ALBANY — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has issued a $2,500 penalty to Tennessee Wholesale Nursery, LLC, Tammy Sons and Dennis Sons for transporting infested hemlock seedlings to Oswego and Schenectady counties.
Announced Monday, the agency filed a final Order of Consent against the company for violating state invasive species regulations. The nursery shipped eastern hemlock seedlings infested with hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA), a prohibited invasive species, from Tennessee to the upstate counties.
The terms of the order mandate that the nursery provide the DEC with monthly nursery stock orders for all of New York through 2020.
If the company does not abide the order, it will be barred from doing business in the state.
“DEC is committed to vigorously enforcing New York's comprehensive environmental rules and regulations to protect our environment and our economy," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Prevention is the most cost-effective and efficient way to manage invasive species and limit the spread of these pests. It's imperative that nurseries have a thorough inspection process for all materials that leave their facilities and be held accountable when and if they fail to do so."
Adopted in July 2014, New York's Part 575 Invasive Species Regulation regulates — and in some cases prohibits — the possession, transport, importation, sale, purchase, and introduction of select invasive species.
The DEC defines invasive species as non-native plants, animals and diseases that harm or can cause harm to the environment, the economy and human health. The agency says Part 575 assists in the reduction of the spread and introduction of new and existing invasive populations.
“HWA is a tiny insect from Asia that attacks North American hemlock trees,” said DEC officials in a statement. “Damage from the insect has led to widespread hemlock mortality throughout the Appalachian Mountains and the southern Catskills with considerable ecological damage, as well as economic and aesthetic losses. HWA infestations can be most noticeably detected by the small, white, woolly masses produced by the insects attached to the underside of the twig, near the base of the needles.”