Zoo volunteers help stop invasive species

Water Chestnut was first seen in the United States in 1859.  It is a fast growing aquatic annual that has a stem that can grow to 15 feet long. The stem has long fine roots that grab and hold on to mud very well.  On the surface a fast expanding rosette blocks the sun to other native plants below the surface.  Once established it can reduce oxygen levels increasing the chances of fish kill.

US Fish and Wildlife service has a group of employees that organize the pulling and disposal of water chestnut and other invasive species throughout the year.  Water chestnut has to be harvested before it seeds in order to keep spreading to a minimum.

On Tuesday, August 4, Seneca Park Zoo took part in a USFWS organized pull near Gibbs Marina.  A large mat of water chestnut had taken hold of a small area behind the Spirit of Rochester.  Volunteers took to canoes and kayaks to gently pull the stems out of the mud to remove the entire plant.

By lunchtime, around 30 bags were filled and hauled off for disposal, and the surrounding area had been canvased.  No other local populations were found, but invasive species are more and more of a threat.  Non-native plant and animal species threaten the balance of an ecosystem.

What can you do?

If you see an invasive, report it to:

Invasive Species Coordination Unit
Division of Lands & Forests
625 Broadway, 5th Fl
Albany, NY 12233-4756


New York Invasive Species Information
New York State PRISM


–Photos and blog by Tom Snyder, Director of Programming and Conservation Action