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By January 5, 2015 0 Comments Read More →

Cayuga Lake: Hydrilla Hunters Needed in Seneca and Cayuga County Lakeside Communities

Hilary Lambert

Cayuga Lake Watershed Network

The Hydrilla Task Force of the Cayuga Lake Watershed has developed an active and successful program to eradicate the hydrilla found in Cayuga Inlet in August 2011. With an aggressive program of chemical application and continual monitoring, there is no growing hydrilla in the Inlet and the viable hydrilla tuber count in the sediments of Cayuga Inlet has dropped steeply. The adjacent patch of hydrilla found last summer in Ithaca’s Stewart Park waterways is now also being treated and watched carefully. More information is available here: http://www.stophydrilla.org

The early August 2013 discovery of a small but thriving patch in Stewart Park, not far from the original successful treatment area, has set off an alarm for many. We are concerned that hydrilla may already be growing along the lake in other locations – the plants having traveled via drift or by being entangled in boat and trailers and dropped off at new locations.  We need eyes on the water, along the shoreline and off our docks – Hydrilla Hunters who know how to identify hydrilla and where to report it. We also need to convey the importance of cleaning boats and trailers of every single plant segment, before and after a lake or waterway outing.

In reaction to these lakewide concerns, Hydrilla Task Force members Cayuga Lake Watershed Network and Floating Classroom have moved their Hydrilla Hunter recruitment and training efforts north for the summer and fall of 2014.  We want to find hydrilla early so that it can be removed by experts without the need for chemicals, which are of little or no use in the open lake and could be harmful.

Last week, a letter was sent to the supervisors of the 16 lakefront towns and villages in the Cayuga Lake watershed. It said, in part: “We are seeking volunteer hydrilla hunter lakeshore coordinators for each town with lakeshore frontage. We hope that you might be able to suggest to us a good person or group for this task, and/or to notify your local residents and service organizations that we are seeking help, from now until the weather gets cold

“Here is some background on why hydrilla might soon be a problem along your town’s shoreline, and the tasks that a volunteer hydrilla hunter coordinator would do.

The Cayuga Lake Hydrilla Task Force was organized in 2011 to help prevent the invasive plant hydrilla from spreading out of Cayuga Inlet in Ithaca. Hydrilla is a new invasive in New York’s waterways. It has choked the waterways of Florida and other states for the past 30 years, and many millions of dollars are spent annually to keep it from completely taking over marinas, swimming, navigation channels, and fishing areas. It can grow up to a foot a day, in flowing waters, up to 30 feet deep. Unlike other invasives, hydrilla does not become less problematic after a few years. Information and reports are available here: www.StopHydrilla.org

“So far, the eradication program at the south end of Cayuga Lake, in the Inlet and around Stewart Park, has been effective. But hydrilla could have drifted north with last summer’s big storms, and it could have been picked up and carried from an infested area on someone’s boat or trailer. We don’t want it to show up anywhere else along the lake. The key is to find it early – before it becomes a problem. Experts can remove it quickly, and expensive solutions (chemicals, etc) are not needed. Boaters also need to check their boats and trailers for hydrilla, before and after a day of boating.”

A packet of information and identification tools was included with this letter, along with a description of the simple tasks we are asking a town’s lakeshore hydrilla hunter coordinator to carry out, which boils down to: sharing information and handouts with neighbors along the lake.

So – the message to these town supervisors and to you, the reader, is: If you know of a person or group who could help, please contact me at steward@cayugalake.org  or leave a message at 607-319-0475. I will mail materials and meet with you to discuss the simple tasks of sharing information with neighbors and other lakeshore residents in your town. We pay all materials and postage costs. We hope to be present at several town community events – if you could help us with a tabling display at your town’s event, please let me know.

The Network is working with the Floating Classroom, which will be offering several free hydrilla i.d. training trips around the north end of Cayuga during July-September. Once local folks are trained by the Floating Classroom in hydrilla identification, we want them to join our Hydrilla Hunters with active eyes and willingness to share what you have learned with others, so that hydrilla won’t take over our lake. We also have an online site where data can be easily added and shared with others.

We are working cooperatively on hydrilla and other invasives issues with the Seneca County Soil and Water Conservation District Office and the Cayuga County Water Quality Management Agency, with your county’s Cooperative Extension experts, numerous other organizations, and with DEC.




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