To determine the extent of implementation of the four recommendations included in our initial audit report, Management of Invasive Species (Report 2019-S-26).
About the Program
Many species of plants and animals currently found in New York State are not indigenous, but rather have been introduced by humans. Subsets of these species may cause habitat degradation, loss of native species, risks to public safety, human illness, or damage to crops and livestock, and are deemed "invasive." In New York, invasive species management is a collaborative effort between the Department of Environmental Conservation (Department) and various other agencies and entities. However, as the State’s environmental regulatory agency, oversight responsibilities generally rest with the Department. Invasive species are generally classified as aquatic invasive species (AIS) or terrestrial invasive species (TIS). AIS are commonly spread via fishing and boating activities. The Department is authorized to enact AIS preventive measures, including public education (e.g., boat steward education/inspection programs, warning signage at public boat launches), and is responsible for implementing and maintaining a statewide, coordinated management program, including a permit system to control activities (e.g., dredging, mining, construction) that could inadvertently spread AIS or TIS. The Department also performs assessments to categorize and quantify the "invasiveness" of non-native species and their social and economic implications.
Our initial audit report, covering the period from April 1, 2017 through November 22, 2019, was issued on July 23, 2020. The audit sought to determine whether the Department was effectively managing invasive species to prevent and mitigate the harmful effects of invasive species populations in New York State. The audit found that, while the Department had been active in establishing programs to address invasive species, improvements in its oversight, monitoring, and communication relating to boat inspections, permits, and early detection and assessment of invasive species could strengthen its ability to mitigate the spread of invasive species. For example, the Department did not consistently apply or monitor its permit system to control activities, such as mining, dredging, and construction, that can trigger invasive species. Additionally, assessments of non-native species were not always completed or were missing information. Because of these and other weaknesses, we concluded that the Department needed to improve its oversight by developing a process to ensure consistency and compliance with signage and other requirements, as well as develop policies, procedures, or guidance on issuing permits and monitoring compliance relating to invasive species.
Department officials have made progress in addressing the problems we identified in the initial audit report. However, additional improvements are still needed. Of the initial report’s four audit recommendations, two were fully implemented and two were partially implemented.
Officials are given 30 days after the issuance of this follow-up to provide information on any actions that are planned to address the unresolved issues discussed in the report.
State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Nadine Morrell
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email: [email protected]
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236