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Letter to the Editor: Help Fight AIS During Invasive Species Awareness Week

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CORTLANDT, N.Y. -- Cortlandt Daily Voice accepts signed and original letters to the editor up to 350 words. To submit your letter, email cortlandt@dailyvoice.com

Invasive Species Awareness Week is July 9-16, and local groups (like Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct) are working to fight invasive invaders by hosting plant removal events. We are also trying to spread the word to help prevent further spread of invasive species in our waterways.

Aquatic invasive species (AIS) pose a significant threat to our environment and local economy. As part of Envision Cortlandt’s townwide survey, 85% of our community indicated its desire to preserve precious ecosystems and habitats to become more sustainable. As part of its goal to protect wildlife and maintain biodiversity, the Town developed specific Sustainable Comprehensive Plan policies to protect and/or restore natural areas including water resources. AIS (like hydrilla, Eurasian watermilfoil and Water Chestnut) compete with native aquatic vegetation and hinder recreation and wildlife. Left unchecked, AIS rapidly multiplies until a dense canopy chokes the entire waterway and fishing, boating or swimming is no longer viable.

New Yorkers have worked together for years to address invasive species through coordination, prevention, education, detection and management initiatives. Clearwater's Invasive Species Program Manager now offers free aquatic invasive species training around the Lower Hudson Valley, and municipalities are doing their best to keep pace. Millions of New York dollars are spent yearly to manage invasive infestations, but prevention yields the greatest economic return.

In the Croton River, herbicide treatments have been approved by the NYSDEC to begin on July 5th through October to treat hydrilla infestation. That treatment (using the aquatic herbicide fluridone [Sonar Genesis]) is intended to control the growth and spread of the highly invasive hydrilla plant to reduce its long term impacts on recreation, ecology and water quality and preserve the Croton River for recreation.

As citizens, we all have an important vigilance and prevention role to play. Boaters must inspect and decontaminate their boats and equipment. Our Town/Villages must continue to help prevent the spread of AIS and collaborate with other agencies and stakeholders. Please consider volunteering for one of the many environmental groups in Cortlandt and Croton to help stop the spread of invasive species in our area.

Jim Creighton

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