In a first for WNY PRISM, we welcomed two boat stewards, Morgan Beatey and Parker Everhart, to our seasonal summer crew. Boat stewards are dedicated to stopping the spread of aquatic invasive species on recreational watercraft. Throughout the summer our boat stewards interacted with boaters, anglers and other recreational water users to raise awareness of invasive species. They also taught boaters how to clean, drain and dry their watercraft to prevent spreading invasive species. Parker Everhart spent his time this summer staffing the boat launch at Cuba Lake – keep reading to find out how he spent his time.
Life as a Boat Steward
By Parker Everhart
Cuba Lake is a quaint little lake situated on the western edge of Allegany County. The lake is almost entirely surrounded by cabins with the exception of a stream entrance and exit, and a dam on the southeast portion of the lake. The lake also has a large number of docks and recreational boating is extremely popular.
Whenever boaters arrived at the dock from either the land or the water, I’d begin my well-practiced speech about invasive species and what they can do to stop their spread, but from there, it was always a new and unique interaction. They all had one thing in common though, the boaters were always eager to learn about invasive species and cooperative with my surveys and inspections. I’d frequently get comments on the abundant weed population of the lake, a consequence of its nutrient rich waters. Despite the lake association’s use of a harvester at least once a week, boats would frequently leave the water with a green mass tangled around the propeller. This presented an opportunity to teach how invasive species can be transported, but thankfully, the two aquatic invasive species in Cuba Lake, Eurasian watermilfoil and curly leaf pondweed, are in low concentrations and were rarely seen on watercraft.
When the docks were quiet, the section of lake I patrolled offered me numerous opportunities for wildlife viewing. Nearby milkweed attracted many butterflies including white sulfurs, monarchs and swallowtails while blackberries provided food for several species of bird as well as myself. I observed a whitetail doe and fawn several mornings in the field adjacent to the launch. Families of American black and mallards frequently came to sit next to me in my shady spot. Blue herons stalking the shallows for minnow species were a common sight while on one special occasion, I observed a mink swimming across the water.
Though my many hours sitting alongside Cuba Lake probably won’t save the world, I do think that my time with WNY PRISM made a difference, maybe preventing new infestations of curly leaf pondweed or Eurasian watermilfoil in nearby Lime or Rushford Lakes, or maybe even further into Pennsylvania. My summer spent outside was certainly memorable and hopefully, I’ll be able to continue my work with invasive species, but for now, I’ll just remind people to always Clean, Drain, Dry!