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On YouTube: Volunteers battle water chestnut growth in Oswego County
Great Lakes Aquatic Invasive Species - Watercraft Inspection - News

A group of volunteers, including members of New York Sea Grant's Waterfront Launch Steward Program (pictured above, in red T-shirts), gathered in Oswego County Saturday morning to help battle an invasive species that has taken over several bodies of water in that area. YNN's Candace Hopkins shows us water chestnut, and the problems the weed creates.

Pulaski, NY, July 13, 2013 -  On first glance water chestnut looks like an average plant, but the invasive species has overtaken shorelines on both the Oswego and Salmon Rivers (as pictured below). Thick patches of it make boating nearly impossible, and it can damage the local ecosystem.

"It has a tendency to sprout, come up to the surface, and then it's just like taking a Venetian blind and pulling it across the water surface; it shades out and shadows out the sunlight. So, it prevents the sunlight from penetrating down and providing that additional warmth and growth to the vegetation," said Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District Manager John DeHollander.

Last August Oswego County officials treated one area of the Oswego River with herbicide, hoping to wipe the water chestnuts out. And Saturday morning a group of volunteers gathered at the Pine Grove Boat Launch in Pulaski to do their part. They headed out in boats and kayaks to hand-pull the weed. It's a battle some of these residents, like Dick Drosse of Minetto, have been fighting for years.

"Basically with us living by the Battle Island area, they've had this infestation of the water chestnuts for quite a few years, and the mats have developed there. So, what we've done is gone out and found areas where you can do some hand-picking of the chestnuts," said Drosse.

Hand-pulling has been successful here, because the plant was attacked before it was able to spread. In addition to hurting the environment, local boat captains worry the problem could impact their fishing businesses.

"I mean, it affects us, even people that are full time guides or captains but even people that are just recreational boaters. I know there's one river in Oswego County that's become completely choked off. You couldn't get a boat with a motor up or down the river because it would just clog your prop," said Oswego County River Guides Association President Phil Bortz.

Now local officials hope the problem will get more attention, before it produces far-reaching consequences.

This is the third year of the event. Another pull will be held in Minetto in August. For more information on that event, you can contact Dick Drosse at 315-343-4565, or you can reach out to the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation Department as well.

Additional Content:

New York Sea Grant offers a variety of aquatic invasive species content via its Launch Steward Program and Clean and Safe Boating Campaign. Below is a sample of some related news items and fact sheets. Others items specifically on water chestnut can be found in the "Related Links" box in the left-hand column of this page.

  • NYSG Fact Sheet: Invasive Species of Lakes Erie and Ontario (pdf)

  • Brochure/Rack Card: Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! / Clean Boats, Clean Waters (Summer 2013) (click here)

  • Help Prevent AIS Spread BEFORE We Pay for Their Management (August 2013) (click here)

  • Can We Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers? Here’s How (August 2013) (click here)

  • NY Sea Grant Waterfront Launch Steward Program Expanding for 2013 (June 2013) (click here)

  • 2013 Clean and Safe Boating Campaign Launches (April 2013) (click here)

  • New Great Lakes Coastal Stewardship How-To Resources (Fall 2012) (click here)

  • On Air: College students help fight invasive species (August 2012) (click here)

More Info:

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, is one of 33 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.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG also offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/coastlines for NY Coastlines, its flagship publication, and Currents, its e-newsletter supplement, each distributed 3-4 times a year.

YNN is one of thirteen 24-hour local news channels owned and operated by Time Warner Cable nationwide. Content is generated from seven regional newsrooms. The system has nearly 600,000 subscribers across a 25-county, 15,000 square mile area. YNN Syracuse telecasts one program feed to Central/Northern NY, one to the Southern Tier. Learn more: www.ynn.com.

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