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Aquatic invasive species threaten the Finger Lakes ecosystem: “We’ve got to stop the spread”

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article listed Hydrilla as the most populous AIS in the Finger Lakes. In actuality, it’s a more rare invasive species, but a high priority for eradication in the Finger Lakes. 

There are hundreds of invasive species in the Finger Lakes region. Of those species, aquatic invasive species (AIS) are among the most prevalent and disruptive to the local ecosystem.

Mark Apfelbacher, President and co-founder of CD3 Systems, said AIS could have long-term negative impacts on properties and the overall health and well-being of the Finger Lakes.

What is being done to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species in the FLX? (video)

More: DEC launches new aquatic invasive species requirements for motorized boats in Adirondack waters

Clean, drain, dry and dispose

CD3, ‘clean, drain, dry, dispose’ is a general benefit corporation working to create technologies that prevent the spread of invasive species. They manufacture waterless cleaning systems that are self-service, designed for the public to take the action to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species in lakes.

One of those technologies that CD3 has brought to the Finger Lakes is their solar-powered waterless boat cleaning stations. The company has three different stations in the Finger Lakes including one in Cortland, Owasco Lake and Cayuga Lake.

“You don’t have to be a biological expert on native aquatic plants. You just got to know how to remove all water and vegetation with the tools that are on a CD3 system. They are a wet-dry vacuum air blower system and hand tools and they also have lights.”

More: DEC joins Great Lakes, Northeast states and Canadian provinces to announces annual Aquatic Invasive Species Landing Blitz July 1 through July 10

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

Invasive species are hard to combat with no predators

Invasive species outcompete other native species that are naturally found in a lake because they don’t have many predators or competition in the lake. Therefore, they can continuously grow and cause a huge problem to the overall ecology.

“The species in the Finger Lakes region that are of concern, the three or four that are pretty big concern hydrilla milfoil, zebra quagga mussels, and then frogbit is another one that’s a big concern for the region,” said Apfelbacher.

Sam Beck-Andersen is the associate director of Invasive Species Programs at the Finger Lakes Institute and coordinator for the Finger Lakes Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM). He said ‘hydrilla’ is the more rare invasives, however, it’s very high priority for the region.

More: Starry Stonewart, an invasive species, has been spotted in Conesus Lake

What can you do to prevent the spread of AIS?

“We want to put the power into the hands of the public so that they know what they can do to stop the spread of invasive species and where they can essentially help us in our battle to prevent invasive species,” said Beck-Andersen.

Both Apfelbacher and Beck-Andersen believe putting the tools into people’s hands can stop the spread of AIS.

“We got to stop the spread. We know people are doing it, we have to give them the tools to the public to take those actions. And we have to allow time for us to identify new ways to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species,” said Apfelbacher.

More: DEC reminds water recreationists to ‘clean, drain, and dry’ watercraft and equipment to protect New York’s waters from invasive species