State officials seek more flexibility in choosing eradication methods
By Gwendolyn Craig
The state Department of Environmental Conservation seeks more flexibility in managing invasive species on state land, prompting the Adirondack Park Agency to ask the public for comments on potential changes.
The DEC wants to update the Inter-Agency Guidelines for Best Management Practices to control invasive species in the Adirondack Park. The guidelines were adopted in 2007 and amended four times since 2018. The APA invites public comment on DEC’s proposed additional changes through July 11.
“Over the years the list of both species and tools has grown,” according to the guideline document. “The procedure for amending the guidelines did not enable staff to react quickly as new species came to the Park and new tools and methodologies were developed to address these invasive species.”
Megan Phillips, deputy director for planning at the APA, showed her commissioners last week some of the differences between the current and proposed guidelines.
The draft would allow the DEC to propose the use of aquatic herbicide as a best management practice, an option not currently in the guidelines. The proposed revisions would also allow DEC and APA to determine what species can be managed rather than rely on a list.
“(The changes) give us that flexibility where we’re not stuck with a list,” said Eric Kasza, of the DEC’s division of lands and forests. “We don’t have a crystal ball. We don’t know what the next invasion is going to be.”
Changes would also allow DEC to propose work plans for management rather than relying on a list of species-specific control methods. The draft suggests these changes could allow for faster and more effective management, saving time and money.
“Experience has shown that eradication of an invasive species becomes progressively more difficult, more expensive, and less effective the longer the species is allowed to grow and spread without intervention,” the document reads.
Kasza said when the guidelines were first developed “invasive species were kind of a new concept, especially within the park.” Making amendments to the document as different invasive species reared their heads became time-consuming.
In some instances, the DEC may propose a rapid response work plan instead of a standard work plan. In the event of a rapid response, the APA would have about two weeks to review the plan and decide if it conforms with its rules and regulations. A standard work plan allows for a month-long review.
“What happens if the APA and DEC do not agree?” APA Commissioner Andrea Hogan asked at Thursday’s board meeting.
Phillips said the DEC and APA try to be in accord, but ultimately if the agency does not find a proposal conforming to its rules and regulations, it would not go forward.
Randy Young, DEC’s Region 6 director, filling in for APA Commissioner and DEC representative Joe Zalewski, added that aquatic pesticides are heavily regulated by the DEC. Using them often requires layers of permits and reviews.
The agency board voted to send the draft changes to public comment. To view the documents go to: https://www.apa.ny.gov/Mailing/2022/06/stateLand.htm. Written comments may be submitted by July 11 to Phillips at NYS Adirondack Park Agency, P.O. Box 99, Ray Brook, NY 12977 or to [email protected]
The agency also approved changes to the DEC’s plans for campgrounds and day-use areas to allow for permanent placement of watercraft decontamination facilities to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Currently, DEC houses these machines, which direct high-pressure spray with heated water, in temporary sheds.
During the 30-day public comment period, four people submitted feedback in favor of the change.
“This one is as close to motherhood and apple pie as we might get,” Phillips said.
The full board approved the change.