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Montezuma volunteers tackle invasive water chestnuts

Volunteer crews have been busy again this summer removing an invasive pest from the Montezuma wetlands area that comprises the Montezuma Audubon Center, the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, and land owned by the Nature Conservancy.

What are water chestnuts?

Montezuma Audubon Center Director Chris Lajewski says thousands of pounds of water chestnuts have been pulled, especially around Howland’s Island, a popular canoe and kayak spot. He says they grow fast, and it takes a lot of work to keep them under control.

Water chestnut was introduced to North America in the late 1870s, and by the 1950s had spread to the Finger Lakes. The plant’s triangular leaves float on the surface, blocking the sun and making it difficult for native plants to thrive. It can quickly grow so thick it chokes off rivers, streams, and lakes.

Related: Aquatic invasive species threaten the Finger Lakes ecosystem: “We’ve got to stop the spread”

How can I help?

While Lajewski welcomes the volunteer help, he has a word of caution for potential do-it-yourself water chestnut warriors.

There are also volunteer opportunities at the Montezuma Audubon Center for people to greet visitors and care for the center’s reptiles and amphibians.

2021 Mac Volunteer Job Descriptions by Ted Baker on Scribd

Watch my full Inside the FLX conversation with Chris Lajewski below.

Related: DEC joins Great Lakes, Northeast states and Canadian provinces to announces annual Aquatic Invasive Species Landing Blitz July 1 through July 10