Pa. launches effort to stop invasive species at lakes

HARRISBURG — The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is launching an effort at nine state parks this summer to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species and get boaters involved in invasive species detection.

“Boats, motors and trailers have ideal hiding spots where species may attach and be transported to new locations,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “Boaters must be involved in helping us protect state park waters from invaders to benefit our environment and avoid very costly measures to treat lakes once these non-native species take hold.”

Starting this week, DCNR staff will do voluntary boat and trailer checks at boat launches on park lakes, handing out informational brochures and demonstrating how to do an inspection.

Boat checks will take place in the following state parks: Prince Gallitzin, Cambria County; Bald Eagle, Centre County; Presque Isle, Erie County; Pymatuning, Crawford County; Beltzville, Carbon County; Codorus, York County; Gifford Pinchot, York County; M.K. Goddard, Mercer County; and Moraine, Butler County.

If aquatic species are found, they will be removed and collected, providing data that will assist in management practices.

Aquatic invasive species could include zebra mussels, hydrilla, water chestnut and starry stonewort. Once these species are introduced, they disrupt ecosystems, causing harm to the environment, the economy and human health. They negatively influence the rivers, lakes, ponds and activities boaters enjoy.

As Pennsylvania experiences warmer and wetter weather impacts from climate change, invasive species could increase in abundance. DCNR is working with the Pennsylvania Invasive Species Council to review and expand monitoring to ensure that changes in natural communities, species distribution, and populations are detected and addressed, if appropriate.

Boaters can help stop aquatic hitchhikers by taking the following steps before leaving the access area where the boat is removed:

n Clean boats and trailers of any plants, organisms, mud or other material from the water.

n Drain water from watercraft, bilge, bladder tanks, livewell and portable bait containers.

n Dry everything for five days between waters, or if not possible, wipe with a towel before reuse

For more information about stopping aquatic hitchhikers, visit www.protectyourwaters.net.