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Volunteers Will Attack Water Chestnut Plants on Area Waterways

Aiden Michael and Mary Marturano assisted on the Oswego River water chestnut pull last summer. Volunteers will meet Aug. 1 to remove water chestnut plants near Battle Island. (Photo courtesy of Dick Drosse.)

Aiden Michael and Mary Marturano assisted on the Oswego River water chestnut pull last summer. Volunteers will meet Aug. 1 to remove water chestnut plants near Battle Island. (Photo courtesy of Dick Drosse.)

PORT ONTARIO  – Volunteers and environmental groups have organized two events to help control the spread of water chestnuts on area waterways.

Aiden Michael and Mary Marturano assisted on the Oswego River water chestnut pull last summer. Volunteers will meet Aug. 1 to remove water chestnut plants near Battle Island. (Photo courtesy of Dick Drosse.)
Aiden Michael and Mary Marturano assisted on the Oswego River water chestnut pull last summer. Volunteers will meet Aug. 1 to remove water chestnut plants near Battle Island. (Photo courtesy of Dick Drosse.)

River guides, members of local environmental groups, and other volunteers will gather July 11, at the Pine Grove Boat Launch near Selkirk Shores State Park for a community water chestnut pull on the Salmon River Estuary.

On Aug. 1, volunteers Dick and Naneen Drosse will lead a hand pull event on the Oswego River in the Battle Island area.

The July 11 event is part of New York’s second annual Invasive Species Awareness Week and is sponsored by the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District, Saint Lawrence – Eastern Lake Ontario Partnership for Regional Invasive Species (SLELO PRISM), and the Salmon River Guides Association.

During the week of July 12-18, events are being held across the state to raise awareness about invasive species.

John DeHollander, district manager of the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District, has coordinated water chestnut control efforts in Oswego County for the past several years.

The district relies on a combination of chemical treatment and hand pulling by volunteers to control water chestnut plants in the Oswego and Salmon Rivers, Sage Creek and Oneida Lake.

Volunteers in canoes and kayaks collected nearly 25 bags of water chestnuts from the Salmon River Estuary last July. The next Salmon River water chestnut pull will be July 11, at Pine Grove boat launch. (Photo courtesy of John DeHollander.)
Volunteers in canoes and kayaks collected nearly 25 bags of water chestnuts from the Salmon River Estuary last July. The next Salmon River water chestnut pull will be July 11, at Pine Grove boat launch. (Photo courtesy of John DeHollander.)

“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. Chemicals alone will not completely reduce nor eradicate water chestnut. It takes the effort by many others to hand pull this invasive plan from our waters,” said DeHollander.

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.

Members of the St. Lawrence Eastern Lake Ontario PRISM will lead a session July 11 at 8:30 a.m. at the Pine Grove boat launch on how to identify common invasive species and monitor their presence.

The community water chestnut pull will be from 9:15 a.m. until noon.

“These events are a great way for communities to help protect our natural resources while having fun and learning at the same time,” said Rob Williams, invasive species program coordinator for SLELO-PRISM.

Also assisting in the project are Selkirk Shores State Park, the Pine Grove Association, New York Sea Grant, County Legislator Shawn Doyle, and several concerned individuals and families.

Collection bags will be furnished.

Volunteers may ride in a driftboat with a river guide or bring their own canoes and kayaks.

On Aug. 1, volunteers will meet at 10 a.m. at Dick and Naneen Drosse’s home, 16 Hickory Grove Spur, Fulton, to launch canoes and kayaks on the Oswego River.

The Drosses have coordinated water chestnut pulls in the Battle Island area for several years.

Collection bags and gloves will be provided.

Rain date for the Oswego River event is Aug. 2.

“Hand pulling the water chestnuts around the Battle Island area has made a significant impact on their elimination,” said volunteer coordinator Drosse. “While looking for and pulling the water chestnuts, paddlers can enjoy the local historical sites and scenery. Refreshments will be offered afterwards to the group. Extra canoes and kayaks should be available.”

For more information or to sign up for the July 11 event at Port Ontario, contact the Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District at 315-592-9663 or SLELO-PRISM at 315-387-3600, ext. 7724.

For information or to sign up for the Aug. 1 event contact Dick or Naneen Drosse at  343-4565 or email [email protected]

The events will be held in the event of light rain.

Paddlers should bring personal flotation devices.

In high winds or lightening, the events will be postponed and re-scheduled.

To learn more about New York Invasive Species Awareness Week, visit www.nyis.info/blog.