Invasive species are non-native plants and animals that cause harm to the environment and/or human health and put at risk economically important industries including farming, forestry, tourism, and commercial and recreational fishing. Invasive species are expensive to manage or eradicate and cost taxpayers millions of dollars each year. Invasive plants such as dog strangling vine smother agricultural crops and aquatic invasive species like Eurasian water milfoil reduce water quality, property values and recreational boating opportunities. Nationally, the impact of invasive species is estimated at $167 billion annually.
One example of an invasive species in New York is the emerald ash borer, a beetle that's been accidentally introduced to the United States by hiding in wood-shipping containers received from oversees. When these beetles got to our shores they began targeting our American ash trees and killing them with their boring, feeding, and egg laying. This is where the threat to the Mets and Yankees comes in!
Most baseball bats used in the major leagues are from ash trees — a wood that doesn't splinter as easily as maple. The spread of this bug is a real concern for companies that produce baseball bats and have large tree holdings in the East, such as Louisville Slugger. If we lose our native ash tree resources, bat manufactures will have to begin importing their bats from China. American forests have produced our bats since the days of Abner Doubleday, and importing bats for MLB teams all over the US will increase the financial and environmental cost of baseball tremendously.
New York’s Adirondack region remains relatively free of invasive species. Two out of three waters surveyed by volunteers are free of aquatic invasive plants such as Eurasian watermilfoil. The average size of a Japanese knotweed infestation and other terrestrial invasive plants is less than 0.1 acres in the interior Adirondacks. This presents a real opportunity to hold the line of spread.
The Invasive Species Prevention Act, sponsored by the Adirondack’s own Senator Little and co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Sayward, gives regional efforts the extra boost needed to be successful by making it illegal to sell and transport invasive species in the state.
The Invasive Species Prevention Act recognizes the gravity of the threat and importance of statewide action. Central and Western New York has seen the economic and environmental impacts that invasive species can have. Whether it’s water chestnut choking one of our lakes, swallow-wort damaging fields, or emerald ash-borer threatening our forests, the spread of invasive species must be reduced or eliminated.
For example, a coalition of government and non-governmental groups around Cayuga Lake may need to spend $5 to $8 million in the coming years to manage hydrilla, an aggressive and fast-spreading aquatic invasive plant. With the recent discovery of Asian Carp DNA in the Great Lakes system by researchers at The Nature Conservancy, University of Notre Dame and Central Michigan University, State action cannot come soon enough.
Towns along the Hudson have spent millions of dollars removing zebra mussels from water intake valves. In many lakes, people can no longer enjoy walking barefoot as the sharp shells from the zebra mussels are like glass. In addition, the snakehead fish was recently found in a tributary to the Hudson River. This ferocious fish, can walk across land, live out of water for multiple days and outcompetes other important species like bass and trout.
Invasive species threaten the bays and harbors surrounding Long Island, which could have significant impacts on the local economy and jobs that depend on them. Long Island has led the charge to protect their vital industries, agriculture and the environment by passing local laws that restricts the sale and importation of invasive species. Setting a Statewide standard furthers the efforts of Nassau and Suffolk Counties and will add greater protection to our State’s important natural assets.July 30, 2012