HEUVELTON – Next week, volunteers will clear an infestation of an invasive plant species from the Oswegatchie River in the village of Heuvelton.
The water chestnut, Trapa natans, is a very aggressive invasive aquatic plant found in lakes, bays, canals and slow-moving rivers with muddy bottoms. The plant was likely introduced to North America as an ornamental due to its unique size and shape.
He found a home above and below the dam in the village of Heuvelton on the Oswegatchie River, infesting hundreds of acres of bay and river – smothering it from the sun, killing fish and other vegetation and making the river impassable by boats, even kayaks.
John F. Compo, vice president of the Black Lake Association, calls the introduction of water chestnuts to the Oswegatchie River an “epidemic” and the “greatest environmental challenge” the region has ever faced. The goal is to prevent it from spreading to Black Lake, the St. Lawrence River and any other bodies of water, he said.
“It’s the biggest threat the northern country has ever seen,” Compo said. “It’s the biggest environmental challenge we face, ever. It outperforms Eurasion Eurasian Watermilfoil 2 to 1, and 1 acre can turn into 100 in a year. Watermilfoil doesn’t do that.” water) can grow to depths of 16 feet, which would wipe out just about every locust and berry we have in this whole area, including a whole lot on the St. Lawrence if it got there.
Last year, 13 volunteers pulled the weeds by hand under the Heuvelton dam. This year, more than 100 volunteers are expected to take part in a massive operation on June 25 to remove several hundred hectares of water chestnuts infesting the waters upstream and downstream of the dam.
“The mass above the dam is way beyond hand pulling. You’re talking several hundred acres of water chestnuts,” Mr. Compo said. “We have three dedicated weeders, maybe up to ‘to five. We have four dump trucks arriving – two from the town of Morristown, one from the DPW village and one from Montroy’s Contracting. Montroy’s Contracting is also bringing a loader for the day with a driver, like the DPW village.’
Weed cutting machines will cut the water chestnuts, which will then be transported by boat to the village boat launch area where they will be loaded into dump trucks for transport to the old land. Deerfield golf course. Invasive plants will eventually be burned in July, Compo said.
Compo said the Ogdensburg Fire Department and volunteer rescue team will be on site. The Heuvelton Fire Department will provide food and beverages for volunteers. Volunteers include those from the Black Lake Association, Chippewa Bay Fish & Game Club, State Park Workers, St. Lawrence Waterfowlers, Save The River, St. Lawrence-Eastern Lake Ontario Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management, or SLELO PRISM, and others.
“We’re talking about over 100 volunteers who will be on site from various organizations,” Compo said.
Officials from Pulaski-based SLELO PRISM said the aquatic weed poses a significant threat to the ecology of the state’s waterways and requires significant resources for its annual management. Along with removing water chestnuts from waterways, the agency said the most effective way to prevent the spread is to follow a “clean, drain, dry” protocol for watercraft and equipment. .