Aquatic invasive species are frequently spread by recreational boaters and fishermen who inadvertently carry them from one water body to another on boats, trailers, and other equipment. They are also spread by commercial shipping, waterfowl and other wildlife. Invasive plant species have been found in nearly 500 water bodies in New York State.
In summer 2007, Otsego Lake was invaded by the zebra mussel – whose ill effects include ecological destabilization, damage to municipal, residential, and commercial intake pipes, production of sharp shells causing injury to recreational users of the lake, and emission of unpleasant odors. Once established, elimination of this mollusk is impossible, making control the best option.
The water chestnut has a stem which extends to the surface of the water and ends in a rosette of floating, saw-toothed leaves. The plant bears a spiky fruit, which can pierce tennis shoes and thick-soled boots. In addition, water chestnuts can clog pipes, canals and waterways and adversely affect the environment by removing oxygen from the water and out competing native vegetation. OCCA has spearheaded a manual eradication effort of the water chestnut on Goodyear Lake.
A free-floating plant of still and slow moving waters, European frog-bit can quickly form dense mats that block sunlight and alter aquatic ecosystems. European frog-bit can be recognized by its round or heart-shaped, leathery green leaves, which are just 1-2″ across. Rosettes of leaves arise from a node on an underwater runner called a stolon. Stolons can grow to several feet long and have multiple rosettes arising from them. In mid-summer, the plant produces small flowers with three white petals surrounding a yellow center. In late summer, the plant produces vegetative buds called turions that fall to the bottom and produce new plants the following year.
New York State has drafted a Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan that outlines objectives, actions and strategies that the state is taking to help control the spread of aquatic invasive species. For more information on how you can help stop the spread, see NYS Department of Environmental Conservation prevention page.