Finally got water chestnut out of 4th lake before it went to seed - BlueStone Press
September 29, 2020

Finally got water chestnut out of 4th lake before it went to seed

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Invasive Japanese water chestnuts have spread along the Hudson River and are now being carried into our lakes and streams by sticking their needle-like thorns into boats.

In some waterways, boats must be washed off before allowed entry. These weeds choke out native life rapidly. Each spikey pod sends up three shoots. If one gets broken, another shoot is sent up a month later. If a piece of the stem breaks off, the tip sprouts again. If roots float away, they also blossom. The full-grown shoot becomes a succulent 14-inch round plant that is actually quite beautiful –the reason it was originally imported for backyard ponds.

In 2016, Sheila Dixon, a homeowner on Binnewater Rd. near the boat launch, noticed the water chestnuts. They had already expanded into a pretty big patch. Dixon called up people she knew that enjoyed the lake to enlist them in weed pulling. A team came and pulled weeds at least once a week since mid-June, up to 3-4 hours with 3-6 people. Every year time ran out, and they went to seed before all the weeds could be removed. The bad thing about that is once the seeds are released to sink to the bottom, they remain viable for 12 years.

The weed-pulling team has grown to include a wide range of skill sets and age, all sharing the one common goal: Get these weeds out of 4th lake! We paddle around in canoe or kayak, and the weed must be pulled up by the root. Sometimes they break off, and sometimes come out like a roll of sod, the entangled roots pulling up its neighbor. We generally collect enough weeds to fill 9-12 wheelbarrows that have to be hauled away.

The team has included Sheila Dixon, a retired water chemist, Miriam Patton, retired music teacher, Susan Dorsey, owner of Rosendale Café, Kathleen Mandeville. event producer (Ignivox), Maureen Morrow, microbiology professor at SUNY New Paltz, Ruth Wetzel, artist and art teacher at Middletown High School, Bob Van Steen, retired firefighter, and Amber Kelly, reporter. This year started in mid-June. It is the earliest in the season the group started pulling weeds.

On July 7, a group was pulling weeds when two canoes came with staff from AmeriCorps to survey the lake for invasive species. The next week a group from PRISM showed up, and pulled weeds one day for 4 hours. “The big patch was getting smaller,” the group said,

The PRISM staff said they got paid a living stipend to do this kind of work. PRISM stands for Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management. They said they would be back but didn't come, so the group went again July 22 and finished the big patch. The group will continue to monitor the waterway of 4th lake on Binnewater Road for future boating and swimming pleasure.

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