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Boat launch laws will combat invasive species ADVERTISEMENT

Boat launch laws will combat invasive species

PENN YAN--Keuka Lake Association (KLA) President Bill Laffin spoke to the Penn Yan village board Tuesday, April 21, about posting signs warning boaters about aquatic invasive species (AIS). He said recent state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) regulations now require all public boat launches to post warning signs to alert boaters to take preventative measures to reduce the spread of AIS, adding the KLA plans to assist the village in acquiring the needed signage.
"At this point in time, there is only one new mandate that has actually come out of Albany, and that just came out April 13," Laffin said. "That is they are now requiring all public boat launches [...] post in conspicuous place a designated 'protect your waterways' sign. [...] The mandate is that sign must be posted at all launches by Sept. 23 of this year."
Laffin said Keuka Lake has six public boat launches, specifically highlighting the state park boat launch in Branchport and the boat launch in Penn Yan as two key sites. Laffin said the KLA plans to procure the signs and donate them to the villages and towns around the lake with a boat launch. He said the KLA is currently working with other lake associations in the area to find a suitable sign manufacturer to "get the cost of these things down." Laffin said the sign requirement comes from state laws passed last year meant to reduce the introduction and spread of AIS in the state.
"Two laws were passed by New York State in 2014 regarding aquatic invasive species," Laffin said. "They were meant to inform boaters of the threat of AIS and to lessen the inadvertent transportation by boaters of aquatic invasives from one body of water to another. They will require that boaters take reasonable precautions to ensure that AIS is not introduced while launching a boat in public waters. Boaters will be required to remove visible plant life and animal material as well as drain live wells and bilges."
Laffin said the DEC has until September of this year to finalize the main mandates of the new law, adding he expects it to follow what the DEC published last year in the draft AIS management plan. He said there are 50 specific actions mentioned in the plan, but only three of them really apply to the area. Laffin said one action is to expand the boat launch program, another is to ensure the boat launch program is consistent throughout the state, while the third one is to implement an AIS program throughout the state.
Laffin also spoke about running a boat launch stewardship program this year, adding there are 30 different commercial fishing tournaments in 2015 launching out of the Penn Yan and Branchport sites. He said many of the participants are from out of state clubs -- primarily Pennsylvania -- adding they plan to focus more on transient boaters rather than the ones who stay on Keuka Lake.
"It is our intent to cover as many of these events as possible to help reduce the threat of the spread and introduction of AIS into Keuka," Laffin said.
Laffin said the stewardship program will consist of volunteers, adding while they have no legal authority to clean someone's boat or bar them from entering the waters, he is hoping boaters will become aware and voluntarily comply with the precautionary measures.

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