Aquatic Invasive Species River Steward for Central Champlain Region of NY
Ausable River Association (2014). Aquatic Invasive Species River Steward for Central Champlain Region of NY (Final Report). Grand Isle, VT: Lake Champlain Basin Program.
Aquatic invasive species (AIS) that affect rivers are fast encroaching on the Champlain Basin. The Ausable River, known worldwide for its trout fishery and spectacular scenery, cannot afford the ecosystem-changing invasions of AIS whether it is a invasive invader like didymo, or non-native invasives like New Zealand mud snail, rusty crayfish, or fish disease. Ecologically, the Ausable system, while still capable of supporting significant recreational use, is stressed. The introduction of AIS or the proliferation of species that have already gained a foothold, further challenges water quality, habitat diversity, and nutrient processing. Economically, the Ausable River attracts $2.3 million dollars in national and international fishing tourism to the region annually and supports four fly shops and
numerous private guides. Indeed, a tourism survey conducted annually by the Essex County Visitors Bureau shows that anglers make up eighteen percent (18%) of the visiting public. The introduction of an invasive species that threatens the world renowned Ausable trout fishery would have a devastating impact on local tourism. Experts agree that the most cost effective method of dealing with AIS is to invest in spread prevention through public outreach and education. In 2014, the Ausable River Association (AsRA), with funding from LCBP through NEIWPCC,
continued a program to hire, train, and deploy an aquatic invasive species river steward on the Ausable River in New York State’s central Champlain region. A similar, highly successful spread prevention project was implemented in summer 2010, 2011, and 2012 (the latter with funding from The Nature Conservancy). The purpose of this continuing project is to
protect the Ausable River – with its 94 miles of river channel that is, at present, relatively uninvaded – from spreading aquatic invasive species. The river steward provides a “safety net” around the Ausable region of New York by distributing the spread prevention message locally and regionally and by maintaining wader washing stations in the watershed. The river steward also educates the general public, visitor bureau staff, local fly shops staff and customers, hotel owners, and anglers/river users by sharing the “Check, Clean, Dry” AIS spread prevention message. Educational brochures, cleaning station materials, and streamside signage are distributed. Results are measured in number of anglers, river users,
general public, fly shop and visitor bureau staff engaged and educated as well as in fly shops and visitors bureaus visited regularly, and brochures distributed and signs posted. In each year thus far a survey of angler/river user AIS knowledge, river use and spread prevention effort is administered. Data from the survey is compiled for use in AsRA’s
organizational planning and to inform our partners of results through this report. Note: data are included in final report.