Gillibrand visits Paul Smith’s to push new invasives law

Randal Swanson, center, instructs Paul Smith’s College students in the treatment of Emerald Ash Borers on a tree at the campus. Swanson said over the last decade, treatment of invasive species has become a larger part of the curriculum for forestry and tree management students.
(Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

Randal Swanson, center, instructs Paul Smith’s College students in the treatment of Emerald Ash Borers on a tree at the campus. Swanson said over the last decade, treatment of invasive species has become a larger part of the curriculum for forestry and tree management students. (Enterprise photo — Justin A. Levine)

PAUL SMITHS — New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited Paul Smith’s College on Monday to announce a new law that she hopes will pass with bipartisan support.

Gillibrand, along with several environmental leaders, talked about the need to adopt the Invasive Fish and Wildlife Prevention Act, which would broaden the definition of “Injurious Wildlife” to cover invertebrates such as the Emerald Ash Borer.

The bill would give the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service more power to regulate non-native species, and would add accountability for importers who bring in invasive species.

“The first line of defense in controlling invasive species is to prevent their entry in the first place,” Paul Smith’s College Dean of Forestry Brett McLeod said. “Paul Smith’s College is pleased to support this effort to prevent the entry of both forest and aquatic pests.”

In addition to greater enforcement capabilities, the bill would establish an injurious species list and grant the USFWS powers to make emergency designations of species that cannot enter the country.

“Species like the Emerald Ash Borer are too often being discovered in New York’s forests and waterways,” Gillibrand said. “They’re in our water supply, on our trees, they hurt our food industry and ultimately can have a very harmful affect on human health.

“We need to do more to prevent harmful invasive species from coming into New York from overseas.”

She said the new law is a much needed update to current regulations.

“Right now, invasive species are regulated by an outdated, 117-year-old law that gives the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service very limited powers to regulate non-native plants and animals,” she said. “It’s very difficult under this law to ban them from being imported or to block interstate sales of species that could cause harm.

“But there are many species of wildlife, including the Emerald Ash Borer, that are harming our state but still aren’t included under that law.”

Gillibrand is confidant that the bill can make it through Congress without much push back from the other side of the aisle.

“The good news is that a lot of people in Congress, particularly in the Senate, work well on a bipartisan basis,” Gillibrand said. “There are many Republican senators I plan to work with on this.

“This is the kind of bill … Something that doesn’t have to go through the whole process because there’s really no objection to it. It’s really common sense it should be able to go through unanimously.”

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