NYSG and Other Volunteers Make a Dent in Invasive Water Chestnut Plants
Great Lakes Aquatic Invasive Species - Watercraft Inspection - Press Release
Groups Plan Water Chestnut Pull at Port Ontario July 14

Oswego, NY, May 14, 2012 - Several volunteers, conservation organizations and angler groups have worked together over the past few years to help slow the spread of water chestnuts in Oswego County rivers. Headed by the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District, the groups (which include New York Sea Grant) will hold a water chestnut pull at Port Ontario on Saturday, July 14.

“The establishment of water chestnut can result in large floating mats of vegetation that 'clog' aquatic habitats and limit the penetration of sunlight into the water column, impeding the growth of native plants and ultimately disrupting the food web,” said NYSG's Coastal Community Development Specialist Mary Penney.

Water chestnut, native to Europe, Asia and Africa, was unintentionally released into the Charles River in the late 1800s. It was known to exist in the Great Lakes Basin by the late 1950s. Locally, water chestnut has become established in sections of the Oswego River and have been found in the Salmon and Oneida rivers.

John DeHollander, District Manager of the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District, is coordinating many of the control efforts. “It is difficult to slow the spread of water chestnut once it becomes established in a shallow water area,” he said. The non-native aquatic plant produces a large number of seeds, as many as 300 'nutlets' a year, helping it to grow in colonies that rapidly multiply.

Last July, NYSG's aquatic invasive species resource educators pitched in with nearly 30 members of the Oswego County River Guides Association to help restore four acres of the Salmon River in Oswego County against water chestnut.

“The hand-pull last summer at Port Ontario went very well with support from the River Guides Association and New York Sea Grant,” said DeHollander. "This area in the lower portion of the Salmon River has been one of the areas targeted for hand pulling because the plant has not become fully established there."

Family of Paddlers - The Jan van der Heide family helped to pull water chestnuts from the lower Salmon River at Port Ontario last summer. Oswego County River Guides, New York Sea Grant, and other volunteers will hold a water chestnut pull Saturday, July 14. Volunteers will meet at the Pine Grove Boat Launch. Photo by Janet Clerkin, Oswego County Tourism Office.

In addition to the Salmon River Estuary, several acres of plants were pulled last summer by volunteers on the Oswego and Oneida rivers.

For several years, Dick and Naneen Drosse of Minetto, NY have led a valiant effort pulling water chestnuts on  the Oswego River, with the help of other kayakers and private individuals. Their hard work is starting to pay off, said Naneen Drosse. "There was a definite improvement last summer in some of the areas where they have hand-pulled each year."

Water chestnut pulls on the Oswego River have been supplemented by a chemical treatment by the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District to more than 200 acres of plant cover. “Mixed results appeared during post-treatment," said DeHollander. "Further sampling last fall showed that some areas still had a high percentage of viable nuts for growth in the next season, while other areas are showing promise of reductions." This application will take place again in 2012 subject to available funding from the Oswego County Legislature.

Bass anglers conducted a very successful hand-pull along the Oneida River last summer. The project was a collaborative effort of the Salt City Bassmasters, the Good Ole Boys Bass Club, and the New York BASS Chapter Federation. They plan to conduct a similar project in 2012.

DeHollander says that every one of these efforts help to mitigate the spread proliferation and further spread of water chestnut. "We all need to remain vigilant in the fight against this highly invasive aquatic plant.”

“We look forward to having another successful hand pull event this July with all of the volunteers, cooperating agencies, organizations and private individuals,” he continued. For more information or to sign up for the July 14 pull at Port Ontario, contact the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District at 315-592-9663.

Water Chestnut can form a thick mass of vegetation, limiting fishing and water recreation activities, once it is established in a shallow water area. Pulling is effective before they become established in a body of water. Photo by Janet Clerkin, Oswego County Tourism Office.

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, is one of 32 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program (NSGCP) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NSGCP engages this network of the nation’s top universities in conducting scientific research, education, training and extension projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our aquatic resources. Through its statewide network of integrated services, NYSG has been promoting coastal vitality, environmental sustainability, and citizen awareness about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources since 1971.

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