Aquatic Weed Harvesters

 

by Jared Reed, Saratoga Lake Boat Steward

 

Much like tending to weeds in your lawn, one way to combat invasive plants in lakes and waterways is by mowing them. Pictured above is an aquatic weed harvester that was recently seen in Saratoga Lake. The harvester spent several days along the shoreline, reaping Eurasian watermilfoil and Curly-leaf pondweed, two prominent AIS in Saratoga lake. Aquatic weed harvesters are interesting machines, and it is rare to get a close up look at how they work.

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Aquatic weed harvester mowing Eurasian watermilfoil and curley-leaf pondweed at Saratoga Lake Boat Launch. Photo: Jared Reed, NYS OPRHP

The front of the harvester is a conveyer-belt ramp, the bottom of which one horizontal cutter bar and 2 vertical cutter bars. This ramp can be raised or lowered, depending on depth. Once a plant is cut, it falls onto the conveyer belt and is dumped into a holding well on the ship. The paddle wheels on each side of the barge function as propulsion, and move the vessel, allowing for movement in shallow waters without worrying about weed entanglement. Back at the docking station, the harvested weeds are disposed of.

Aquatic weed harvesters are an imperfect science for they do produce plant fragments, which can help spread certain species (i.e.,  Hydrilla and Eurasian Watermilfoil) if not managed properly. Harvesters still can play an important role in the management of aquatic weeds in shallow water. It is advisable to keep a wide berth if you encounter one of these while boating.

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Parrot Feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)

 

 

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Photo: Andre Karwath (commons.wikipedia.org)

By David Newell, North-Eastern Lake Ontario Steward

Introduction:

Parrot feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum), also called Brazilian watermilfoil is an invasive aquatic plant in lakes, ponds, and streams throughout New York State. Parrot feather is a close relative to the more aggressive invasive species Eurasian watermilfoil and sometimes gets mistaken for Eurasian watermilfoil. Parrot feather is native to most of South America. Parrot feather was brought into the United States in the 1800s by the aquarium industry, it’s a very popular indoor and outdoor aquatic garden plant. Parrot feather got into the local waterways by escaping from its outdoor ponds or being spread by aquarium owners when they dump their aquarium and all of its contents into a waterway. Once in the waterway it can spread rapidly and take over.

Species Description:

Parrot feather gets its name for the very bright green leaves that look like a feathers, the leaves are arranged around the stem in whorls of four to six leaves per whorl. Parrot feather can have both submersed and emergent leaves. The submersed leaves are commonly mistaken for Eurasian watermilfoil. The submersed leaves are a less dark green and less stiff than the emergent leaves. The emergent stem and leaves resemble a parrot feather tail hence the name parrot feather. The emergent stems can grow up to a foot out of the water and extend out several yards over the water’s surface. The submersed leaves on the other hand are usually limp and appear as if they are decayed. The flowers are inconspicuous and are found on the emergent section of the plant. The flowers are white and only 1/16th of an inch long.

How Parrot feather spreads and its preferred habitat:

Only female Parrot feather plants are known to occur in the United States, therefore typical plant reproduction does not occur with the parrot feather. Thus the only way for new plants to grow is by plant fragmentation. The fragmented bits of plant material can create new plants. This means that boat propellers going through patches of Parrot feather can increase the patch size and their spread. The plant can also spread by flooding, fragments stuck on birds, watercraft, and plant fragment floating downstream. Parrot feather prefer shallow slow-moving nutrient rich water. It is common in shallow water as a rooted plant.

Ecological and economic impact:

Parrot feather offers some cover for aquatic organisms, but offers little food value for wildlife, and alerts the aquatic environment. The dense patches of Parrot feather shade out native plants and algae which serves as aquatic food. After the dense patches of Parrot feather dies off, there decompose and can create a low oxygen conditions which can harm aquatic organisms. The large vegetation mats that Parrot feather forms can cause economic impact as well. The mats make it difficult to navigate and are restricting to recreational activates such like boating, fishing, and swimming. Parrot feather can also decrease aesthetic value, thus decreasing property values.

Control Methods:

With chemical control of Parrot feather there has been some success but it is difficult to achieve complete control. Repeated chemical treatments are needed to produce some type of success. Many herbicides have been tried on Parrot feather, but one go to herbicide hasn’t been found yet. A wetting agent is required to penetrate the waxy emergent leaves. It is more effective when applied to young plants. There has been no biological control found yet for Parrot feather but there are some that are being looked into such as the use of beetles or other insect species. Mechanical control is to not be used unless it is needed to break up the dense mates to let sunlight enter waterway. This is because mechanical harvesting create plant fragmentation, and thus makes the infestation worse than it already was.

What can you do:

Always make sure to clean off your boat, trailer, equipment from hanging plant material, this will help stop with the spreading of Parrot feather. Make sure to always drain the bilge or live wells, along with any compartment on that has water in it. Lastly make sure dry the watercraft, and any equipment that was used before entering a new waterway.

Remember to always Clean, Drain, Dry

 

Sources:

“Non-native Invasive Freshwater Plants.” Washington State Department of Ecology, Official Homepage. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2016. <http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/plants/weeds/aqua003.html&gt;.

 

https://seagrant.psu.edu/sites/default/files/Parrotfeather2013_reduced_0.pdf

Cloudy with a chance…

 

By Jared Reed, Saratoga Lake Boat Steward

On the water it’s easy to lose track of time and get so caught up having fun that you end up getting caught in a storm. Summer often brings with it sudden thunderstorms, and in just a few moments, a bright sunny day can become a dark rainy one. There is often poor cellphone reception on the water, and many boaters forget to bring a radio, or any sort of device that may warn them of impending storms.

One easy way to prevent this, is to learn how to read the sky… in particular, clouds. There are many different types of clouds, but which clouds will ruin your day? Let’s look at a couple key players:

cloud diagram

Fair Weather Clouds:
Cirrocumulus– Look like lines in the sand, or ripples on a lake
Altocumulus – bright white puffy cotton clouds
Cumulus – Large, white, and fluffy
Cirrus – high altitude, look like feathers, often called “mane tale” for resembling a horse’s tail

All of these clouds indicate good weather, and are useful to provide some shade on a hot sunny day! However, Cumulus – the large fluffy clouds- can develop into heavy rains. Watch to make sure it does not grow bigger, or develop more ‘heads’ as that can indicate storms.

Poor Weather Clouds:

Cumulonimbus – characterized by the flat ‘anvil’ top. These are thunder clouds and bring rough weather. They often appear dark grey due to the amount of water vapor saturated within the cloud, preventing sunlight from illuminating it. Watch for ‘tall’ clouds.
Stratus – low clouds, resembling fog, often bring rain with them
Cumulus – Listed twice, these clouds can quickly develop into rain storms, even on a fair weather day.

Storms are often immediately preceded by a drastic drop in temperature, a sudden shift in the winds, and a sudden strong cent (known as petrichor). If you think there is a storm approaching, start heading to the dock immediately, as storms are particularly dangerous on open waters. If you are caught on the water during a storm, immediately put on a life jacket, and immediately head towards the dock. If on a fishing skiff or speedboat, or can otherwise cannot make it to land, drop anchor, remove all metal jewelry, and get low in the center of the boat – lighting will strike the highest point. Do not go in the water and stow the rod and reel. Thunderstorms typically do not last longer than 30minutes.

Stay safe… and avoid boating during inclement weather!

 

Sources:
http://sectionhiker.com/predicting-the-weather-using-clouds/
http://www.boatingmag.com/surviving-lightning-strikes-while-boating

 

Welcome to Saratoga

 

Written by Jared Reed. Saratoga Lake Boat Steward

June 28, 2014

Located at the northern edge of New York’s Capital District, and only a few miles from the Adirondack Park, Saratoga is a local summer destination. The Spa City is home to one of the most popular Capital District retreats: Saratoga Spa State Park. Comprised of historic battlefields, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), endless jogging paths, mineral springs, and several museums and public baths – Saratoga Spa State Park has something for everybody. While the park itself does not abut on the Saratoga Lake, the park does maintain a public boat launch on the northern end of the lake.

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Saratoga Lake Marine Park Boat Launch. Photo: Jared Reed, NYS OPRHP

Saratoga Lake is approximately 4.5 miles long, 1.5 miles across at its widest, and is over 90ft deep. While this lake is easily dwarfed by other lakes in the region, Saratoga Lake plays a vital part in the health of New York State waterways. Saratoga is home to an unfortunate number of AIS (Aquatic Invasive Species), including Zebra Mussels, Curly-leaf Pondweed, and Eurasian Watermilfoil, and is a proven vector lake into the Adirondacks. Surveys of boat traffic have indicated that boaters are likely to visit lakes throughout the Adirondack Park, such as Lake George, Lake Champlain, Lake Placid, and other smaller lakes, after visiting Saratoga. If boaters fail to properly clean their boat, and then travel from Saratoga Lake to other lakes provide a method of transport for AIS, and can introduce new alien species into previously pristine lakes.

Vegetative AIS often become entangled in water intake valves, propellers, and can get trapped between boats and their trailers while docking. Smaller species, such as the juvenile stages of zebra mussels, can also take up residence in water wells aboard the ship – such as bilge water, ballast water, and live wells. New York State now prohibits the unauthorized transport of invasive species, and asks that all boaters clean off any vegetative matter from their ship, and drain any inboard water before leaving the docking station.

Remember to Clean, Drain, and Dry your boat, and maybe we’ll see you at Saratoga this summer!

 

For more information, check out:
http://www.nysparks.com/parks/saratogaspa
http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/93848.html
http://nysparks.com/parks/120/details.aspx

Species Profile: Hydrilla Verticillata

Written by Miranda, Niagara River Steward

September 17, 2014

Hydrilla is thought to have originated from the island of Sri Lanka and possibly the southern mainland of India, but it arrived in the United States from Korea as a popular aquarium plant. Colonies were first identified in canals in Miami and Tampa, Florida. Hydrilla fragments made their way up to New York by attaching to boats, their trailers, and live wells. Boat motors, oars, and other equipment break the plant into fragments, facilitating its spread throughout the affected water body and into nearby water bodies that are hydrologically connected. Hydrilla can spread between water bodies that are separated by geographic distance by “hitching a ride” on watercraft trailers and other recreational equipment. August of 2011 was the first time Hydrilla was found in New York. It was found in the Cayuga Inlet by Jordan Stark. In September of 2012 the species was found in the Erie Canal in North Tonawanda by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist. It also was found in Long Island. Since the introduction of Hydrilla in New York we have taken quick action to help prevent its further spread.

 

hydrilla photo

Hydrilla is a perennial plant. It grows in springs, marshes, lakes, canals, and rivers. This plant can tolerate low and high nutrient conditions and up to 7% salinity. There are two kinds of Hydrilla; a southern population which is comprised of mostly dioecious females (meaning the plants only have female flowers), and northern populations which are monoecious (meaning the plants have both male and female flowers).  The dioecious females overwinter as perennials. The monoecious plants set fertile seed and depend on their tubers for overwintering. Hydrilla can reproduce four different ways, including fragmentation, tubers, turions, and seeds. Fragmented pieces with one node are able to sprout into a whole new plant. Tubers are formed on the rhizome of the plant and each one can produce up to 6,000 new tubers! These tubers can lay dormant for over four years before sprouting into a new plant. Turions form in the leaf axil of the plant and then break off and settle into the sediment to produce a new plant. Seed dispersal is the least important reproductive method for the species and is often facilitated by ingestion and subsequent dropping of migratory birds. These plants can grow in low light conditions, deep depths and can photosynthesize earlier in the morning than their native competitors. At its beginning stages it can grow up to an inch a day until it reaches the surface of the water.

Identifying Hydrilla can be very tricky at times because it looks similar to a native plant, American Elodea, and another invasive plant, Brazilian Elodea. There are a few distinguishing characteristics that set Hydrilla apart from the other two aforementioned species. The leaves are 5/8 inches long and they grow in whorls of 3-10, 5 leaves per whorl being most common. The leaves have distinct serrated edges. A key feature is the dull-white to yellowish, potato like tuber that grow 2-12 inches below the sediment.

sketch

Hydrilla is one of the highest priority invasive plants in New York state.  It outcompetes native plants and causes destruction in our aquatic habitats. It can invade the deeper waters where many of our natives cannot and can aggressively grow up to an inch per day. This allows Hydrilla to form thick mats at the top of the surface blocking sunlight for the native plants below.  Oxygen is then depleted leading to decreased dissolved oxygen and potential fish kills. Sportfish weight and size can decrease due to the loss of open water and natural vegetation and their spawning habitats can be eliminated by Hydrilla. The species also causes obstructions for boating, swimming and fishing. The large dense mats of vegetation can cause property value to decrease, creating problems for homeowners and communities. Hydrilla not only affects our native habitat but also our local communities and businesses.

mat

Hydrilla can be controlled several different ways, however some methods are more effective than others. There are both chemical and non-chemical control options. These methods are very expensive and must be administered correctly to eliminate established populations of Hydrilla.

 

 

control methods chart
The Erie Canal in North Tonawanda is infested with Hydrilla. Just this past summer the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted herbicide treatments to try and decrease the population. On July 22, 2014 about 1,850 gallons of aquathol were applied to seven miles of the westernmost portion of the canal by boat. To do this they reduced the flow of the canal for 48 hours and allowed the herbicide to travel slowly downstream. This is the first year of application and it is said that it will greatly reduce the Hydrilla densities. The goal is to reduce Hydrilla biomass by 95% and decrease tubers by 85%. Extensive monitoring will be required to manage Hydrilla in the Erie Canal and Tonawanda Creek.

 

References/Photo Credits

“Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County.” 2011 Hydrilla Eradication Efforts. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Sept. 2014. http://ccetompkins.org/environment/invasive-species/fighting-hydrilla2011

“Hydrilla (Hydrilla Verticillata (L.f.) Royle).” New York Invasive Species Information. N.p., 3 Oct. 2012. Web. 11 Sept. 2014. http://www.nyis.info/?action=invasive_detail&id=16

“Aquatic Invasive Species.” HYDRILLA (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 11 Sept.2014 www.in.gov/dnr/files/hydrilla.pdf

“Highly Invasive Aquatic Plant Threatens New York’s Waters.” Department of Environmental Concervation. N.p., 21 Sept. 2012. Web. 11 Sept. 2014. http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/85078.html

“Combating Hydrilla.” US Army Corps of Engineers. N.p., 14 Aug. 2014. Web. 11 Sept. 2014. http://www.lrb.usace.army.mil/Media/NewsStories/tabid/6146/Article/494240/combating-hydrilla.aspx

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Steward Spotlight: Jake teaches summer camp at the Friends of Robert Moses State Park Nature Center

Written by Jake, Thousand Islands  Steward

September 8, 2014

 

On the last Thursday and Friday of August, I got the chance to work at the Friends of Robert Moses State Park Nature Center and help educate young children in the importance of environmental awareness. The first day consisted of me taking a nature walk with the kids and collecting water samples for them to use for exercises with microscopes. On our way to the river where we would collect samples, we managed to get a rare, close up look at a deer. We stood quietly watching the deer for a few minutes before it took off. This was some of the kids’ first close encounter experience with a wild animal.  Following our collection of the water samples, we took a walk back to the Nature Center and began exercises in microscopy. The kids learned about all the tools used with a microscope and got to look at some of the things you would find in water bodies. This first day gave me a chance to get introduced to the kids and see if they had interests in the environment.

On Friday, we learned about the history of the St. Lawrence River and got to participate in a few art projects. The first art project was making paper canoes with Native American designs on the side of them. This was the day that I also got the chance to do a presentation about invasive species and the Boat Steward position. The kids surprised me at the end of the presentation with a barrage of questions and comments about the plants I was looking for. They specifically thought that Fanwort was a pretty funny name for such a “scary” plant. The last thing we did with the kids was make a paint imprint of a fish on paper. To show their appreciation, all of the kids made an imprint for me and signed all of their names. I haven’t worked with children since I was in high school and it reminded me of how rewarding it is to actually be able to reach out to these kids.

Jake's gift from kids

      Above: The campers made a fish imprint for Jake as a “thank you” gift.

 This whole opportunity was such a wonderful experience and it made me think about a couple things. The first was that while this program is targeted towards checking boats for plants and educational outreach to boat owners, those owners’ kids are just as important to talk to about these issues. Even if contact is limited and they may not grasp all that they are being told, I realized that we as stewards should directly spread our message to all the people partaking in boating, not just the watercraft owner. I have been giving out children’s tattoos and bobbers to the kids and the pamphlets to the adults, but perhaps with these last few weeks on the job coming up, I should try and give more educational materials to the kids in the groups. My second thought is that after working with these kids, they seem to really have an interest in learning about the natural world. Seeing how excited they were after seeing that deer in the woods and taking part in environmental art projects, it just shows that education and outreach really do work.

It was a true privilege to get to work with these kids, even if it was for such a short time. Working with the employees at the Nature Center was also a pleasure. They were very kind and willing to assist me to make an invasive species presentation a little more interesting to young children. Getting a signed painted imprint that the kids made was also such a nice gesture and it meant a lot to me.

 

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Stories from the Field: Niagara River Boat Races

Written by Miranda, Niagara River Steward

September 4, 2014

The boat races on the Niagara River are an annual event that occurs every summer in the City of North Tonawanda. This event brings people from all around the country who enjoy the sport of hydroplane boat racing. Local vendors set up, bringing in delicious food and crafts and making it an event for all.  It also helps our local businesses in the city of North Tonawanda. There was a 1 ¼ mile race course for the boats; it had flag signals for time and instruction that told the racers specific information during the races. The boats complete between 3-5 laps each race. When the hydroplane boats are racing they create a rooster tail, this is a long plume of water that can be up to 4 boat lengths. Certain boats can reach speeds up to 170 mph during these races. This is an extremely dangerous sport. On the last race of the second day a boat caught wind and ended up doing a 360 degree turn in the air. Luckily the driver was not harmed, but the boat was severely damaged.

 

Boat race                                                                   

Above: Boats racing on the Niagara River in the City of North Tonawanda.

Photo Credit: Miranda Papp.

On the first day of the races there was inclement weather, so unfortunately only two races went on and the rest had to be canceled. Even though the weather was poor there still were people who showed interest in the invasive species table. The second day had a great turnout. Races occurred all day and the weather was amazing. This is the day I met a lot of great people who expressed interest in what our Boat Steward Program does. Many people asked which invasive species were in our area, how we decrease their numbers, where boat stewards were located, and many others. Everyone that I met was extremely friendly and showed a high level of interest.  I had about an equal number of people who knew about invasive species as those who didn’t. Therefore I got a lot of information out to people who didn’t know about the invasive species issue and the harm that it does. People from other states told me about the water bodies near their homes and similar problems that they deal with due to invasive species. It was nice to hear other people’s stories and encounters that they have had.

Altogether this was probably my favorite event and the one I felt people were most interested in. Doing public events such as the boat races reaches the target audience that we want because it is people that value the water systems in a different way. I was able to have great conversations with people who know about the problems, and I had the opportunity to hear their own personal stories.  I found it very rewarding to be able to educate people who knew little or nothing about the invasive species issues. That’s exactly why this program exists!

Anatomy of a hydroplane boat

Above: Anatomy of a hydroplane boat. 

Boat Types

  1. Grand Prix: hulls are a maximum of 26’ long and 12.5’ wide. Internal combustion engine with a maximum size of 468 cubic inches. A top speed of 170 mph. Mostly run in the Great Lakes region.
  2. “H and E” Hydro 350: hulls are a minimum of 16’ long and weigh no less than 1450lbs. Engine is a GM 305 cubic inch V-8 with a four barrel carburetor. A top speed of 120 mph. Most competitive class of inboard hydroplane racing.
  3. Pro-Stock/CanAm: hulls a maximum of 20 feet long. Motors can be a maximum of 500 cubic inches. This class has special rules set up and enforced by the A.C.T.O.N. Board.
  4. “T & CT- class” 1.5 liter stock: hulls are a minimum of 13’6’’ long and must weigh a minimum of 750lbs. Top speed of 90 mph. Mostly runs on the east coast.
  5. “S and CS class” 2.5L Stock: hulls are a minimum of 13’ long and weigh a minimum of 975lbs. this class is promoted for the purpose of establishing a low cost stock class engine for racing. Top speed of 110 mph.

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Press Release: Governor Signs AIS Bill

Andrew M. CuomoGovernor

Governor Cuomo Signs Bill Aiding in Fight Against AIS

Albany, NY (September 2, 2014)Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation prohibiting the launch of watercraft in New York State without taking reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. The bill (A9619-B, S7851-B) advances current efforts by the State and private organizations to halt the introduction and spread of invasive aquatic species into New York’s waters.“The natural beauty that is found in every corner of New York is second to none, and it is imperative that we do everything possible to protect that from the dangers of invasive species,” Governor Cuomo said. “We all share a responsibility to protect our natural environment, and this legislation helps ensure that all who enjoy New York’s waters will also do their part to limit the spread of different types of aquatic life that would otherwise harm the local ecosystem.”

The legislation signed by Governor Cuomo makes it the responsibility of boaters launching watercraft to use common sense when putting in and taking out their boats. Before transportation or launch, the boater should first clean, drain and dry the boat, trailer, and any other exposed equipment of visible plant and animal matter, or have taken other reasonable measures to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. This will help prevent the spread between waterbodies and introduction of invasive species in new waterbodies throughout New York.

Invasive species are a threat because they have few natural predators in their new environment and can carry harmful diseases. Ultimately, invasives can outcompete native plants and animals and change entire ecosystems. Aquatic invasive species are one of the greatest threats to the State’s treasured waterways because once introduced, they are nearly impossible to eradicate and expensive to manage.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, aquatic invasive species seriously threaten economically important industries, such as tourism and fishing. Invasive species cost the U.S. economy an estimated $120 billion per year, and while the State has implemented various programs designed to control the spread of aquatic invasives, it is far more cost-effective to prevent them altogether.

Senator Tom O’Mara said, “Individual boaters are the front line of defense against the spread of invasive species, and this new initiative offers a straightforward approach asking all boaters to do our part to help protect waterways, regional tourism economies and local jobs. Taking every possible step to stop the spread of destructive invasive species before they take hold is the most cost-effective and common-sense approach to combat this severe threat to the environment and economy of the Finger Lakes and other waterways statewide.”

Assemblymember Barbara Lifton said, “I am very pleased and appreciate the governor signing into law this important piece of legislation. This is a promising new day in our battle against aquatic invasive species that threaten our high-quality water resources and the recreational and economic benefits they provide,”

Stuart F. Gruskin, Chief Conservation and External Affairs Officer for The Nature Conservancy in New York, said, “The Nature Conservancy commends Governor Cuomo for signing this important legislation, which will reduce the spread of aquatic invasive species that harm human, economic and environmental health. Each year, invasive species cost our communities millions of dollars. By taking simple and common sense measures to clean, drain and dry our boats we can reduce the spread of these harmful species and protect our fishing, tourism and other water-dependent industries. We appreciate Governor Cuomo’s commitment to prevent the spread of invasive species and applaud the bill sponsors Senator Thomas O’Mara and Assemblymember Barbara Lifton for their leadership on this issue in the Legislature.”

Governor Cuomo’s signing of the bill today complements a broad approach by State agencies to combat the spread of invasive species in New York’s waters. The Department of Environmental Conversation this summer adopted regulations similar to this bill that prohibits boats from launching or leaving water access sites on Department of Environmental Conversation land without first taking these precautions. The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation this summer published proposed regulations that would place similar requirements on watercraft using State Parks. Several local municipalities and organizations in the State have already adopted local laws to address the spread of aquatic invasive species, including boat inspection and washing requirements. In 2014, the State adopted the first ever mandatory invasive species inspection programs at all boat launches on Lake George.

New York State has invested millions of dollars in response, mitigation and prevention programs to rid the environment of invasive species on water and land. In July, Governor Cuomo announced the State’s first-ever Invasive Species Awareness Week to teach New Yorkers and visitors about the threat that these pests pose to our environment. More information about the State’s efforts to control and rid the environment of invasive species can be found here.

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Boat Stewards in the News!

On Thursday, August 14 three NYS Parks Boat Stewards from the Genesee Region (Becca Hull, Joe Little, and Rick Clark) pitched in to remove water chestnuts from the Braddock Bay. Check out the coverage here!

Waterchestnut002

The Rochester Channel 8 story is included below:

The fight is on against a pesky plant that is threatening some of our areas waterways, and now local volunteers are trying to get rid of the water chestnut.   It’s a hands-on job, that a group of 28 volunteers know will make a difference.  Pulling water chestnuts from Braddock Bay, is not an easy job… they have to be pulled by hand, one by one.

“It’s a dirty messy job but we are out there in canoes and kayaks just bagging this stuff,” explained the pull’s coordinator, Hilary Mosher.

The water chestnut is not native to the Rochester area and it can choke out other water plants that are supposed to live here.  A number of groups including the Department of Environmental Conservation, the College at Brockport, the Nature Conservancy and the Audubon Society hope to get rid of it before it is too late.

“We need to make sure it remains healthy,” attested June Summers of the Genesee Valley Audubon Society.  “We need to get this invasive out because it will take over the bay if it’s allowed to very quickly.”

Volunteers have already pulled dozens of bags full of water chestnuts from the lake but their work is far from over.

“I brought 75 bags, and we still had to go out and buy more,” sighed Mosher.

The group is working quickly because once the plant drops it’s seeds it can multiply very fast.

The College at Brockport’s Brad Mudrzynski says, “it can basically take over an area in a cove pretty quickly.”

“One acre of this plant for one year can create 100 acres the following years,” said Mosher.  That’s something no one wants to see happen.

Read more about projects aimed at improving Braddock Bay:

EPA funds to help design Braddock Bay fix

Water chestnuts choking Braddock Bay

 

Stories from the Field: First Water Chestnut Pull @ Braddock Bay

Written by Becca Hull (Lake Ontario Boat Steward)

August 11, 2014

Two of the New York State Parks boat stewards were invited to help assist the Finger Lakes PRISM, the Nature Conservatory, and the Audubon Society eradicate water chestnut, Trapa natans, from Braddock Bay located in Greece, NY.

beccas chestnut

Drawing credit: Becca Hull

“What’s the big deal about water chestnut?” is a question I have been hearing all summer at Braddock Bay. T. natans originated in Europe, Asia, and Africa where native insect parasites preyed on the plant. In America, water chestnut reproduces rapidly because there are no natural predators to keep the growth in check. Once water chestnut takes over an area they can form floating mats which create hazards for boaters. The mats can limit the light penetration of the sun, out compete other native plants, and provide little nutritional value for fish. The simple answer is water chestnut has the ability to disrupt the freshwater ecosystem of our Great lakes.

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Above: The crew with their chestnut haul. Photo credit: Hilary Mosher, Finger Lakes PRISM

On Thursday July, 31, 2014, the team hit the water, we paddled through the docks finding the occasional water chestnut. As we reached the strip of land separating the bay from lake, we were in for a big surprise. Patches and patches of dense water chestnut colonies had invaded the waters. Our bags filled quickly, by the end of the day we had filled 10 hefty black garbage bags.

The amount of water chestnut growing was overwhelming! Another water chestnut pull has been organized this upcoming Thursday, August 14that Braddock Bay Marina. Come out and help our cause!

Special thanks to Hilary Mosher, Veronica Schmitt, June Summers, Wiley Summers, and Rick Clark for partaking in the pull!

Interested in more information about water chestnut? Check out the New York Invasive Species Information webpage.