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County Targets "Invasive" Exotic Plants

Bill targets exotic plants sold through pet stores and nurseries.

Nassau County is literally trying to weed out unwanted plants and other flora.  The County will begin educating the public about "invasive species" of pervasive plants that rapidly spread and are often difficult to eradicate. 

"It was starting to cost a lot of money – we're talking million of dollars," Alpa Pandya of the Nature Conservancy of Long Island said at a meeting of the County Legislature Monday, describing how County crews would spend their time pulling up one species from a location while another made inroads onto properties.

In 2007 the County passed a "do not sell" list that describes such invasive plants.

Sponsored by Legislator Norma Gonsalves, R-East Meadow, the legislation has as its major strategy efforts to reduce new invasions rather than spending time constantly pulling out such invasive plants already in the ground. "The plan was to have it be as low tech as possible," Pandya said. County crews will continue efforts to uproot invasive plants.

The legislation targets pet stores and nurseries who stock exotic and plants which are not native to Long Island, which consumers often use as decorative features in their homes, gardens, and ponds. "Every one of these species has a phase-out date," Pandya said, so as to to give retailers enough time to clear their inventory. "The public education part is the hardest part of this."

Nassau County's department of consumer affairs will be in charge of the effort but would go into action only after a complaint is filed.  The invasive species list has both the plants' common and Latin name and is available on the department's website.  "We have to educate the pet stores and nurseries," Legislator David Denenberg, D-Merrick, said.

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