It’s that time again. The waters of New York are looking irresistible to paddlers and boaters across the state. We can’t wait to get out across our translucent waters and cut the surface with our paddles. As I write this there is a lake out there somewhere, shrouded in mist with a lone loon calling in surreal dusk…which makes it incredibly hard to sit here and write this.
However, what every water sport enthusiast needs to be aware of this year is invasive species. There are few things that threaten our waters to the same extent as an invasion of foreign pests. We’ve all seen it. Those boat launches shrouded in thick green mats of vegetation? That is likely water chestnut, making you try and launch without getting a toe in the gross water. That pungent odor of dead vegetation mixed with a hint of low tide? That is most likely large decaying mats of invasive plants.
These invaders are more than an assault on our olfactory and visual senses. They cause permanent damage to native ecosystems. Outcompeting the local species, these invasives create the large single species “mats” that we see floating on the surface or writhing underneath. New York State’s waters are gorgeous and it is up to us, the paddlers and the boaters, to help keep them that way.
But how you might ask? It is as simple as Clean, Drain and Dry.
- Clean your craft after removing from the water
- Drain it of water (this includes bilge areas and livewells)
- Dry it before your next adventure
It really is that simple. A good faith effort on your part can save an entire water body from invasion and its demise. It’s important to remember that these are guidelines and you will not always be in the position to perfectly clean your watercraft. For example, using a bailout bucket and some water to clean your kayak during a portage is sufficient for cleaning in that situation. You need to be flexible and creative with your solution to specific situations, however a good faith effort goes a lot farther then no effort at all. With the fate of our gorgeous water ecosystems in our hands I urge water recreationalists to spread the word, it is time to Clean, Drain and Dry!
P.S. If you plan to launch from land under the jurisdiction of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation you are required by law to clean, drain and dry. http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/98240.html