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Volunteers To Hand Pull Water Chestnuts

Cat Hadlow with water chestnuts she's pulled at the Battle Island area of the Oswego River and Canal

Cat Hadlow with water chestnuts she's pulled at the Battle Island area of the Oswego River and Canal

FULTON, NY – Volunteers will take to the water early next month to help protect the environment.

On Aug. 2, dozens of people will once again do a hand-pulling of the invasive water chestnut around the historical Battle Island area of the Oswego River and Canal.

Cat Hadlow with water chestnuts she's pulled at the Battle Island area of the Oswego River and Canal
Cat Hadlow with water chestnuts she’s pulled at the Battle Island area of the Oswego River and Canal

The invasive water chestnut has plagued the Oswego River and Canal, creating a negative impact on the ecological balance of the river, boating and fishing.

Currently, large mats of the chestnuts are effectively being topically treated.

In conjunction, smaller and hard to reach locations have had the chestnuts hand pulled with great success.

Each rosette (the floating top pad) can produce multiple nutlets, which in turn, each produce new water chestnuts.

Volunteers will launch at 10 a.m. from the Drosse residence at Hickory Grove, Fulton.

Plastic collection bags will be provided, courtesy of Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District.

For information about participating, write: [email protected] or call 343-4565.

An extra canoe is available, for use, if needed.

Refreshments to follow.

Volunteers display their water chestnut booty pulled from the historical Oswego Canal and guard lock by Battle Island during a previous event
Volunteers display their water chestnut booty pulled from the historical Oswego Canal and guard lock by Battle Island during a previous event

The water chestnut plant is an invasive species that, once established, can significantly reduce the quality of the native habitat, impede recreational use of waterways, and interfere with aquatic ecosystems.

Water chestnut is present in shallow areas of the lower Salmon River Estuary as well as in sections of the Oswego River, Oneida River and Oneida Lake.

It is difficult to slow the spread of water chestnut once it becomes established in a shallow water area. Volunteers have successfully led hand-pull efforts over the past several summers to remove the plant from the Salmon River Estuary, Oneida Lake and sections of the Oswego River.

The plants can create large floating mats of vegetation that restrict the penetration of sunlight, limit the growth of native plants, and disrupt the food web.

Each water chestnut plant can produce up to 300 nuts per year.

The floating leaves are triangular to rhombic in shape, one to two inches long, and have sharp pointed teeth on the margins.

They are arranged in a broad rosette that sits on the water surface. The submerged leaves are alternate and coarsely feather-like, growing up to six inches in length.

Tiny white flowers emerge from the center of the rosettes and produce large (about one inch) hard, horned fruits.

Dave (a retired Forest Ranger) and Uli Larribee help with hand pulling at Battle Island at a previous event.
Dave (a retired Forest Ranger) and Uli Larribee help with hand pulling at Battle Island at a previous event.

Fruits ripen in about a month and soon sink to the bottom. Most fruits germinate within the first two years, although a few may wait up to 12 years.

One seed can give rise to ten to fifteen rosettes, and each rosette may produce as many as twenty seeds. With high rates of germination, growth can be explosive.

Decomposition of the large volume of plants may also contribute to lower levels of dissolved oxygen in shallower waters.

Low levels of oxygen adversely affect the natural inhabitants of these waters, creating additional problems.

To learn more about the water chestnut, and other invasive aquatic and terrestrial plants go to the SLELO-PRISM webiste: http://www.sleloinvasives.org/regional-prisms/slelo-prism-partners/