It's disturbing enough that water chestnuts and hydrilla are a threat to Chautauqua Lake.
Hydrilla was found in Tonawanda Creek, less than 80 miles from Chautauqua County, last summer. The water chestnut invaded Chautauqua Lake last summer and has now been found on the Jamestown Audubon Society's Big Pond.
As we learned last year, the water chestnut is a particularly nasty plant that, as it spreads, can end up covering a body of water like a blanket. Hydrilla, meanwhile, is described as eurasian milfoil on steroids - and we all know the problems eurasian milfoil cause in parts of Chautauqua Lake already.
County officials hosted a news conference Monday at Hogan's Hut in Stow to ask boaters, anglers and other lake users to look for water chestnuts and hydrilla on Chautauqua Lake. Neither plant has been spotted in Chautauqua Lake this year.
"We need the help of people in and around Chautauqua Lake, volunteers, those who are getting out there and enjoying the waterways, to know what water chestnut plants are, to know what hydrilla are, and what to do with that," said County Executive Greg Edwards.
This effort needs to go further than just Chautauqua Lake users - especially now that water chestnuts have now been found on the Audubon's property on Riverside Road in Kiantone. Audubon is working to eradicate the plant by hiring Amy Noga, a water chestnut specialist, after receiving grant funding from the county Industrial Development Agency and Audubon New York. The Audubon is also looking for volunteers to participate in water chestnut pulls in the coming weeks. Training will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday and 6:30 p.m. Monday. The first pull will be from 8 a.m. to noon June 15.
A pamphlet with information about water chestnuts and hydrilla have been posted online with this editorial at www.post-journal.com. Anyone who fishes on a stream in Chautauqua County or who spends time boating on any of the region's lakes should be on the lookout for both plants.
Chautauqua County's watersheds - all of them - are too important to the county ecologically and economically to let invasive species take them over. County officials have a plan once the plants have been spotted on one of our watersheds - they just need your help doing the spotting.