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Wiping Out Water Chestnut – We’re leaving this Pest in the Past!

European water chestnut (Trapa natans) was first detected at the Jamestown Audubon Community Nature Center (ACNC) in 2008. This invasive plant outcompetes native, aquatic vegetation, shades the pond bottom, and lowers the overall quality of the habitat. Many of the ponds within ACNC’s 600-acre wetland preserve were impacted and some completely inundated. Understanding the threat, ACNC took action planning and implementing water chestnut removal from the property.

The once grim outlook has reversed thanks to years of dedicated volunteers and staff members who have been actively managing water chestnut since 2013. In past years, the water chestnut crew and volunteers could barely move a few feet in the pond before they filled up kayaks and jet boats with harvested water chestnut.

Returning for a fifth year, WNY PRISM assisted with ACNC’s manual removal on June 21 and June 22. WNY PRISM Invasive Species Management Assistants and Project Manager (Crew) waded through the entirety of Big Pond looking for water chestnut plants which were few and far between.


Project Manager, Lucy Nuessle, manually removing water chestnut. Photo Credit: WNY PRISM

The WNY PRISM Crew had fun out on the water. We were happy to see fish and turtles swimming beneath us, and to see both red-winged blackbirds and soras nesting in and around the ponds. Without seeing this project in previous years, it was hard for us to truly imagine the nearly 100% water chestnut cover in years past. But the results are clear because there are fewer and fewer plants each year.

The success of this project reaches further than just the ponds within ACNC. Not only has the infestation been controlled, but efforts have improved regional awareness of this species and prevented the spread of water chestnut to other waterways in the region, including Conewango Creek and Chautauqua Lake. WNY PRISM is proud to continue work with ACNC on this project!

If you’re interested in volunteering or learning more, you can contact Tiffany Donaldson, ACNC Water Chestnut Coordinator at waterchestnut@auduboncnc.org.

Audubon Community Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown, New York, and Warren, Pennsylvania. To learn more, call (716) 569-2345 or visit auduboncnc.org.


This article was written by Julia Kostin, 2018 Invasive Species Management Assistant.