In May, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded $516,367 to the Finger Lakes Institute (FLI) at Hobart and William Smith Colleges for water chestnut control in the Finger Lakes.
Water chestnut (Trapa natans) is so prolific that one acre can produce 100 acres from one year to the next. In 2015, the FLI-based Finger Lakes-Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (FL-PRISM) — along with local, state and federal partners — pulled an estimated six tons of water chestnut from the Braddock Bay wildlife management area, while new populations were discovered in the Genesee River and Cayuga Lake.
As part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), the funds from the EPA will be used to remove the invasive plant from 12 known locations in the Finger Lakes through hand pulling, mechanical harvest, and treatment, while surveying for new infestations. The award will also fund K-12 experiential learning opportunities focused on aquatic invasive species; training for an adopt-a-shoreline model to monitor for water chestnut; and community education focused on the negative impacts of water chestnut and other aquatic invasive species.
“FL-PRISM is thrilled to be receiving funds to help remove water chestnut from our region,” says Hilary Mosher, coordinator of FL-PRISM. “We look forward to working with our partners and encourage others to seek and destroy the plant when encountered. The EPA GLRI funds provide the capacity for our program to address the issue of water chestnut and the impact on the Great Lakes Basin. We are grateful to the EPA for funding this worthwhile project.”
Lisa Cleckner, director of the FLI, is looking forward to the additional support for programs addressing aquatic invasive species in the Finger Lakes.
“We know that the arrival and continued presence of aquatic invasive species affect fundamental ecological processes in the lakes including nutrient cycling and habitat changes, which then impact biological communities including fish and recreational opportunities,” Cleckner says. “Given that the water quality of the Finger Lakes is inextricably linked to the economics of the region, it is important to have resources and programming for activities targeting prevention, education, and early detection of invasive species including water chestnut.”
Fred Blom, former New York BASS Nation President and an instrumental force in the 2015 eradication program in Braddock Bay, says NYS BASS “looks forward to continuing our partnership and will support the various activities and programs that this funding will make possible with the goal of clearing our waterways and marshes of this pervasive, non-native aquatic plant.”
New York received $1.5 million in funding to address invasive species in the Great Lakes allocated among 31 grant recipients through the GLRI.