Manage Aquatic Species

Benthic mats can be used to manage various aquatic invasive species but a permit must be acquired prior to installation. Photo by Gus Goodwin

Benthic mats can be used to manage various aquatic invasive species but a permit must be acquired prior to installation. Photo by Gus Goodwin

Aquatic invasive species disrupt the natural integrity of aquatic ecosystems and can proliferate to nuisance levels. The cost and effort required to control species such as Eurasian watermilfoil and Asian clam increases dramatically following their establishment, while the probability for eradication decreases. Detecting an infestation early and responding rapidly, if effective controls exist, increases the likelihood of successful eradication. In many cases, however, eradication of an aquatic invasive species is not feasible and a long-term commitment to containment and management is required.

Management options for aquatic invasive species include physical, chemical, or biological controls. The appropriate control method must be selected based on project goals, intended use of the waterway, level of infestation, site-specific constraints, costs, and regulatory requirements.

Below are a few useful resources on aquatic plant management:

Hand-harvesting of Nuisance and Invasive Aquatic Plants

Photo by Aquatic Invasive Management, LLC

Photo by Aquatic Invasive Management, LLC

The APA developed a flyer, Hand Harvesting of Aquatic Plants, which provides guidance for individual landowners that have nuisance growths of native or invasive aquatic plants that interfere with recreational access to a waterway.

A permit is not required for the removal of wetland plants, including their roots, under the following specific circumstances:

  • The removal is conducted in open water less than 2 meters (6 feet) deep;
  • The removal is conducted entirely by hand;
  • The removal leaves at least 200 square feet of contiguous indigenous wetland in the immediate vicinity;
  • The removal does not involve taking more than 1000 square feet of indigenous wetland plants;
  • The removal does not involve the application of pesticides or matting;
  • The removal is not part of a larger harvesting program by individuals or groups;
  • No rare or endangered species are removed or disturbed; and
  • The removal is not associated with any other activity involving wetlands, including dredging, filling, or other action regulated under Section 578.3(n) of Agency regulations.

Permits for Aquatic Plant Management Activities

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) administers the Freshwater Wetlands Act within the Adirondack Park. Activities which influence the function or benefits derived from freshwater wetlands are considered regulated activities and require prior approval by the APA. In this context, Agency jurisdiction extends to submerged wetland communities (deep water marsh) up to 2 meters (6.6 feet) in depth. Management of nuisance invasive or native aquatic plants within this shoreline area is subject to Agency review and permitting. The Agency also recognizes the importance of aquatic plants and animal communities living below this water depth.

A permit from the Adirondack Park Agency is required for activities which go beyond the hand harvesting activities for individual landowners outlined above. These larger scale activities may include hand- and suction- harvesting, the installation of benthic mats, lake draw downs, and chemical and biological controls. These projects have the potential to affect larger areas (possibly whole plant communities) and may result in profound changes in an ecosystem. The activities also have the potential to impact other users of the water resource. As a result, professionals (e.g. aquatic biologists, certified lake managers) who are experienced in aquatic plant identification, AIS management,  or other disciplines may provide applicants with guidance regarding possible management strategies. These professionals can also perform the pre-management plant surveys which are necessary to delineate the location and boundaries of the target species and to identify and record the location(s) of any NYS protected plant species.

To learn more about the Adirondack Park Agency or wetland permits, please visit the Adirondack Park Agency website or call 518-891-4050.