Press-Republican

June 10, 2013

Invasive-species workshops help identify unwanted visitors

By JEFF MEYERS
Press-Republican

---- — KEENE VALLEY — Residents across the Adirondacks can take a proactive stand against invasive aquatic species with help from upcoming workshops.

The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program will host its annual volunteer training sessions in aquatic invasive plant identification and survey techniques at three locations later this month.

“This is an enormous park,” said Meghan Johnstone, aquatic invasive-species coordinator for the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program.

“There are only a few of us (employed staff members) and only so much we can possibly do in a summer. We really rely on volunteers to help” search for new aquatic invaders.

12 YEARS OF STUDY

Nearly 600 Adirondack Park residents have put in more than 6,500 hours to survey 300 water bodies across the park.

Their efforts during the 12-year program have helped establish a baseline to better understand the distribution of infected waters.

“People living in the park care about the water bodies they live on,” Johnstone said.

“They want to be more active (in controlling invasive species). This program helps them play a role to protect their lakes and ponds from aquatic invaders.”

FLEXIBILITY

Workshop participants will obtain skills to help identify plants and animals that should not be in a particular body of water. Then, volunteers can begin surveying water bodies in search of unwanted invaders.

“Volunteers can select a water body they’re specifically interested in monitoring, or we can select a water body for them to monitor,” said Johnstone, who noted that 98 volunteers participated in 2012, the highest number the program has seen in one year.

“A volunteer can take one day or spend as much time needed” for the survey, she added.

“They will report back to us at the end of the season, and if they do find something, we can help set up a management plan for dealing with new invaders.”

INFESTATIONS

At least 88 Adirondack lakes and ponds are infested with invasive aquatic plants or animals, including Eurasian watermilfoil, water chestnuts, spiny waterfleas and Asian clams.

Officials are concerned that new species, such as hydrilla, are posed to enter the Adirondacks as well.

Invasive species are often spread from one area to another by “hitchhiking” on boats, gear and trailers. Plant fragments are easily spread from one water body to another — and from those pieces, new infestations spread rapidly.

For instance, volunteers identified Eurasian watermilfoil for the first time in Little Colby Pond in the central Adirondacks in 2012. That sighting was not a major surprise because milfoil had previously been detected in nearby Lake Colby, Johnstone noted.

If new infestations are identified early, rapid response can help eradicate the invader before it spreads to a point where it can only be managed and not removed from a pond or lake, she added.

WORKSHOP SITES

The workshops are free and open to the public, and all sessions run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The first will be held June 20 at the Darrin Fresh Water Institute in Bolton Landing.

Paul Smith’s College in Paul Smiths will host the second workshop on June 25.

Raquette Lake School will be the site of the third workshop on June 27.

Only a few seats remain for the Paul Smith’s College session. Anyone interested in attending should RSVP by June 13.

Email Jeff Meyers:jmeyers@pressrepublican.com

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TO SIGN UP

To register for an upcoming workshop on volunteer training sessions for identifying invasive aquatic species, contact Meghan Johnstone at 576-2082, Ext. 119, or by email at mjohnstone@tnc.org by Thursday.

Returning volunteers, new volunteers or individuals interested in learning about aquatic plants are encouraged to attend.