For the first time, New York would classify non-native plants and animals to help prevent the spread of invasive species through waterways, forests and farmlands, under a proposal unveiled today by the state Invasive Species Council.
The Council released a draft report, "A Regulatory System for Non-Native Species," that calls for a multi-pronged approach to tackling one of the state's fastest growing environmental threats. Among other recommendations, the Council proposed a new assessment system for invasive species – such as zebra mussels, Sirex wood wasps and Eurasion milfoil – that would allow the state to categorize them as "prohibited," "regulated" or "unregulated." Such a classification system would help restrict movement of potentially harmful plants and animals.
The Council, created by state statute, comprises nine state agencies and is co-led by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM). The Council released the draft report for public comment through May 14 (details below). Following finalization, the report will be sent to Governor David A. Paterson and the state Legislature for possible action.
"Invasive species have a devastating impact, not only on the environment but also the economy," DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said. "They have wiped out certain tree species, hurt recreational and commercial fishing, and tainted water supplies. The best way to prevent their spread is to focus on the many pathways by which plants and animals are moved around the globe. The system the Council is proposing strikes the right balance of minimizing the major threats to our ecology and economy while allowing for the careful use of plants and animals that pose lower risks."
The Public Review Draft of the "invasive species list report" - A Regulatory System for Non-native Species - has been released for public comment. Comments will be received through 14 May 2010.
You can find the Report at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/63402.html