STOW, N.Y. - Chautauqua County officials urged residents and visitors Monday to look for two invasive aquatic plant species at Chautauqua Lake this summer, both of which could potentially kill fish and lower oxygen levels in the lake if allowed to spread.
The two species, named water chestnut and Hydrilla, can spread rapidly if not contained, according to County Executive Greg Edwards. A press release issued by the county said local businesses near the lake would receive flyers to warn people and help them identify the two harmful species.
"They could pose a potential threat to the Lake if they are left to grow and are not properly eradicated," Edwards said in the release.
The fear of water chestnut stems from the discovery of the plant at Chautauqua Lake last summer, which prompted the county to call on 50 volunteers to stop the species from spreading. There was no presence of Hydrilla at that lake last summer, but Watershed Coordinator Jeff Diers said in the press release it did infest Tonawanda Creek last summer fewer than 80 miles away.
Diers said Hydrilla is "considered by many experts to be one of the worst invasive aquatics species in the world." The effects of Hydrilla and water chestnut can also stunt recreational activities on the lake, like swimming and boating.
If anyone at Chautauqua Lake finds either plant species, county officials urge them not to remove the plants themselves. Instead, they would like them to contact Diers at 716-661-8915 to make an official report.