ITHACA, N.Y. — An infestation of the invasive aquatic plant hydrilla has been found in a marina next to Myers Park in Lansing. The discovery comes just before a fishing tournament taking place this weekend. Boaters in the tournament, and in general, are advised to carefully check for hydrilla to stop it from spreading.

The 2019 Barney and Bear’s Fall Trout and Bass Derby will take place from midnight Friday, Sept. 6 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 8. The hydrilla was found at the private marina maintained by Finger Lakes Marine Services, next to Myers Park in Lansing. The public marina, however, has been surveyed and appears to be hydrilla-free. All boaters are advised to only use the public marina.

“Fishing derbies are fast-paced, round-the-clock events, during which boats move quickly in and out of the water. This is, unfortunately, an ideal way for hydrilla to spread, if pieces of this highly invasive aquatic plant get caught on boats and their trailers. These are the main transport methods for hydrilla to be moved to other areas of Cayuga Lake, and to other lakes. This is the time of year when hydrilla is at its greatest extent – and can take root in new locations from these transported fragments,” the team said in a news release Friday.

A team of volunteers will be present throughout the derby to inform participants about the hydrilla. They have put out a call for “night owls who hate hydrilla” to help. Volunteers will talk to participants and inspect derby and non-derby boats entering and exiting the water for invasive species, including hydrilla. Want to learn more about volunteering? Contact Jenn at programs@cayugalake.org.

Hydrilla is considered one of the most aggressive aquatic plants in North America and was first discovered in the Cayuga Inlet in 2011 by a volunteer aboard the Floating Classroom. It spreads easily when fragments break off and attach to boats. Hydrilla is a very hardy plant and if left unchecked, it can mat over water and block sunlight and oxygen, harming native plants and organisms. Since it was discovered, the Hydrilla Task Force of Cayuga Lake has worked to monitor and eradicate the invasive plant.

The infestation in Myers Park area was first noted in late August by members of the Racine-Johnson Ecologists team, who monitor existing patches of hydrilla in the area. According to a news release, they found fragments throughout the marina area and well-established hydrilla in an adjacent, linked pond. The South End Cayuga Lake Hydrilla Task Force will meet Sept. 11 to discuss next steps for managing and removing the hydrilla infestation.

Hydrilla was also recently found about five miles south of Myers Park at the marina at the Cornell University Merrill Family Sailing Center. That area has been treated twice by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in addition to their treatment off the shore of Stewart Park and Don’s Marina near King Ferry.

Local residents removing their boats from the water for the season are urged to check their boats carefully for hydrilla. To learn more about identifying hydrilla, you can visit this website. You can also contact Jenn (programs@cayugalake.org) or Hilary (steward@cayugalake.org) at the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network. Learn more about hydrilla and efforts to eradicate it locally here.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.