Local Lake and Watershed organizations have teamed up against the invasive species, starry stonewart, in Chautauqua Lake.
Starry stonewort can easily be mistaken for an aquatic plant at first glance. It first made its way to North America in 1974 via the St. Lawrence River. Since then it has spread to lakes across the Northeast.
The algae is identified by its thin grass-like branches, which grow in whorls around a central stem. Starry stonewort can appear green or brown in color, may be crunchy to the touch, and can be mistaken for native lookalikes like muskgrass. It can form dense stands in late-summer and early-fall, and can be difficult to detect before this growing season.
If left unaddressed, this invasive has the potential to spread to new areas of the lake, impede recreation, crowd out native plants and animals, and negatively impact game fish species.
Representatives from the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy, the Chautauqua Lake Association, the Alliance, Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Chautauqua-Conewango Consortium, and Audubon joined volunteers last month to try to remove starry stonewart from Ashville Bay.
The group performed manual removal with a variety of tools including rakes, screens, and baskets. After around four hours of work, the manual removal team had gathered approximately 12 large bags of starry stonewort, or approximately 750 pounds of material to be disposed.
Following the pilot removal, stakeholders are continuing to assess their findings, consult with outside experts, and collaborate to determine the best path forward to manage starry stonewort in the lake.
For more information, contact Twan Leenders at Twan@chautauquawatershed.org.
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