Updated 07/03/2012 06:12 PM
Schumer planning to fight hydrilla
Hydrilla is an invasive aquatic plant that not only grows rapidly but can be extremely detrimental to the body of water it lives in. The plant has been found in the Cayuga Lake inlet. As our Bill Mich tells us, Senator Charles Schumer is bringing together some top environmental minds to ensure it does not spread throughout the Finger Lakes.
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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Currently, environmental officials in Tompkins County are trying to remove the invasive hydrilla plant from the Cayuga Lake Inlet. They have jumped on the problem as early as possible.
"Florida let the hydrilla, didn't go after it in the beginning. It went undressed. They pay now $30 million a year to deal with hydrilla," said Senator Charles Schumer.
Schumer brought together some top environmental minds in Watkins Glen Tuesday to come up with a plan to stop the species from spreading throughout the Finger Lakes. Those ideas include different treatments and public education on the aquatic plant. Hydrilla can grow up to a foot a day and wreak havoc on the body of water it is in.
"Once it takes over, no other plants can be there. It is directly detrimental to other animals because it drops the oxygen levels and so the fish would either be stressed or killed or they'll leave," said Roxanna Johnston, the Watershed Coordinator for the City of Ithaca.
And stopping the invasive species is not only crucial for the ecosystem but for the economy as well. Hydrilla can obstruct boating, fishing and swimming which would have a huge negative impact on tourism in the Finger Lakes.
"That's one of the things that started people coming here in the first place was the lake. And because of the lake effect weather that we have here, that's why our wineries do so well. So if you don't have a lake here to drive everything, then our economy starts to dry up," said Nikita Hairston of the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce.
It will take five to eight years to remove the hydrilla from the inlet, at a cost of about a million dollars a year. Schumer says he will work with the state and federal governments to try and cover some of the cost.
"The damage that hydrilla would do would be so bad that if it costs a little more to be extra safe, I'm willing to go to bat for that extra money," Schumer said.
It is an all hands on deck approach to keep the lakes safe from this unwanted guest.