Where have the invasives gone?


By Gwendolyn Temple, WNY Steward

I’ve been noticing lately that hardly any of the boats that have come in from either Big Six Mile Creek or Fort Niagara have aquatic invasive species on them anymore, when weeks ago, they were absolutely covered in both Eurasian watermilfoil and curly leaf pondweed. Curious to know why I haven’t been seeing them recently, I decided to do a bit of research.

Now, typically, Eurasian watermilfoil will flower around, according to the State of Washington Department of Ecology, “mid to late July”, and then die back after the flowers have surfaced.[1]


Figure 1: Eurasian watermilfoil, an aquatic invasive plant species that often chokes out motors during its peak growing season. Credit: Luke Burns


Once they die back, if they haven’t flowered too early, they lie dormant until the next season.[2] As they can survive rather well under ice, it appears as if they can tolerate far lower temperatures than many native aquatic plants can.[3] However, there is no research that I have found that suggests what sort of higher temperatures this plant can sustain itself in.

Currently in the upper Niagara River, where Big Six Mile Creek is located, it is about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, I cannot fully determine whether it is the warmer temperature this plant is dying back as a result of its growth season. Before the typical season for this particular aquatic invasive started, I saw it coming off boats around early July. So, I would assume that another burst of the plant’s growth should be seen around now. Yet, I have not found any since late July.

Curlyleaf pondweed, on the other hand, ended a bit earlier at both launches. This aquatic invasive’s growing season is in the winter and it grows to become a problem in non-native water bodies around early summer.[4] Then, it dies back until the next major growing season.[5]

curly leaf

Figure 2: Curlyleaf pondweed, as seen growing out of control in a water body. Credit: Christian Fischer

In terms of temperature, when the water drops below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant begins to sprout itself again.[6] As such, it is possible that the reason it has not been seen near Big Six Mile Creek since mid-July is a result of the 80-degree temperature noted in the Upper Niagara River. Of course, I did note that curlyleaf pondweed was being taken off of boats at Fort Niagara a week or two following a lack of it on boats at Big Six Mile Creek. This could be a result of the lower Niagara River being colder than the Upper Niagara due to its proximity to Lake Ontario, which, given the location of my launch, makes perfect sense.

In any case, it seemed rather odd to me to not be picking off invasives from boats in these areas anymore, despite these species being the most pronounced at both launches this season.

Have any of you other stewards been experiencing die-offs of the aquatic invasive species you used to frequently handle? If so, what could be the possible causes for it? I’m very curious to know!

[1] “Non-native Invasive Freshwater Plants: Eurasian Watermilfoil.” State of Washington Department of Ecology. State of Washington Department of Ecology, n.d. Web. 20 Aug. 2016. <http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/plants/weeds/aqua004.html&gt;.

[2]  “Non-native Invasive Freshwater Plants: Eurasian Watermilfoil.” State of Washington Department of Ecology. State of Washington Department of Ecology, n.d. Web. 20 Aug. 2016. <http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/plants/weeds/aqua004.html&gt;.

[3] “Non-native Invasive Freshwater Plants: Eurasian Watermilfoil.” State of Washington Department of Ecology. State of Washington Department of Ecology, n.d. Web. 20 Aug. 2016. <http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/plants/weeds/aqua004.html&gt;.

[4] “Curlyleaf Pondweed.” Aquatic Invasive Species (n.d.): n. pag. Apr. 2009. Web. 20 Aug. 2016. <http://www.in.gov/dnr/files/CURLYLEAF_PONDWEED.pdf&gt;.

[5] “Curlyleaf Pondweed.” Aquatic Invasive Species (n.d.): n. pag. Apr. 2009. Web. 20 Aug. 2016. <http://www.in.gov/dnr/files/CURLYLEAF_PONDWEED.pdf&gt;.

[6] Poovey, Angela. “Curlyleaf Pondweed (Potamogeton Crispus L.).” State of Washington Department of Ecology, 2008. Web. <http://depts.washington.edu/oldenlab/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Potamogeton-crispus_Poovey.pdf&gt;.


Figure 1: Burns, Luke. 2015 Lake Tahoe Summit. Digital image. Flickr. N.p., 24 Aug. 2015. Web. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/usacehq/21221263823/in/photolist-dWPLDB-p8VkjW-paVntQ-paXukz-3iwope-paXnqc-8xBUm6-deC2jJ-ykfwp2&gt;.

Figure 2: Fischer, Christian. Potamogeton Crispus. Digital image. Wikimedia Commons. N.p., 21 Aug. 2008. Web. <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:PotamogetonCrispus.jpg&gt;.



Paddles Up at Beaver Island

by Gwendolyn Temple, WNY Steward

Paddles Up at Beaver Island, held on Saturday, July 30th, was an event dedicated to getting kayakers out exploring the local landscape around their community.

The day began with an early morning ecotour, designed to get people out during the post-dawn hours of the morning when wildlife appears most active. Then, paddlers were brought back in to set up for the larger paddling event. During their break, they could indulge in some breakfast or look at the vendors that had been set up during their time out on the water. These vendors included RiverKeeper, Wear It, New York!, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, WEKANU, Flying Bison, and many more.

Holly and I had set up our table next to the Wear It, New York! display, and as such, received much of their foot traffic. Many people were genuinely interested in our cause to prevent aquatic invasive species from getting into New York State waterways. As such, we found that our pamphlets had to be refilled a number of times during the course of the event. To see that many kayakers become enthusiastic about our cause was very uplifting. Of course, many of the patrons did stop by to give a look at our free merchandise, but were very happy to engage us in conversation about our positions with the Parks office and our AIS spread prevention at local boat launches.

paddles up

Gwen and Holly setting showing off some invasive species handouts

Before lunch, a raffle was held for kayaking and camping related items, then the main paddling event began. Hundreds of kayaks launched out into the Niagara River to paddle together and, as stated by many return patrons, this was the largest turn-out they had seen thus far. Many of the patrons hope that the event continues to grow larger and larger every year as it is not only good for kayakers as a networking experience, but also brings a lot of people from outside the area into their local parks.

Around lunchtime, a number of food trucks began to show up, including Cheesy Chick, a grilled cheese truck, Dirty Bird, a chicken and waffles food truck, and House of Munch, a truck that specialized in state fair food. Other tent vendors set up to sell food as well, such as the shish kebab tent that experienced a large gathering of patrons. When kayakers were thoroughly exhausted from paddling, they came in and sat down at the tables inside our main pavilion with the vendors to eat what they had bought. This was a good bonding experience, as many patrons enjoyed simply chatting with us about the event and how it could be improved for the next year. These suggestions included having more advertisements for the event in the weeks leading up to the paddle, spreading the event through word of mouth from people who participated, and having more press releases about the paddle after the event.

As the event settled down, many people began to make their way home just as the park was beginning to note its typical bustling clientele. All in all, the event was incredibly fun and exciting. The public was very responsive to our cause, which is sometimes not seen at our typical boat launches. I would highly recommend participating in a Paddles Up event either as a patron or a vendor if anyone ever has the chance.

Too Hot to Fish?

Jared Reed – Saratoga Lake Steward


With the recent heat, many fishermen have been complaining that the water is too warm for the fish to bite. That’s simply not true – fish require food regardless of the temperature, but the water temperature does dictate where fish look for food. Fish are (for the most part) cold blooded, and rely on their surrounding environment to regulate their body temperature, so when the water gets too warm, fish take to the deeper, cooler waters.

While more prevalent in the ocean, and in very deep lakes, shallower lakes can also exhibit dynamic changes in the water column when the air temperature gets warm. In ‘clean’ clear lakes, sunlight can penetrate up to 10 meters (about 30 feet), and this results in the top layer of water becoming very warm. Warm water is also less dense than cold water, which results in a very stratified water column. This ‘layer’ is defined by a ‘thermocline’ (an area with a steep temperature gradient) and a ‘pycnocline’ (an area in a body of water where the density rapidly changes), and in saltwater, there is also a ‘halocline’ which pertains to salinity. This stratification is most prominent in the summer when the air temperature and increased amount of sunlight heat up the water. In the winter the cold air keeps the top layer of water close enough in temperature to the bottom for the thermos- and pycnoclines to be nonexistent.

The different properties of these layers in the water column prevent the water from mixing, and can result in an uneven distribution of nutrients (including oxygen) throughout the waterbody. An extended restriction of oxygen flow can have major implications, such as hypoxia, fish kills, and can be a contributing factor for HABs (harmful algal blooms).

This stratification is naturally occurring, and there’s little that humans can do to prevent it, or undue it. Violent storms and sustained strong winds can disrupt lakes enough to cause temporary relief from the stratification, but the water will quickly settle.

Check out the attached graph to better understand this stratification!
For more information, check out:


Why are the States Abbreviated like that?

By Jared Reed – Saratoga Lake Steward


Living in the Northeast, it’s common to encounter boaters from neighboring states. It’s only a few hours drive to Saratoga Lake from New Jersey or New Hampshire, and a little more than an hour from parts of Massachusetts and Vermont. I didn’t think much about inter-state boat traffic, until a couple boats from Massachusetts caught me off guard.

I noticed that the boat registration started with the letters “MS” and immediately thought that the boat was registered in Mississippi, even though the car and trailer both had Massachusetts plates. After completing my inspection, I asked the boater if the boat was registered in Massachusetts, and if so why the abbreviation was “MS”, which is normally reserved for Mississippi. He double checked his paperwork and confirmed that it was in fact registered in Massachusetts… but he, nor any of the other Bay State boaters I saw that day knew why the registrations were different.

After some research I discovered that Massachusetts, is one of 11 states where the abbreviations on watercraft registrations differ than ones traditionally used. This discretion actually results from a discrepancy between the United States Coast Guard and the United States Postal Service. The USCG abbreviations predate those used by USPS, but in 1969 the USPS created their own 2 letter abbreviation system, intending to help process mail with easier character recognition. They also changed some state abbreviations to avoid conflict with Canadian provinces, such as using NE for Nebraska, instead of NB, which is used to identify the Canadian Province of New Brunswick.  Other abbreviations were altered from the USCG list of unknown reasons.

Here are the eleven states whose USCG and USPS abbreviations are different:

  California  Colorado  Delaware  Hawaii  Kansas  Massachusetts  Mississippi  Michigan  Nebraska  Washington  Wisconsin
USCG       CF    CL    DL    HA    KA       MS    MI    MC    NB    WN WS
USPS       CA    CO    DE    HI    KS       MA    MS    MI    NE    WA WI


Research yielded minimal factual reasoning as to why there are so many differences (excluding the Nebraska/New Brunswick differentiation), but several anecdotal explanations were found in chat rooms and on discussion boards, voicing that the two federal agencies did not communicate well with each other.

Whatever the actual reasoning may be, it is useful to know that watercraft registrations do not use the same abbreviations as terrestrial motor vehicles.


For More Information, check out these sources:


Boater’s Pocket Reference: Your Comprehensive Resource for Boats and Boating by Thomas McEwen


Water Chestnut Facts and Control Methods

By David Newell, North-Eastern Lake Ontario Steward


Water Chestnut (Trapa natans) is an aquatic invasive plant species to the U.S. It is currently found in the states of New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rode Island. Water Chestnut is native to Europe, Africa, and Asia; it was brought into the U.S. sometime in the 1800s as a water garden plant, and it eventually escaped, thus has become an invasive species in many of the states listed above. It spreads by producing thorny seeds (nutlets) that can stick themselves to watercraft, the fur of mammals, or the feathers of birds. Unlike most of invasive plant species water chestnut cannot reproduce by fragmentation of the plant, only by seeds. Water Chestnut looks very different from other aquatic plant species. Water Chestnut is a submerged plant with floating leaves that have toothed margins and are triangular in shape with a waxy coating on top and hairy underside of the leaf.

Water Chestnut negatively effects the ecosystem and water recreation by forming “dense floating mats and out competes native plant communities. Its decay can deplete oxygen levels, leading to fish being killed. Dense growths can interfere with swimming and entangle propellers, which hinders boating, fishing, and waterfowl hunting.” (Water Chestnut, Minnesota Sea Grant).  This is why Water Chestnut should not be transported to other ecosystems, and why management practices for the plant are crucial. Water Chestnut starts to fruit in July when a white flower appears on the surface of the water. The fruiting bodies creates the nutlets that have four thorny points to it and eventually drop to the bottom of the water way. The nutlets can be hazardous to people and animals due to the four thorny points. Water Chestnut can rapidly reproduce and spread due to its seeds. One single Water Chestnut can produce 25 seeds. This allows Water Chestnut to rapidly take over a water way.

The four control methods for Water Chestnut is hand pulling, mechanical harvesting, chemical, and biological. The hand pulling method works well with small population of Water chestnut, the roots are shallow this means the plant is easy to pull out of the water. However; Water Chestnut is an annual plant species thus it is critical that you try and get the nutlets out of the water when you pull the plant up. The hand pulling method eliminates accidentally pulling native plants. They are normally attached to the plant but can fall off easily. Here’s Cayuga County’s guidelines for hand pulling Water Chestnut “Pull before seeds mature in mid-August, pull as much of the plant as possible, start at the edge of the infestation and work your way in. dispose of plant by composting on land or in the trash, coordinate hand pulling with mechanical harvesting, especially where large infestations exist, protect your toes” (Water Chestnut Control, W2O!). This method is very labor intensive. The next method is mechanical harvesting which works well for large areas of infestations, mechanical harvesting works by cutting and removing the plant from the water way. In order to be effective the harvester must harvest before the seeds drop into the water. A downside to the harvester is it can also harvest native plants along with the invasive ones, and possible injure or kill the aquatic life. This method is still very labor intensive and expensive, also leaves large amount of disposed plant material on land.

The chemical treatment is the use of herbicides for large infestation of Water Chestnut, the herbicides must be applied before the seeds drop, the downside to this method is it can have a negative impact of native aquatic life, and the treatment only works for current year’s growth, the herbicide cannot penetrate the seeds shell. This means that each year you need to come back with an herbicide and treat the Water Chestnut until the seed bank is diminished. “In New York State, chemical applications require a permit and must be done by a certified pesticide applicator” (Water Chestnut Control, W2O!). The last method is biological control; biological control requires that the invasive species is reunited with its predator species. This requires research to be done to determine if the predator species will only target the invasive species and not the native species that are beneficial to the environment. There is currently research being done by Cornell University on the biological control for Water Chestnut.

What can you do to help the control the spread of water chestnut?

Clean, Drain, and Dry your watercraft and gear.


Works Citied:

“Water Chestnut.” Minnesota Sea Grant. Sea Grant, 4 May 2016. Web. 5 June 2016. <http://www.seagrant.umn.edu/ais/waterchestnut&gt;.

“Water Chestnut Control.” W2O! Cayuga County, n.d. Web. 5 June 2016. <http://www.cayugacounty.us/portals/0/wqma/weedswatchout/controlwc.htm&gt;.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat (Swiftly Down the Stream)

by Jared Reed, Saratoga Lake Boat Steward

The Saratoga State Boat Launch has a new neighbor. Sharing the launch’s driveway is the Saratoga Rowing Association’s Regatta and Training Center. The Saratoga Rowing Association has a prominent presence on Saratoga Lake, particularly, on Fish Creek – the northerly ‘drain’ for the lake. Standing at the launch, looking northward up Fish Creek, you can make out several lanes, used for regattas and rowing races, and early in the day, you can even catch some of the rowing practices, as the crew teams row their boat as fast as they can up the stream. (It remains unclear as to whether or not the crew maintains a merrily demeanor while rowing.)

Rowing is an ancient sport, and arguable the first method of mass transport. Rowing vessels can be dated back to almost 4,000 years ago, to the earliest days of civilization. Such vessels were used to transport goods and people between ports. The earliest proof of competitive rowing comes from the funeral markings of the Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep II, from 1430 BC, depicting the pharaoh defeating other nobles in a rowing race. The Greek Orator Virgil also told of a rowing competition as part of the funerary games, honoring the death of the mythic Greek hero Aeneas.

Rowing continued to be practiced throughout the Roman Empire, and Europe’s Dark Ages, but competitive rowing saw its revival during the Middle Ages in the port city of Venice, known for its streets of water. Competitive Rowing was revived during the fourteenth century, during a Carnevale celebration (comparable to Mardi Gras, Carnevale ends with the beginning of Lent in the Christian faith). The first races at Carnevale involved individuals and teams of rowers racing through the canals of Venice. Competitive rowing made its way through Europe, and the first modern regatta happened in England around 1454, where guilds sponsored boats and racers in “Lord Mayor’s Water Procession”.  “Doggett’s Coat and Badge” race, which is the oldest continuously held regatta, started in 1715, and races from London Bridge to Chelsea Harbor.

The 1700s brought about a new ‘wave’ of crew teams, as the sport was introduced into the American Colonies. The first recorded American regatta happened in New York City around 1756, and the sport gained popularity among college student with Oxford University currently boasting the oldest standing crew team, being founded in 1815, and a notable rivalry with Cambridge University starting in 1832. The sports popularity among college students carried over to the states, and the gained a lot of attention when Yale challenged Harvard to a race in 1852. Rowing has since remained a staple sport on many college campuses.

Rowing became an Olympic Sport at the second modern Olympic games in 1900 in Paris, France, leading to the founding of the International Rowing Association in 1903 (later joined with the NCAA). Rowing was once the most popular collegiate sport, even dominating over football, but there has been a sharp decline of public interest in rowing over the last hundred years.

In the Olympic Games, the rowing events occur in local rivers and waterbodies- in Rio you can expect to watch the teams row in the scenic Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas.


For more information:
Olympic Rowing (Rio)







Saratoga Rowing: