U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced Friday she will introduce legislation to give a federal agency more authority to stop invasive species.
Gillibrand, D-N.Y., plans to introduce the Invasive Fish and Wildlife Protection Act in the Senate. The same legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, and co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh.
The act would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to analyze whether any nonnative animal species might become invasive and draw up a list of them, and would prohibit any invasive animal species from being imported into the United States or carried across state lines.
Gillibrand’s and Owens’ legislation is designed to reform the 112-year-old Lacey Act, under which it can take four years to get a species listed as invasive and prohibit it from being brought into the United States or across state lines.
“Invasive species pose a real threat to New York’s natural resources and to small businesses that rely on fishing, boating and other activities to bring tourists into the region,” Owens said in a statement. “This is a jobs issue as much as it is an environmental issue.”
Gillibrand announced the legislation at the Rogers Park pier on Route 9N in Bolton Landing during a demonstration of new boat-washing and inspection stations that are designed to keep invasive species from entering Lake George when people launch their boats.
A $50,000 Environmental Protection Agency grant to the Lake George Park Commission is funding two new voluntary washing stations, bringing the total to three. Local municipalities and nonprofit organizations also are contributing to the effort.
Boaters are encouraged, but not required, to have their boats washed at the stations if they have visited waterways other than Lake George and are not completely dry.
Lake George is already home to zebra mussels, Asian clams, Eurasian watermilfoil and spiny water fleas, invasive species that the state and lakeside municipalities have spent millions of dollars trying to eradicate.
Officials want to prevent other destructive species, such as the feared Quagga mussel and bloody red shrimp, from entering the waterways in the first place.
If allowed unchecked, the aquatic animals could harm the lake’s water quality and affect recreation.
The Lake George Park Commission, a state agency, is considering requiring prelaunch boat inspections to stem the spread of invasive species, and officials hope to approve a plan this summer.
The second of two public hearings on the plan is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Best Western in Ticonderoga.