Tonawanda News

Local News

December 17, 2013

State 'PRISMs' tackle invasive species in Tonawandas

Tonawanda News — New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens said his outfit has recently completed a contract geared to the Western New York region that would address the issue of invasive species. 

Martens said that the completion of the contract established eight entities called the Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management, or PRISMs, that focus on education, outreach and monitoring programs across the state. 

Among an array of species threatening the state are the onset Zebra Mussels in the Great Lakes, as well as the ever-looming threat of Asian Carp, which officials say have been halted at the mouth of the Mississippi River. 

Martens also cited the successes in controlling other invasive species through PRISM, such as controlling giant hogweed, a plant that causes severe skin reactions, and other invasive plants such as black swallowwort, Phragmites and Japanese knotweed. 

"Invasive species can have a devastating effect, not only on the environment, but also on the economy," Martens said. "By partnering with non-profits, universities and consultants, New York is establishing one of the nation’s most comprehensive approaches to invasive species management. A regional, coordinated approach that benefits from research, statewide education and outreach, online resources and a robust database are critical to New York’s success in managing invasive species."

PRISMs are regional private-public partnerships that have diverse memberships, including local and state governments, conservation and trade organizations, academia, landowner associations and interested citizens.

The partnerships are focused on shared goals including education and outreach, developing and coordinating volunteer invasive species monitoring programs and controlling select invasive species in priority locations, according to the DEC. The PRISMs are funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. 

"The state's sustained commitment to advancing its invasive species program enabled the development of one of the most comprehensive frameworks in the country," said Hilary Smith, chair of the New York Invasive Species Advisory Committee and Director of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program PRISM. "Involving governmental and non-governmental organizations in shared decision-making is essential for success and has inspired innovative and effective approaches now underway."

The DEC recently published proposed invasive species regulations including lists of species proposed for prohibition or regulation that are open for public comment through Dec. 23 and four hearings are underway statewide. More information on the proposed regulations can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/2359.html. 

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