Environmental Emergency in Cayuga Inlet!

Extremely Agressive Invasive Species Found

In early August, staff from the Cayuga Lake Floating Classroom found hydrilla, a  previously unnoticed plant species growing in the mouth of Cascadilla Creek next to the Ithaca Farmers Market. Cornell plant scientist Robert L. Johnson confirmed with great alarm that it was Hydrilla verticillata, one of the most agressive invasive aquatic plants.  Hydrilla was previously unknown in New York State outside of a few isolated downstate ponds. This is the first record of this rapidly-growing aquatic weed in waterways connected to other waterways in New York, and it poses an ecological and economic threat to the entire region.

An August 29 survey of the Cayuga Inlet area turned up hydrilla growth in the areas indicated by the circles. (Courtesy of Holly Menninger)

If the growth of hydrilla in Cayuga Inlet is not controlled immediately, it will completely clog the Inlet in a year or two, and will likely spread to Cayuga Lake and probably beyond through the canal system. A team of scientists and other experts has come together to take action against this infestation before it would surely rage out of control.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County has more information about the hydrilla invasion on its website at ccetompkins.com.

In addition, we have produced a 15-minute video featuring an on-site explanation of the hydrilla outbreak by Holly Menninger, Coordinator of the New York Invasive Species Research Institute at Cornell. Holly explains the threat hydrilla presents, the urgency of the situation, what should be done to combat it, and what the rest of us can do, particularly if we own boats.

. Click on this photograph to launch the video.

Hydrilla growing in a large mat in the mouth of Cascadilla Creek where it joins Cayuga Inlet by the Ithaca Farmers Market. Picture taken from the Farmers Market pier. (Courtesy of Holly Menninger)