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Schumer Announces Cayuga Lake Will Have Additional Resources To Control Hydrilla; $598K From Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Which Will Enable Additional Hydrilla Herbicide Treatments and $299K to Address Invasive Starry Stonewort 

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 Root Out Hydrilla In The Finger Lakes 

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced, after his push to address the Hydrilla outbreak in Cayuga Lake, that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will award $900,000 of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) to the Great Lakes Institute at Hobart and Williams Smith College to fight invasive threats, including $598,960 in funding to help control and eradicate the recently discovered Hydrilla infestation in Cayuga Lake. Schumer met with local officials in April on the shores of Cayuga Lake to announce his pursuit of this EPA grant funding that is being awarded today. Schumer said this funding is the next step in removing the Hydrilla 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.              

“Even as summer winds down, the threat of invasive species still looms large. That is why I am glad the EPA is stepping in right on time to help Cayuga Lake, and the surrounding communities, address this Hydrilla infestation. This federal investment will cover the cost to apply targeted herbicide treatments, helping Cayuga Lake become, and remain, Hydrilla-free and begin efforts to address Starry Stonewort, another aquatic invasive threat,” 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 I am relieved that the federal government heeded my repeated calls to address and remediate Hydrilla in Cayuga Lake. Now the residents and scientists can roll up their sleeves and get to work eradicating this 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.

During his visit to Cayuga Lake in April, 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.

Specifically this $598,960 in funding will enable the Finger Lakes Institute to help control the recently discovered Hydrilla infestation across the 30-acre area of Cayuga Lake.  Additionally the EPA is awarding the Finger Lakes Institute $299,474 to address  starry stonewort (Nitellopsis obtuse) another aquatic invasive plant species.  Starry Stonewort, an algae-like plant, grows quickly forming mats that inhibit boating and swimming and destroy native fish habitats.  The Finger Lakes Institute will establish a workgroup to develop plans to monitor, prevent, and control starry stonewort in the Great Lakes watershed.

Today’s announcement comes on the heels of Schumer’s April visit to Cayuga Lake where he called for more federal support to address the Hydrilla threat. Additionally, in June Schumer announced $400,000 in federal funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to apply herbicide to Cayuga Lake. Schumer said today’s announcement is part of a multi-year strategy to fully remediate the threat of Hydrilla.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was launched by the Obama Administration in 2010, and has funded projects in New York to improve water quality, combat invasive species, and restore wetlands and other habitats. Schumer has supported annual funding for the GLRI through the budget and appropriations.