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It Takes 3 Minutes to Protect Waterways with Watercraft Stewards

posted by Slelo Prism at 2023-05-08 12:50:00

Boaters can visit watercraft stewards for voluntary inspections starting Memorial Day Weekend.
Memorial Day is around the corner and boaters eager to get out on the water can do their part to protect their waterways with a 3-minute visit to a watercraft steward. Watercraft stewards are stationed at boat launches throughout New York State and serve as the front line against the spread and introduction of aquatic invasive species (AIS). Hydrilla and other AIS can easily be introduced to new waterbodies on watercraft, trailers, and other equipment.  To prevent the spread of AIS, Stewards provide free voluntary watercraft inspections and deliver an important message to encourage recreationists to take action to protect their waters by Cleaning, Draining, and Drying their watercraft. 

Typically taking about 3-minutes, watercraft Inspection consists of visually inspecting all boating and recreational equipment that come in cotact with water; removing any visible plants, animals, or mud materials; and draining any compartments tht may hold water. During the inspections, stewards collect important data on where boaters are coming from, headed next, and if they’re aware of invasive species issues. This information helps to inform the state-wide Watercraft Steward Inspection Program to be more efficient and effective at conserving New York’s waters. Find boat launches with watercraft stewards and decontamination stations at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s interactive online map https://bit.ly/boatlaunchmap.

The St. Lawrence Eastern Lake Ontario Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (SLELO PRISM) in collaboration with the Thousand Islands Land Trust, are leading a watercraft inspection steward program spanning from the St. Lawrence River to Eastern Lake Ontario and Oneida Lake. The program runs annually from Memorial Day in late May through early October.

About Invasive Species
Invasive species are non-native species that cause harm to the environment, economy, or human health. Invasive species are easily spread by people and can have huge consequences when introduced to natural ecosystems. There are simple actions that people can take like cleaning, draining, and drying their watercraft and equipment before entering a new body of water, cleaning their shoes before and after a hike, by not moving firewood, growing native plants in their gardens, and controlling invasives found on their property.

To help community members take these actions, SLELO PRISM developed the Pledge to Protect, where people can access online resources to learn more about invasive species and ways to prevent their spread, and ways to control them on their own property. People are encouraged to sign up for the ‘Pledge-To-Protect’ online at,  iPledgeToProtect.org; upon sign up they will become a protector and receive a monthly email blog showcasing simple actions they can take to protect their favorite outdoor spaces from the impacts of invasive species.

The St. Lawrence–Eastern Lake Ontario Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (SLELO PRISM) is one of eight PRISMs that span the state of New York. The PRISM network stemmed from recommendations from the NYS Invasive Species Task Force in 2005 and became fully established in 2014. PRISMs are funded by the NYS Environmental Protection fund in coordination with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and various partners. PRISMs have made tremendous progress towards preventing the introduction and spread of invasive species and mitigating the impacts of existing invasive species within the state.

SLELO PRISM is hosted by The Nature Conservancy and was formally recognized by NYS in 2011. Their mission is to protect native habitats, biodiversity, natural areas, and freshwater resources, utilizing a collaborative and integrated approach to invasive species management with an emphasis on prevention, early detection, rapid response, education, and outreach.

The work that they do provides region-wide coordination for invasive species monitoring and management across the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems within a 7,600-square mile PRISM region – which encompasses the counties of St. Lawrence, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, and Oswego outside of the Adirondack Park, as well as, portions of the Lake Ontario watershed and shoreline, and the Oneida Lake northern watershed.

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Megan Pistolese
Education Outreach Coordinator

All Photos courtesy of Slelo Prism.
posted at: 2023-05-08 12:50:00, last updated: 2023-06-12 15:41:38

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