NYC DEP Supports Statewide Effort to Educate New Yorkers About Invasive Species
July 9–15 marks New York Invasive Species Awareness Week
A photo is available on DEP’s Flickr Page
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently reiterated its support of a statewide effort to educate New Yorkers about invasive species, their effects on our ecosystems, and what citizens can do to prevent their spread across the watershed and other parts of the state. To mark New York Invasive Species Awareness Week, July 9–15, DEP set up an education tent at the Pakatakan Farmers Market in Delaware County in order to share information with watershed residents. As the effects of invasive species are seen throughout the state, DEP has continued to protect the watershed through education and outreach efforts, surveys to identify new infestations early, and control projects to suppress the growth of priority invasive species that could threaten water quality by hampering or changing forest regeneration, or affecting the ecology of watershed streams and reservoirs.
“Public information is one of the best tools we have in the fight against invasive species,&rdquo DEP Acting Commissioner Vincent Sapienza said. “There are small, effective steps that every New Yorker can take to protect our natural resources by preventing the spread of animals, plants and microorganisms from other parts of the globe. As environmental educators spread good information throughout the state, DEP will also be aggressive with programs to identify invasive species in our watershed and prevent their spread wherever possible.&rdquo
New York State’s Invasive Species Awareness Week was established in 2014 to promote knowledge of invasive species, to help stop their spread by engaging citizens in a wide range of activities, and to encourage New Yorkers to take action.
Because the spread of invasive species poses a risk to New York City’s reservoirs and the forest lands that protect clean water, DEP has long administered programs to prevent, detect and control or remove them. DEP was among the first groups in New York to require steam cleaning for all boats entering its waters. Steam cleaning disinfects the boats and prevents the spread of invasive species such as zebra mussels, which can harm water quality and clog water intakes. The City has also encouraged local residents and watershed visitors to arrive with clean, drained, and dry gear, and to never dump leftover bait or aquariums that can contain invasive species.
New York City reservoirs are regularly surveyed for aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels, hydrilla and water chestnut. Particular focus is given to the areas where new invaders are most likely to be introduced, such as boat launches or areas where tributaries enter the reservoirs. When a species is detected, plans are developed to control or remove it. For example, DEP has been mitigating the impacts of the emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle that kills ash trees, since it was first detected around Ashokan Reservoir in 2010. Several thousand beetle-infested ash trees have been removed through timber harvests while the wood retained its value, allowing the trees to be used for cabinetry, wood flooring and other products. Hazard trees near roadsides and walking paths continue to be removed. To mitigate its impact on public safety and other swaths of forest, DEP continues to survey other parts of the watershed to track the emerald ash borer’s spread.
As the ash trees continue to die off, DEP has also taken steps to allow new forests to grow. This requires other invasive species to be managed. Invasive shrubs such as Japanese barberry and multiflora rose are controlled in areas where loggers will be working. Currently there is a pilot deer exclosure in two areas that were recently harvested. Scientists are examining the enclosed area to better understand the effect of deer and invasive species on young trees as they first begin to grow.
Recent legislation has made it illegal to buy, sell or transport 126 invasive species in New York, including Japanese knotweed, hydrilla and Eurasian boars.
DEP encourages all its watershed neighbors to learn more about invasive species at New York’s official invasive species website, http://nyis.info. A list of events to mark Invasive Species Awareness Week can also be found on the state DEC website. To learn more about what DEP is doing to protect the watershed from invasive species, visit our invasive species page.
DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than 1 billion gallons of high-quality water each day to more than 9.5 million New Yorkers. This includes more than 70 upstate communities and institutions in Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties who consume an average of 110 million total gallons of drinking water daily from New York City’s water supply system. This water comes from the Catskill, Delaware, and Croton watersheds that extend more than 125 miles from the City, and the system comprises 19 reservoirs, three controlled lakes, and numerous tunnels and aqueducts. DEP has nearly 6,000 employees, including almost 1,000 scientists, engineers, surveyors, watershed maintainers and other professionals in the watershed. In addition to its $70 million payroll and $166 million in annual taxes paid in upstate counties, DEP has invested more than $1.7 billion in watershed protection programs—including partnership organizations such as the Catskill Watershed Corporation and the Watershed Agricultural Council—that support sustainable farming practices, environmentally sensitive economic development, and local economic opportunity. In addition, DEP has a robust capital program with $20.7 billion in investments planned over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, visit http://nyc.gov/dep.