NEW YORK (WWTI) — Boaters are being encouraged to do their part to protect waterways from invasive species this Memorial Day weekend.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the St. Lawrence Eastern Lake Ontario Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management are advising residents on how invasive species can easily spread to new areas. To combat the issue boaters are encouraged to clean, drain, and dry boats and trailers, and disinfect fishing gear before entering New York’s waters.

To help boaters make sure they aren’t bringing an invasive species somewhere else, watercraft inspection will be stationed at more than 225 boat launches throughout the state starting May 27. The boat stewards can be identified by their blue vests and will be available to educate and assist the public in cleaning their equipment, provide a refresher on how to inspect boats and gear, and offer information about AIS in New York.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos stressed the importance of keeping New York waters safe from invasive species.

“New York’s abundant lakes, ponds, and streams are vital to the state’s ecology and economy, which is why DEC and our partners are helping protect against the impacts of aquatic invasive species,” said Commissioner Seggos. “Recreating responsibly in New York waters is a critical component for preventing the spread of invasive pests and our dedicated boat stewards will be working hard to protect New York’s waters for the benefit and enjoyment of all. I’m asking New Yorkers to follow their useful instructions to help prevent aquatic invaders.”

According to DEC, stewards provided courtesy inspections for more than 240,000 boaters and intercepted over 14,000 AIS, including zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil, and curly-leaf pondweed last year. The DEC stated that each species could have potentially established new populations as equipment was moved from waterbody to waterbody.

The SLELO program will also host Launch and Learn events every Monday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., from July 11 through August 8. Stewards will give live demonstrations showcasing aquatic invasive species and prevention techniques you can practice to help protect the region’s boating, fishing, and swimming spots. A complete schedule of the events is listed below.

  • July 11: Butterfield Boat launch in Redwood, NY 
  • July 18: East End Waterfront Park and Boat Launch in Cape Vincent
  • July 25: Lakeview WMA- South Sandy Creek Car-top boat Launch in Mannsville, NY
  • August 1: Wrights Landing Marina in Oswego, NY
  • August 8: Delta Lake State Park Boat Launch in Rome, NY

More information on how to properly inspect a boat can be found here. More details of the Launch and Learn and the Watercraft Inspection Steward Program can be found here.