PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will hold a virtual informational workshop next week on draft regulations to limit the sale of freshwater invasive plants.
Aquatic invasive plants are a widespread problem in Rhode Island's freshwater lakes. More than 100 lakes, and an additional 27 river segments, are plagued with at least one species of invasive plant. Aquatic invasive species pose threats to healthy ecosystems, decrease recreational opportunities and tourism, and cause economic impacts.
Aggressive invasive plants disrupt the balance of native plants and animals, cause significant habitat loss, and reduce water quality. To prevent the further introduction of such invasive species to new areas through plant trade in Rhode Island, DEM has developed draft regulations to address this ongoing problem and restrict the movement and sale of invasive plants and seeds.
The upcoming informational session is targeted to industry professionals, consumers, environmental advocates and other interested parties. During the workshop DEM will present the proposed list of prohibited plants along with details on the draft regulations. Staff from DEM's Office of Water Resources and Division of Fish and Wildlife will be participating in the workshop and available for questions and discussion.
What: Workshop to Discuss Draft Regulations to Limit Sale of Freshwater Invasive Aquatic Plants in Rhode Island
When: Monday, March 15, 2021 | 10:00 AM Eastern Time
How: Join Zoom Meeting: https://tnc.zoom.us/j/92336656741 Meeting ID: 923 3665 6741
Extensive weed beds can make boating, swimming and fishing unpleasant and can affect local tourism and businesses when recreational opportunities are reduced. The high costs for annual plant management efforts, reduced values of private and public waterfront properties, and loss of tax revenues are significant consequences of the introduction and spread of non-native plant species.
Preventing the introduction of invasive plants into the environment is often the most cost-effective, efficient, and environmentally advantageous strategy to manage invasive plant populations. Research indicates that the sale of non-native plants is a major pathway for harmful invasive species to spread into the environment when plants unintentionally escape cultivation. The federal government already restricts movement and cultivation of aquatic, parasitic and terrestrial plant taxa through the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service by placing certain species on the Federal Noxious Weed List.
The proposed regulations would supplement 2020 amended fishing regulations that prevent the transport of invasive plants on any type of boat, motor, trailer, fishing supplies or gear, and are aligned with existing federal and state regulations in New England to increase regional regulatory consistency for people or businesses that import, transport, disperse, sell or distribute aquatic plants. The draft regulations propose a list of plants prohibited from importation, transportation, dispersion, distribution, purchase, sale and possession, with exemptions for research and educational activities; this list was compiled from the Federal Noxious Weed List and adjoining New England state lists and builds on previous work of the RI Invasive Species Council and the RI Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan.
The list was compiled collaboratively to support a more regionalized approach to regulating invasive plants in order to strengthen local water resource protection and simplify directives to the ornamental plant industry. Some familiar plants are included on the Rhode Island list in order to prevent their further spread or introduction to the state's freshwaters. The expanded list includes plants utilized in the pet and aquarium trade, the landscape and horticulture trades, and at least one plant utilized in aquaculture.
Interested parties can view the draft regulations online at http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/water/quality/surface-water/aquatic-invasive-species.php
For more information about the workshop or draft regulations, contact Christine Dudley, Deputy Chief of DEM's Division of Fish & Wildlife via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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