasive.

Schumer said Hydrilla poses a serious and costly threat to the vitality, natural beauty, and economic stability of the Finger Lakes Region and has called for vigorous action to combat the infestation. The presence of Hydrilla would reduce values of shorefront properties, harm water quality, and pose a major threat to tourism in the Finger Lakes. Given that tourism contributes $286 million to Finger Lakes Counties and supports more than 6,000 local jobs, the continued spread of Hydrilla will prove disastrous to local communities in the region without action.

This summer the Army Corps of Engineers will also use funding from the federal Aquatic Plant Control Research Program to re-apply herbicide to the Hydrilla outbreak in the Tonawanda Creek/Erie Canal.  Because of consistent Army Corps herbicide treatments over the past few years, the Army Corps now estimates it has eradicated 99 percent of the Hydrilla at Tonawanda Creek/Erie Canal. As members of the local Hydrilla Task Force, the Army Corps will provide Technical Assistance to aid in the re-application of Hydrilla herbicide treatment in the Cayuga Inlet near Ithaca.   

In addition, Schumer also noted that funding for the Army Corps’s Aquatic Plant Control Research Program was eliminated in the Trump Administration’s budget proposal. As this case of Hydrilla demonstrates, APCRP has been a key source of funding to combat invasive species in the past. Schumer vowed to use all the power he has to protect the program from the Administration’s budget butchers and frequently cited the Hydrilla problem in the State of Florida as evidence for the need to enact a long-term plan now, as Hydrilla is extremely difficult and expensive to remove. Florida failed to address the Hydrilla problem early and now spends approximately $30 million per year to mow Hydrilla plants throughout their waterways.

Schumer said combatting Hydrilla will require continued resources and federal assistance, but that the Army Corps’s plan is a first step to remediate the infestation and follows on the heels of Schumer’s visit to Cayuga Lake in April when he announced his push to secure additional federal funds to eradicate the new 27 acre infestation and create a comprehensive, multi-year strategy to combat the invasive species.  Specifically, Schumer wrote to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to approve nearly $1 million in federal funding needed by the Finger Lakes Institute and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to continue to apply herbicide to remove a large recently discovered Hydrilla infestation in Cayuga Lake near Auburn, NY. Schumer also wrote to the USFWS to push for $249,992 in federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) to help control Hydrilla outbreaks across the Great Lakes Watershed region as part of the Statewide Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Comprehensive Management Plan.


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