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SUNY Oswego’s RSVP teams up with Oswego County Soil & Water Conservation District to tackle invasive water chestnut

OSWEGO – The Retired & Senior Volunteer Program, a division of SUNY Oswego’s Office of Business and Community Relations recently partnered with Oswego County’s Water & Soil Conservation District in an effort to educate, promote and increase community awareness of an invasive aquatic plant called the European Water Chestnut (Trapa natans L.).

A family affair: The Van der Heides -- from left, Jill, daughter Ruthie and husband, Jan --attend a recent water chestnut hand-pull event in Port Ontario.
A family affair: The Van der Heides — from left, Jill, daughter Ruthie and husband, Jan –attend a recent water chestnut hand-pull event in Port Ontario.

The highly invasive plants, while categorized as an annual, return each year with a vengeance, infiltrating local area waterways.

If left unattended it threatens to dominate and potentially destroy fisheries, recreational water activities such as boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and swimming and the ecosystem.

Volunteers are needed to continue to work with Oswego County SWCD in August to root out this invasive plant.

According to John DeHollander, district manager of the Oswego County SWCD, “The plant is very consuming of shallow and slow-moving bodies of water. Once established it is difficult to eliminate. We are seeing an upward trend in the number of local waterways and estuaries becoming plagued with the water chestnut. Since many of the infestations are too small to consider using mechanical or even chemical control, the simplest and most efficient physical control method is hand pulling via boats, canoes, kayaks and even wading into the shallow water. We are asking for volunteer assistance with hand pulls, along with a few local volunteer coordinators to manage the process. We schedule annual pulls between July and August, which require some pre-planning and preparation. My office works closely with volunteers to provide educational support, guidance and planning.”

RSVP has responded to this important community need and will facilitate recruitment of senior volunteers (55+ years) and extends an open invitation to all community residents as well.

RSVP urges local residents to take a proactive stand in the conservation and management of our beautiful waterways through localized removal efforts.

Volunteers are encouraged to contact DeHollander at 592-9663 or [email protected] and tell him RSVP sent you.

For more information on this latest initiative, other volunteer opportunities offered through RSVP partnering agencies, or to receive the Mature Living newsletter, call 312-2317 or email [email protected]

RSVP is a federal initiative of the Corporation for National & Community Service and is sponsored locally by SUNY Oswego and the United Way.