Monday, September 01, 2014

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Water stewards aid in the battle against hydrilla

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Water stewards aid in the battle against hydrilla
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Officials are battling an invasive plant that's taken root in Cayuga Lake, and while chemicals are working to kill off the plant, that may not be enough to stop it from spreading. YNN's Tamara Lindstrom tells us how one group is working to stop hydrilla from invading other waters.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- While herbicides work at the bottom of Cayuga Lake to knock out the fast growing hydrilla plant, the $230,000 treatment won't stop the invasion alone.

"The only money we have actually secured right now is federal money that came from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through the Fish and Wildlife Service. So we have the money to do the treatments, we don't have money for the monitoring. We don't have a lot of money for outreach right now," explained Craig Schutt, Tompkins County Soil and Water Conservation.

It is people, mainly boaters, who have the power to either spread or stop the plant.

"Educating people about it. Telling them how to clean their boats, making sure their boats are clean before they go in, and make sure they clean them once they come out," said Schutt.

Signs have been posted near boat launches to help educate people about the spread of hydrilla. But there is one group who is taking the message a step further.

"We visually inspect each boater when they launch, as well as when they receive. Because a lot of boaters come from different lakes, they like to bounce from lake to lake, so we don't want them to spread the aquatic species," said Daniel Munsell, watercraft steward.

That is why the Finger Lakes Institute has posted watercraft stewards to help educate boaters about the dangers of invasive plants.

"I also tell them to drain the boat, because that's a major thing. You have to drain your boat as well. And if they're fisherman, check their live wells because they can transport through their live wells as well," explained Munsell.

The Wells College student has found curly leaf pondweed, Eurasian water millfoil, and zebra mussels on boats and trailers this summer, all of which are invasive species. But he said boaters are happy to comply.

"Each person I've asked has let me inspect it, and they're very happy that we're doing it," said Munsell. "It takes not just a few of us to solve this problem. It really takes everyone to work together to completely solve the spread of invasive species."

A mission that is achieved one boat at a time.

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