The Lower Hudson PRISM's Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Program began in of April 2015, with the goal to educate the public about aquatic invasive species and get citizens involved in invasive species surveying and spread prevention. In 2019, the program moved to Teatown Lake Reservation which hosts the AIS Program Coordinator, Lindsay Yoder. The program consists of education and outreach initiatives, volunteer training, the Watercraft Inspection Steward Program, and new this year, the Aquatic Invasives Strike Force Crew.
Aquatic Invasives Strike Force Crew
The AISF Crew is a part of the Trail Conference Conservation Corps, an AmeriCorps program hosted by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and funded by the Lower Hudson PRISM. The crew's primary responsibilities fall within two projects: Monitoring and Management and Education and Outreach. They spend the season surveying and mapping AIS occurrences throughout the Lower Hudson region, assisting in outreach events and trainings, participating in water chestnut removals and special partner projects, as well as conducting watercraft inspections for the LH PRISM Watercraft Inspection Steward Program.
Watercraft Inspection Steward Program
Aquatic invasive species are plants or animals not native to our ecosystems and can threaten the ecology of our waterways, economy, or human health. These species are a huge threat to New York’s waterways that can cost millions of dollars annually if ignored. Watercraft Inspection Steward Programs are becoming more popular nationwide, and have been very successful at limiting aquatic invasive species spread via hitchhikers on boats.
Teatown Lake Reservation’s Watercraft Inspection Steward Program for the Lower Hudson Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM), formerly housed at the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, has been operating since 2015, when the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation provided funding to various non-profit organizations to implement the program at launches throughout New York State. These programs provide free, voluntary boat inspections to recreational boaters and fisherman, and remove any animal or plant material that is found on the boat. Watercraft inspections help to minimize the amount of potentially invasive aquatic species from spreading into our waterways.
The primary goal is to educate boaters, anglers, and all recreational users about aquatic invasive species and how clean boating practices can minimize their spread. Since its inception, the Lower Hudson PRISM’s Watercraft Inspection Steward Program has inspected over 9,200 boats and educated more than 12,000 people about aquatic invasive species and spread prevention measures. The program has been met with substantial praise, with nearly 90% participation over the past five seasons.
The program will continue in 2020, with crew members rotating through three launches in Esopus, Haverstraw, and Peekskill, NY as well as providing inspections at outreach days in State Parks.
How You Can Help
The AIS Program offers numerous types of educational opportunities that allow citizens to help in the fight against their spread. Through seminars, workshops, and trainings, Teatown is empowering more citizens to be on the lookout for new infestations and help prevent established infestations from spreading.
- Assist the Crew: New York has over 500 priority lakes, all which need to be mapped! Help us at any of the scheduled survey days this season. Perfect for those who don't have access to their own boats and are interested in a group opportunity.
- Adopt-a-Lake: Perfect for kayak/canoe recreational enthusiasts who would like to expand their activities on the water and give back! Adopt a lake to survey and monitor for AIS, for one season or long-term. If you're a part of a lake association, learn how to identify and report what's in your own backyard.
- Shoreline Spotters: Be the first line of defense in AIS Rapid Response! Many invasions begin near boat launches; as a Shoreline Spotter, you can scope out and alert us of any new infestations by sampling from the shore.
- Join our iNaturalist Project: AIS are notoriously underreported, but iNaturalist makes it easier than ever! Join our project and snap photos of any aquatic species you find.
If you're interested in any of these options, email Lindsay Yoder at firstname.lastname@example.org