by Kirsten Goranowski, FLI Watercraft Steward Program Assistant
The Finger Lakes Institute Watercraft Stewards got their hands a little dirty on Wednesday August 14th, at the Montezuma Audubon Center (MAC) in Savannah, NY. Located on Route 89, the Montezuma Audubon Center is a state-owned facility on 198 acres of land that is operated through an agreement between the NYSDEC and the National Audubon Society. It is a part of the Montezuma Wetlands Complex, which is a globally significant bird area that supports rest areas during migration, raising young and during breeding.
As part of their continued training and education through the Finger Lakes Institute Watercraft Steward Program, the stewards had the opportunity to physically handle Water Chestnut (Trapa natans) and help with Montezuma’s continued eradication efforts against this aquatic invasive plant. Venturing out into canoes, the Watercraft Stewards paddled the Seneca River around Howland’s Island and Haiti Island helping to remove approximately 4,800 pounds of Water Chestnut. They worked alongside staff members Wildlife Biologist Scott Stipetich, Montezuma Audubon Center Education Manager Chris Lajewski, and 19 other volunteers.
Introduced into the Finger Lakes region in the 50’s, hand-pulling volunteer efforts such as this one have proved to greatly reduce the amount of Water Chestnut across the Montezuma Wetlands Complex. If not controlled and maintained, invasive plants such as Water Chestnut have the ability to choke out waterways decreasing food and shelter availability for wildlife, and even hindering recreational activities including swimming, fishing, and boating.
This event was part of MARSH, Montezuma Alliance for the Restoration of Species & Habitats, a volunteer program through the Montezuma Wetlands Complex Project that is dedicated to controlling invasive species. It strives to work towards increasing native species, as invasive species are less beneficial and more harmful to Montezuma habitats.
Are you interested in getting involved and protecting Montezuma’s Wetlands Complex? These workdays are free and open to the public, but plan on getting a little dirty! View the following link for their upcoming volunteer events, and be sure to sign up in advance! There is plenty to do, so get involved!
For information about the Montezuma Audubon Center and their upcoming education programs, visit http://ny.audubon.org/montezuma.