Watercraft Stewards on Lake Ontario and Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith Colleges (FLI) has been awarded funding through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to coordinate and manage the Finger Lakes Region Aquatic Invertebrate Assessment and Invasive Species Prevention Project in partnership with Cayuga County beginning in May 2012. The project will determine which invasive invertebrates  and zooplankton are present in the Seneca River Basin and provide education and outreach  to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species among the Finger Lakes as well as the southern shore of Lake Ontario. Specific species of concern are Hydrilla, Asian clam, Chinese mystery snail, bloody red shrimp, zebra mussels, and quagga mussels.

As part of the project, the FLI will station eleven Watercraft Stewards at boat launches throughout  the seven eastern Finger Lakes and three southern Lake Ontario bays. The goal of the Finger Lakes Institute Watercraft Steward Program will be to provide education based on best practices for preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species. The stewards will be present at multiple NYS Park and DEC boat launches, including Sampson State Park, Seneca Lake State Park, Allen H. Treman State Park, Taughannock Falls State Park, Keuka Lake State Park, Canandaigua Lake State Park, as well as locations on Skaneateles Lake, Otisco Lake, Sodus Bay, Port Bay, and Little Sodus Bay, among others.

Boaters are encouraged to interact with the Stewards to learn more about the harmful impacts of aquatic invasive species and how to prevent their introduction and further spread. Boaters may be invited to complete a voluntary survey regarding their boating practices and knowledge of invasive species as well as participate in a boat inspection by the Steward. The inspections will be conducted to ensure boats and recreational equipment are clean of material that could lead to the potential transport of aquatic plants, invertebrates, and other organisms.

Through the FLI Watercraft Steward Program, boaters are encouraged to learn how to identify threatening invasive species and actively participate in the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force “Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers” campaign, which calls upon anglers, boaters, paddlers, SCUBA divers, waterfowl hunters and others to become informed about aquatic nuisance species and to follow simple preventative procedures every time they leave any body of water.

For questions regarding the FLI Watercraft Steward Program, contact Program Manager Jacob Schreiber at flisteward@hws.edu or visit the project’s regularly updated blog at https://flisteward.wordpress.com.

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