With AIS and climate change impacting the future of the Great Lakes, there is an opportunity to enhance a more diverse and resilient native ecosystem in the Eastern Lake Ontario region. Today, there are strict laws in place for ballast water dumping, transporting invasive species knowingly and extensive efforts underway to educate recreational boaters on preventing the spread of AIS to un-infested waters through the NYS Watercraft Inspection Steward Program, which teaches boaters to “Clean, Drain, Dry” their equipment. These efforts are important but without innovative and restorative plans being implemented, unintended negative anthropogenic impacts will continue to destabilize this system.
As a result, we are developing SLELO PRISMs new Aquatic Restoration Initiative for 2020-2023. The first phase of this initiative will begin with our “Aquatic and Riparian Invasive Species Inventory and Habitat Assessment.” The assessment will focus on select areas that may be impacted by aquatic and riparian invasive species and determine the presence of species such as; non-native crayfish, gobies, and mussels; macrophytes such as fanwort, water hyacynth, and hydrilla; and near shore plant species, like Japanese knotweed, common reed, and oriental bittersweet. The results of the assessment will identify the most deserving areas in need of eradication, suppression, restoration, or management, and serve as the foundation for this project. The upcoming years may include additional management and restoration work as/if recommended in the results of this assessment, followed by intensive monitoring to preserve the habitat. To scale-up this initiative, this work will focus on building partnerships with organizations within NYS and the Great Lakes Region and information will be disseminated to any interested parties through outreach and educational resources.