COOPERSTOWN–Otsego County Conservation Association will be observing New York State’s Third Annual Invasive Species Awareness Week with two activities during the week of July 10.
The mission of New York State’s Invasive Species Awareness Week is to promote knowledge and understanding of invasive species and the harm they can cause by engaging citizens in a wide range of activities across the state, and empowering them to take action to stop the invasion.
On Sunday, July 10, OCCA hosts “Paddle and Pull” at Goodyear Lake. Participants will canoe around the upper portion of Goodyear Lake—known as the Stump Lot—in search of water chestnuts and other invasive species, and will hand-pull any water chestnuts found.
“Water chestnut is disruptive to aquatic ecosystems,” said Jeff O’Handley, OCCA’s interim executive director and the program leader. “The nuts are also extremely painful if stepped on.”
OCCA has been working with volunteers from the Goodyear Lake Association and the community at large for more than ten years in an effort to eradicate water chestnuts from the lake without using herbicides, O’Handley said.
Participants will meet at 3 p.m. at the New York State Fishing Access Site on State Route 28 in Portlandville. Participation is free, but pre-registration is required to reserve space in one of OCCA’s canoes.
For landlubbers, OCCA is “Digging Knotweed” at Mohican Farm in Springfield on July 13 at 5 p.m. in an attempt to get an infestation under control.
“Japanese knotweed is an extremely aggressive plant that is turning up all over the county,” O’Handley said.
The plant, whose stem resembles bamboo, grows in dense clumps that kill off underlying vegetation and can cause soil erosion.
“Japanese knotweed is so difficult to control because it can spread from very small fragments,” O’Handley said. “We’ll be cutting and bagging the plants and very carefully digging up the roots.”
Participants will meet at OCCA’s office, located at 7207 State Highway 80 at 5 p.m. and will walk across the street to the project site.
“Bring pruners, a mattock, or gardening trowel and be prepared to get dirty,” O’Handley said.
Invasive species are organisms that are not native to an area and cause or are likely to cause harm to the environment, the economy, or human health. It is estimated that invasive species cost the United States more than $120 billion in damage each year.
To participate in either program, contact O’Handley at (607) 547-4488, or register online at http://occainfo.org/program-and-event-sign-up-form/
These programs are the latest in OCCA’s invasive species education and control efforts, which have included water chestnut pulling, funding for boat inspectors, zebra mussel research, and last year’s “Clean, Drain, and Dry” public education campaign. Recently, OCCA, working with multiple partners in Otsego County, received a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention Grant, which provides funds for boat inspections at three boat launches in the region, as well as the establishment of two boat decontamination stations in the county.
Founded in 1968, OCCA is a private, non-profit membership group dedicated to promoting the appreciation and sustainable use of Otsego County’s natural resources through education, advocacy, resource management, research, and planning. For more information on OCCA, or to donate, visit www.occainfo.org