The Jamestown Audubon Society and the county Planning and Economic Development Department are taking on an effort to minimize the spread of water chestnut, an invasive, non-native aquatic plant that has taken a foothold in the Big Pond at the Audubon sanctuary on Riverside Road in Kiantone.
The ponds and lakes of Chautauqua County are threatened if it spreads. During the winter, Audubon's Land Use Management Committee developed a plan, but did not have the personnel to successfully launch it. Funding from the county Industrial Development Agency and a grant from Audubon New York made it possible to hire a water chestnut specialist, Amy Noga, to undertake the extensive project.
"This is a project different from anything we have researched," said Ruth Lundin, Jamestown Audubon Society president. "We are working to control this plant using a series of measures that have not been tried on such a scale, including lowering the water level of Big Pond. Our goal is that no water chestnut flowers set seed this year."
Starting on Saturday, Jamestown Audubon will be having a series of chestnut pulling days. It is a huge undertaking, requiring scores of volunteers. Audubon is calling upon anyone who loves a pond or lake in Chautauqua County to participate, and consider putting together a team that will adopt an area of Big Pond to keep it clear of water chestnut.
Jeff Diers, county watershed coordinator, is working with the society in the effort.
"This is important to all the area waterways, so we need to launch an effort similar to that accomplished last year when we found water chestnuts in Chautauqua Lake. We are hoping service clubs, church groups, youth groups, and families will commit to working three or four times over the summer on designated areas to pull out any flowering water chestnuts," Diers said.
The first pull will be Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. It will start with an orientation on the best ways to pull water chestnut and will end with a lunch where everyone will report back with their results.
Any groups wanting more information or to sign up should call Jamestown Audubon at 569-2345 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Reservations are needed so there are enough tools and food.
"We are very excited to have a water chestnut specialist to lead this effort," Diers said. "Amy has worked as an environmental educator and naturalist guide at Allegany State Park and Pfeiffer Nature Center in addition to teaching and developing several college courses in the natural sciences. She enjoys educating people of all ages about the importance of conservation of species and the natural environment in hopes of making science relatable to all people and has particular interest in bringing volunteers and other groups of people together to work toward solutions for topics of common environmental concern."