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(COOPERSTOWN)—Water chestnut and Japanese knotweed are being targeted by the Otsego County Conservation Association in two separate events as part of the fourth annual New York State Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW).

On July 9, OCCA will host a “Paddle and Pull” on Goodyear Lake in search of water chestnut (Trapa natans), an invasive plant from eastern Europe. Participants will meet at the New York State Fishing Access Site on Route 28 in Portlandville and head out into the ‘Stump Lot,’ the northernmost portion of the Lake. Any water chestnut plants found will be pulled by hand and composted. The event takes place from 1 to 3 p.m.

“Ten years ago, water chestnut covered several acres of the Stump Lot,” said Jeff O’Handley, OCCA’s program director. “Through the diligence of many volunteers, we’ve been able to reduce its population significantly.”

The plant forms floating mats of vegetation that shades out native plants. In late summer, it produces a nut with sharp spines that can cause injury if stepped on.

“If you want a guaranteed spot in one of our canoes, we need to hear from you in advance,” O’Handley said. “You could also meet us there with your own canoe or kayak.”

On July 11, OCCA will be “Digging Knotweed” from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at Mohican Farm in Springfield. Japanese knotweed grows in dense clumps and spreads rapidly, crowding out native vegetation.

“We’re hoping to find ways to control and eradicate this plant that doesn’t require herbicide,” said O’Handley.

Volunteers will spend the time cutting down knotweed plants, and digging roots out of the soil. All plant parts will be bagged and dried prior to disposal. Volunteers should bring their own gardening gloves and hand shovels or grubbing tools. Participants will meet at OCCA’s Mohican Farm office at 7207 State Highway 80 (corner of Allen Lake Road and Route 80) and walk across the street to the project site.

The mission of 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 help stop the spread.

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.

Participation in either event is free, but pre-registration is requested. To sign up for either event, either call O’Handley at (607) 282-4087, or use OCCA’s online program registration page (http://occainfo.org/program-and-event-sign-up-form/).

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.