Watercraft inspection involves inspecting boats and recreational equipment that may hold water, removing all plants, animals, and mud, and draining any water. Invasive species in the water can cause harm to humans and the environment. Furthermore, these invasive species can disrupt recreational opportunities and hurt the economic bottom line. Unfortunately, many waterborne invasive species are spread through recreational boating.
The Watercraft Inspection Steward Program Application (WISPA) was developed to coordinate real-time data being collected from stewards at launches across NY and store it in a single online database. Multiple partner organizations are currently participating in this program.
Brief History of Data Collection
Watercraft inspection programs have existed in New York since as early as 2000 in the Adirondack region, at Upper St. Regis Lake and St. Regis Mountain through the Paul Smith’s College and Adirondack Watershed Institute. This program, along with others, has since expanded to cover a majority of the launches throughout the Adirondack Park.
In 2012, New York Sea Grant began working with staff from the New York Natural Heritage Program (NYNHP), who host iMapInvasives, NY’s invasive species database, to create a survey tool using Open Data Kit (ODK) to collect data using electronic devices. By 2014, New York State Parks also began working with NYNHP using the ODK system. The Adirondack Watershed Institute and Finger Lakes Institute were both using their own electronic software which could not be easily joined together for statewide analyses. Multiple programs recognized that there was still a gap in statewide participation and analyses, and teamed together to determine the next step or initiative. This would help improve tracking the spread of aquatic hitchhikers around New York State as a whole.
The initiative started by these partners resulted in the successful pilot program for 2017 using ArcGIS Survey 123 software. For more information or to join the statewide initiative using Survey 123 for data collection, visit http://www.nyimapinvasives.org/wispa.