SCHUMER URGES US FISH & WILDLIFE TO AWARD $160K IN FEDERAL FUNDING TO COMBAT AQUATIC INVASIVE SPECIES IN THE FINGER LAKES AND LAKE ONTARIO INVASIVE SPECIES WREAK HAVOCK ON LAKES AND WATERWAYS IN FINGER LAKES
Schumer Calls on Feds to Award Critical Grant to Fund Prevention and Outreach Program to Mitigate the Spread of Invasive Species that Hinder Waterways, Boating and Tourism in the Finger Lakes Hyrdilla, Eurasian Milfoil, Asian Clam, Quagga Mussel & Other Harmful Invasive Species Have Been Found in Some of the Finger Lakes & Lake Ontario, Putting Countless Other Rivers and Lakes at Risk Schumer: We Must Weed Out Invasive Species Before they Get a Stranglehold on Water B
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to award the Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith College in Geneva a $160,753 grant to combat invasive species on Lake Ontario and the many water bodies in the Finger Lakes. Specifically, the grant will fund the training of watercraft stewards to inspect areas for invasive species, including Hydrilla, Asian clam, and water chestnuts, and to educate the public on best practices of reducing the spread of such species. The New York State Deparment of Environment Conservation (DEC) has applied for the funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GRLI) on behalf of the Finger Lakes Institute and William Smith College. The Finger Lakes Region is one of the largest tourism regions in New York State as well as a source of drinking water for over 1.5 million people.
"With the summer months fast approaching and the spread of invasive species more of a threat, now is the time to invest in the monitoring and prevention programs that help safeguard waterways in the Finger Lakes," said Schumer. "Aquatic invasive species threaten property values, recreation, and tourism, and we need to keep a watchful eye on our Finger Lakes water bodies to prevent a hostile takeover of animals like the Asian clam or the Quagga mussel. This grant would help monitor the presence of these aquatic invasives, prevent them from spreading, and help weed them out if they are found."
Every year, aquatic invasive species pose a threat to Lake Ontario and the many smaller lakes in the Finger Lakes region. Schumer argued that continued investment is needed to monitor their presence and mitigate the spread of invasive species. The Environmental Protection Agency temporarily withdrew its funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, forcing local advocates to begin their own stewardship programs. The local communities continued to embrace these programs without federal funding, demonstrating the programs' utility. Renewed funding will multiply the programs' progress in combating aquatic invasive species.
Schumer explained that, if funding were awarded, ten stewards would be hired for the Finger Lakes focusing on the NYS Park, NYS DEC, and municipal boat launch locations. Two watercraft stewards would be hired for Monroe County for NYS DEC and municipal launches. These stewards will visually inspect watercraft, as well as conduct surveys and provide educationbased best practices to limit the presence of aquatic invasive species.
Dear Director Ashe:
I am pleased to write in support of the grant application submitted by The Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith College in Geneva NY for $160,753 under the Fish and Wildlife Service's Great Lake Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant program for the Southern Lake Ontario and Finger Lakes Region Aquatic Species Prevention and Outreach Program. This grant, also awarded to The Finger Lakes Institute in 2012, was integral to keeping invasive aquatic species such as hydrilla, water chestnut and Asian clams from spreading to other bodies of water.
The Finger Lakes Region is one of the largest tourism regions in New York State as well as a source of drinking water for over 1.5 million people. As you know, the harmful ecological and economic impacts from invasive species have been documented across the state, and are a growing problem in The Finger Lakes Region. Many species, such as hydrilla (found in the Cayuga Outlet in 2011), bloody red shrimp, Asian clam and quagga mussels are not currently found in all of the Finger Lakes but continue to spread due to human interaction particularly from watercraft.
Specifically, The Finger Lakes Institute seeks to curb this spread through their already successful Watercraft Steward Program, a partnership in Data Management Program, and to continue their Citizen Science and Reporting program. Ten stewards would be hired for the Finger Lakes focusing on the NYS Park, NYS DEC, and municipal boat launch locations. Two watercraft stewards would be hired for Monroe County for NYS DEC and municipal launches. These stewards will visually inspect watercraft as well as conduct surveys and provide education based best practices. From the awarded 2012 grant, data analysis from the 2013 boating season indicates that stewards removed plants and animals from approximately 27% of all watercraft encountered (launching and receiving) at the launches. This represents over 56,000 lake users on over 23,000 watercraft from June to September 2013. Data collected by the stewards will also be shared to IMapInvasivies, New York Sea Grant Invasive Species Information Clearinghouse, and the United States Geological Survey's Nonindigenous Aquatic Species database to help track and curb the spread of all invasive species.
Charles E. Schumer
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