Invasive Plant Control
Water chestnut (Trapa natans) is an aquatic invasive plant that was discovered already well-established in Tonawanda Creek in Amherst, New York in 2008. The plant grows rooted to the bottom of slow-moving waters up to 16ft deep. It forms floating rosettes made of toothed, shiny, triangular leaves. Each rosette produces up to 20 spined seeds. These seeds are green when viable, can be very large, and have barbs along each spine. Once the seed drop to the sediment they can remain viable for many years.
The rosettes cover the surface of the water forming very dense mats and severely decrease the amount of sunlight penetrating the water column. Water chestnut successfully out-competes many native species and creates highly anoxic zones (areas with no oxygen) detrimental to many species, especially sport fish such as Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) and Smallmouth Bass (M. dolomieu). Dense mats formed by the rosettes prevent recreational use by swimmers, boaters, and fishermen. The spiny seeds are a potential hazard for puncture wounds to swimmers and pets using shallow areas.
A mechanical harvester was used in 2010 and 2011 to remove the plants in addition to large scale volunteer efforts to hand pull those plants the harvester could not reach. In subsequent years, persistent hand pulling has been sufficient, reducing the population significantly. The LGLFWCO continues to monitor a 14 mile stretch of the canal along with tributaries and rapidly respond to new sightings.
Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) is an aquatic invasive plant first discovered in western New York in September 2012. It was first introduced to the United States (Florida) in the 1960s. Hydrilla looks very similar to native elodea (Elodea canadensis). However, Hydrilla will form very dense beds and reduce or eliminate native species, including elodea, and interfere with recreational activities.
Hydrilla reproduces through tubers and fragmentation, allowing it to spread from an initial source point very quickly in flowing water. A single boat that drives through a bed of hydrilla will create hundreds if not thousands of fragments that could potentially start a new plant. LGLFWCO is part of a multi-agency task force working toward in the eradication of hydrilla from Tonawanda Creek. That task force is headed by the US Army Corp of Engineers and includes the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York State Canal Corp, LGLFWCO provides assistance with early detection, and monitoring before and after treatments. So far treatments have been very successful with greater than 90% control of the species.