by E. J. Sieyes
Over the past fifty years a number of green organizations have become increasingly aware of and taken proactive measures to combat invasive foreign species. The progression of African bees and Fire Ants occasionally receives media attention. Bamboo is now widely visible along the commuter train right of way outside Washington, D.C., and this weed is beginning to invade old growth forests in central and western Maryland and Virginia. The Asian Clam began appearing in Florida waters over fifty years ago, and the proliferation of exotic tropical reptiles like the Burmese Python receives occasional press notice. Other invasive species can be found all over the nation. The US Department of Agriculture maintains an information resource describing invasive species and control measures of the states and federal government.
In New York, invasive species pose a serious ecological and economic threat in the St. Lawrence – Eastern Lake Ontario region, especially in Jefferson, Oswego, Oneida, St. Lawrence, and Lewis counties. The St. Lawrence – Eastern Lake Ontario Partnership For Regional Invasive Species Management (SLELO PRISM) was formed in 2005 to protect the natural and cultural integrity of aquatic and terrestrial areas from invasive plant and animal species, such as feral swine, the New Zealand mud snail, Grass carp, giant hogweed, and Japanese Knotweed. For information on what you can do to help, contact Rob Williams, PRISM Coordinator, at (315)-387-3600 x25 or visithttp://www.sleloinvasives.org/.
The root cause of this problem is both economic and recreational. Fifty years ago, shipping through the Saint Lawrence Seaway opened a vast territory and drainage basin in Central New York to an influx of foreign invasive species. The Asian Clam is now proliferating through major lakes in New York – for example, earlier this year network news reported on efforts to control this invasive species in Lake George. Beyond importation via shipping, intentional introduction of foreign, exotic species occurs as irresponsible owners discard unwanted plants and animals into our natural habitat. New York State and federal laws have proved inadequate to protect our native ecosystem, and to promote responsible ownership and proper disposition of exotic, invasive species. Yet our politicians continue their failure to adequately address this problem amidst their petty partisan games. We need GREEN representation in the State and federal legislatures to bring this issue to the forefront.