Posts Tagged ‘water chestnuts’

by John Stith/The Post-Standard, link to original post

Otisco Lake
Maximum depth: 60 feet
surface area: 1,878 acres
length: 5.4 miles
maximum width: 1 mile
More information: www.otiscolakepreservation.org
Donations: accepted online through PayPal on the Web site

Otisco Lake, one of the smallest of the Finger Lakes, faces the same problems as its bigger siblings to the west: an influx of invasive weeds.

The problem has grown so large that property owners who live on and around the lake formed an association to tackle the problem. “It’s a wonderful lake,” Otisco Lake Preservation Association President Anita Williams said. “It’s a jewel. People say it’s a hidden jewel of the Finger Lakes.”

The Onondaga County Water Authority draws from the lake, and it’s 1,878 acres contain large populations of walleye, tiger muskellunge, sunfish, perch, rock bass, whit bass, large and small mouth bass, crappie, bullhead and brown trout.

As is the case with the other water bodies in the state, milfoil and water chestnuts weeds discourage recreational use of Otisco Lake and affect its water quality. The state Department of Environmental Conservation estimates that hundreds of Upstate lakes, rivers and ponds are infested with milfoil, water chestnuts and other invasive species.

Association Vice President Kristin Ryan said the weed problem has grown increasingly worse in the past three years. She said that in the late 1980s the weeds weren’t a problem. “I remember back then people would be water-skiing and tubing,” she said. “But then it started changing.”

The milfoil gets tangled around boat propellers, she said, and forms dense mats on the water surface that discourage boating and swimming.

Nearby Skaneateles Lake is spending more than $1 million to pull the milfoil out of the lake by hand. In Madison County, after decades of mechanical harvesting, the milfoil problem was so bad in Cazenovia Lake that the lake was treated this summer with an herbicide to kill the weed. A second herbicide treatment is planned for next summer.

Since Otisco Lake is used as a public water supply, chemical treatment is out of the question, Williams said. The Otisco association formed last fall, and to date, the group has raised a little more than $12,000 in donations from individuals and businesses.

So far, the association has relied on mechanical harvesting, suctioning and pulling the weeds by hand to control both milfoil and water chestnuts. Boaters are encouraged to pull weeds from the lake whenever they see them, and property owners have hired both the harvester and a contractor to remove the weeds by suction. “We know that harvesting is not the answer,” Williams said, “but for our type of lake, I think it has a place.”

Ryan added, “Is harvesting the answer? Probably not. But it has helped this summer.”

The association is working with the state DEC, Cornell Cooperative Extension, the county health department and the water authority to develop long-term plans to control the weeds.”Our long-term solution is a multi-pronged approach,” Williams said. “We’re going to do harvesting, and suction, then use weed mats.”

The association will also look at biological controls, like carp, that have shown some promise, she said.

In addition to raising money from property owners and others concerned about the future of the lake, the group is looking for grant money to help fund the fight. The association is also looking at the lake’s watershed to develop a watershed management plan to control runoff from the surrounding land into the lake. “We are new,” Williams said, “and we don’t have much money, but we are going after grants. … We’ve done what we could, and the people are appreciative.”

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By Erin Place, The Palladium-Times  link to original article

A hazy September morning was the perfect day for a canoe ride on the Oswego River and a history lesson from environmentalist and local history aficionado Dick Drosse.

We launched behind Drosse’s house on Hickory Grove Road in Minetto. After climbing into the canoe, we paddled through the still waters of the river that mostly was covered with a green surface layer made up of river algae and lily pads. We avoided impassable patches of water chestnuts that had infiltrated large sections of the river. This is an invasive species to the area, Drosse said, noting that this year the water chestnuts had nearly doubled since last year.

One of the first historic landmarks on the river we passed was Battle Island. The island was host to the historic battle of 1756 where British troops were ambushed by French and Indian forces. It’s hard to believe that history happened on this overgrown island floating in the middle of the Oswego River. The eastern end of the island was once connected to the riverbank and mainland many years ago, Drosse said.

The first remaining structure we saw was one of the stone masonry locks that was part of the original Oswego Canal. The construction on the 19.7-mile canal began in 1826 and was the only connector into the Erie Canal. The stone locks were used until the turn of the 19th century and were largely forgotten about after the new lock system on the river was installed. As we traveled through the lock, we passed a dilapidated dock and under a wooden bridge that was also beginning to fall apart.

Next on our list of places to see as we traveled farther down the river was the house John VanBuren and the tavern he once operated. VanBuren lived in Volney in the early- and mid-1800s during the height of the Oswego Canal’s operation. His red brick and white Doric column house stood proudly roughly 40 feet away from the riverbank. Someone still lives there today, but Drosse is unsure who the current owner is.

VanBuren’s red brick tavern was a little farther down the river and was more overgrown than the neatly kept house. Not only did VanBuren operate a tavern for canal travelers, but he also kept a stable to feed, water and change mules, a blacksmith shop and a store filled with goods for those traversing the canal. There is also a neglected cemetery belonging to the VanBurens, but we were not able to see it via canoe because of the weeds blocking our path.

The last remaining structure we passed on our way back to Drosse’s house was the remnants of a starch factory that burned down sometime in the 1800s. Drosse joked that Thomas Kingsford, the famous Oswego inventor of Kingsford Starch, sent somebody out in the middle of the night to burn the competitor’s factory to the ground. All that remained was the cement foundation and a small archway.

It is amazing the historic and interesting things you can find tucked away in your own backyard. So next time you get the chance, take a ride on the Oswego River and view a little bit of hidden history.

For additional paddling options in this region, pick up a copy of Take A Paddle – Finger Lakes New York Quiet Water for Canoes & Kayaks.

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by George Richert, WIVB, link to original article

Fish and Wildlife experts are gearing up for an all out assault on Tonawanda Creek this weekend, where experts hope to wipe out water chestnuts before too much damage is done. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service discovered them a couple months ago on a routine fish survey.

Michael Goehle from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said, “We started what’s called a Rapid Response. We quickly notified the local agencies, Erie County Parks and they’ve all been very supportive in our plans to go in and try to hand pull the water chestnuts.”

Why all the fuss about getting rid of them?

Goehle continues, “They form very dense colonies and you can see some of the colonies here, it’s very difficult for a kayak or a coner to get through. We’re kind of the early stages here in Tonawanda Creek, but if we were to let this go another year or two, it would continue to sprawl across the backwater and make if very hard to utilities.”

This Sunday, U.S. Fish and Wildlife will have the help of nearly a dozen volunteers from Buffalo Niagara river keeper. They’ll use canoes and kayaks and pull the plants up by hand, the root and all. They hope to cover a 6-acre area of Tonawanda Creek. They won’t clear all the standing weeds, just the Invasive water chestnuts, but some of the park users think anything will help.

Brad Ferry, park user, said, “I think it’s a good idea, I’d like to keep it clear through here. I’d like to see them even dredge, so boats can get through and make it more accessible.”

Eric, canoer, said, “Well, I think it’s a good idea, ’cause I’ve been paddling here for the past 15 years, and we used to paddle around the island, but the weeds have gotten so thick, I never paddle there, it gets to be too gross.”

These are not believed to be the edible kind of water chestnuts, and the next closest place they were found was in Chautauqua or the Montezuma swamps.

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