SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Maria Trabka has seen the negative effects of water chestnut plants firsthand.
The invasive species clogged up narrow portions of the Poultney River, where she once worked, threatening animal life and preventing humans from enjoying the river.
Trabka, now the executive director of Saratoga PLAN, is teaming up with Kayak Shak on Fish Creek to make sure the species doesn’t infest the popular rowing creek that empties into Saratoga Lake.
The organizations will host their second annual kickoff to removing, or hand harvesting, the plant’s seeds on Saturday.
They are inviting kayakers to float by and help rid the creek of the invasive species, which negatively affects the area, from 8 to 11 a.m.
Floating water chestnut seeds can clog up waters, injure swimmers and animals with their sharp points, decrease plant growth and can even kill aquatic animals with low oxygen levels.
The plant’s seeds are beginning to spread rapidly and will finally settle in August. However, Saratoga PLAN and Kayak Shak are trying to keep that from happening by inviting locals to help pull the seeds out of the creek.
The seeds will continue to float on the surface of the water until August, when they will have already settled in. Mechanical harvesting machines cannot reach every seed, Trabka said, and can’t cover the narrow areas of the creek like kayakers can.
Participants should bring their own materials, such as a kayak or canoe, life jackets, protective gloves, sunscreen, hats, drinking water, and mosquito repellent. Volunteers who pre-register will also be able to use Kayak Shak boats, paddles and life jackets.
If you don’t know what the black, spiny seeds looks like, don’t worry. CapMo PRISM will hold a brief training on how to identify and harvest the plant at the creek right before the event.
“Without the help of volunteer paddlers, Fish Creek, a favorite paddling spot and the best example of a floodplain forest community in Saratoga County, would be choked and ruined for boaters, fish and other wildlife species using this beautiful natural shoreline,” Trabka said.
While Trabka isn’t exactly sure how many seeds volunteers collected last year, she estimates the number was somewhere in the thousands.
Unfortunately, harvesting thousands of seeds takes considerably longer than three hours.
Paddlers will pick additional days throughout July to continue harvesting before the plants officially set seed.
“Our goal is to raise awareness of the problems many waterways in the Northeast face with invasive [species], and spend a few hours with fellow water lovers protecting the creek,” said Lorraine Skibo, event organizer and Saratoga PLAN board member.
What: Fish Creek water chestnut seed removal
When: Saturday, June 29, 8 to 11 a.m.
Where: Kayak Shak, 251 County Road 67, Saratoga Springs
How: Pre-register with Michelle Hall at [email protected]