Audubon Needs Water Chestnut Pullers

On a recent Saturday, dozens of volunteers worked hard to begin removing water chestnut, an invasive, non-native aquatic plant that has taken a foothold in the Big Pond at the Audubon Center & Sanctuary.

That was the first of a series of “Chestnut Pulling” days, an undertaking that requires scores of volunteers.

“Audubon is calling upon anyone who loves a pond or lake in Chautauqua County or the Conewango watershed of Pennsylvania to participate and consider putting together a team that will ‘adopt’ an area of Big Pond to keep it clear of water chestnut,” said Ruth Lundin, Audubon president. “We have had a great start, but so much remains to do.”

Group pulls will be held every Tuesday until the end of July from 9 a.m. to noon. Wednesday pulls will be 5-8 p.m. and Sundays pulls will be 2-5 p.m. They will begin with an orientation on the best ways to pull water chestnut.

The next Big Pull will be on Saturday, July 13, from 8:30 a.m. to noon. It will end with a lunch where everyone will report back with their results. Call the Jamestown Audubon Center and Sanctuary at 569-2345 or email waterchestnuts@jamestownaudubon.org to sign up. Reservations are needed to have enough tools and food.

Service clubs, church groups, youth groups, and families are especially encouraged to participate.

Water chestnut is a fast-growing, floating annual herb that forms large mats that shade out native aquatic vegetation. It reduces oxygen levels for fish and encourages sedimentation by restricting silt movement. Native to southern Europe and Asia, it is not the same species used in Asian cooking.

The Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency has made it possible to hire a water chestnut specialist, Amy Noga, to undertake the project. She will implement the plan developed by Audubon’s Land Use Management Committee to attack the problem. The effort is also being supported by a grant from Audubon New York.

The Audubon Center and Sanctuary is at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown and Warren.

For more information, call 569-2345 or visit jamestownaudubon.org.