US Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Elise Stefanik, Democrat and Republican respectively, both pledged bi-partisan support for measures to combat invasive species during separate appearances in the Lake George region last week.
Asked to comment on reports that watercraft carrying the especially destructive invasive Hydrilla had passed through an inspection station on Lake George without being detected, Senator Schumer said, “We know what we have to do to combat invasive species; we have to commit the resources.”
Earlier this summer, Schumer announced that he had secured federal funding to fight a newly discovered Hydrilla outbreak in the Finger Lakes and last week said he would “get the funding needed” to fight invasives on Lake George and other Adirondack waterbodies too.
“We have great lakes here,” Schumer said during a visit to Fort Ticonderoga on August 4.
Invasive species pose serious and costly threats to the vitality, natural beauty, and economic stability of the Lake George region, said Schumer, noting that he first came to Lake George with his family as a three-year-old.
Invasive species prevention, he continued, was an area where he and Representative Stefanik could work together in a bi-partisan collaboration.
“There’s been lots of good bi-partisan support for invasive species prevention; when the President’s budget cut funding, Democrats and Republicans came together and said ‘no’,” Schumer said.
Representative Stefanik, who co-chairs the House Invasive Species Caucus and has introduced a Stamp Out Invasive Species Act, discussed the same issue with a reporter after meeting with US military veterans in Saratoga County on August 1.
Stefanik praised the inspection programs on Lake George and in the Adirondacks designed to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Stefanik also said she’s working on setting up a meeting to discuss the latest invasive species to impact the region, the Hemlock woolly adelgid, which threatens to decimate hemlock forests such as those on Prospect Mountain where the insect was recently discovered.
“We are actually in conversation with some of the local leaders on this issue,” Stefanik said. “I’m working on setting up an event in Hague, later on this fall, specifically focused on the hemlock issue, which I know is a challenge in the Warren County region.”
“We do need federal support for combating invasive species – not prevention, but eradication,” she said.
Following the reports that Hydrilla is being transported by boats entering the Adirondacks, The S.A.V.E. Lake George Partnership issued statements calling upon federal and state leaders to make “comprehensive commitments in the earliest possible timeframe” to fund invasive species prevention and eradication measures.
“While we need robust invasives prevention like the program at Lake George, we will not win by playing defense alone,” said Eric Siy, executive director of The Fund for Lake George. “Preemption provides the offense we need, taking the fight to its source: to the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River, and other waters where such species exist and stopping them before they are anywhere near our waters.”
Siy added, “Because New York serves as gateway for invasives nationwide, decisive leadership here will protect the state and the entire country.”
The S.A.V.E. Lake George Partnership, which was created to help fund Lake George’s invasive species prevention program and which is led by local government officials, stated that it will be meeting in the near future with the staffs of Stefanik and Schumer to seek additional federal funding to combat invasive species.