WHY do we need to remove Water Chestnuts from Sodus Bay?

Water chestnuts are one of the invasive species on Sodus Bay. They grow rapidly and can out-compete native aquatic vegetation. When they are allowed to grow, they can form impenetrable floating mats of vegetation.  These mats not only create a hazard for boaters but also can severely limit light penetration into the water and reduce or eliminate the growth of native aquatic plants beneath the canopy. The reduced plant growth combined with the decomposition of the water chestnut plants (which die back each year) can result in reduced levels of dissolved oxygen in the water, impact other aquatic organisms, and potentially lead to fish kills.

What has been done to curb Water Chestnuts growth in Sodus Bay?

Since 2012 (and before) Wayne County Soil and Water District, the Finger Lakes Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM), Save Our Sodus and other organizations have been pulling available resources (harvesters and operators), as well as canoe and kayak crews and volunteers for hand-pull harvesting of Water Chestnuts. That approach led to noticeable improvements and a noticeable reduction of Water Chestnuts in the Bay.

Usually, harvesting took place in late July – early August. Last year volunteers participated in 2 harvesting operations on July 23 and July 30th around Emerald Point of the Second Creek, Clark Creek and South of the Bay Bridge.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Volunteers Hank and Mary Stuart unloaded a pile of water chestnuts to a seaweed harvesting machine near Second Creek. July 23, 2016.

What has been done this year?

This year’s flood affected the annual water-chestnut cleanup efforts, but some work was done in spite of the challenges.

The highest water chestnuts concentration in Sodus Bay is on the South side of Sodus Bay Bridge.

That’s where most of the cleanup work has been performed in August of 2017 in order to reduce the generational invasion further into Sodus Bay.
NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s (NYSDEC) Division of Habitat and Regional Permits have been working with the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District on a European Water Chestnut Management plan for this area of the Lake Shore Marshes. The plan includes invasive species control, fisheries monitoring and wetland habitat creation.
The entire area is not being clear cut. The areas that are along the reed land areas do not have concentration and are being left natural. NYSDEC has inspected the work. The District has been inspecting and documenting the plant matter of the collected loads.

Click on the image to enlarge

It is a unique process that is designed to reduce the amount of water chestnuts and the seed bank in the Bay.
It will take years to implement the variety of approaches outlined in the process, but we expect to see a positive impact on the environment, oxygen levels in the water and overall water quality.
The unusual water levels have given us the opportunity to try out this new process. It will help us better understand what is needed to be able to continue this harvesting approach for a short specific period each year.
By the end of September, a more detailed report explaining what was managed and accomplished will be prepared by the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Invasive Species that THREATEN Sodus Bay

The worst of the Flood of 2017 is over for Sodus Bay and its community. The residents and businesses still have a lot of issues to deal with. Save Our Sodus’ President Dave McDowell, a local resident, answers some of the frequently asked questions in the videos below.

“When is the water going to go down in Sodus Bay?”

“Are we going to have a blue-green algae bloom this year?”

“When is Idle Only restriction on Sodus Bay will be removed?”

On July 25th, Saturday,  15 volunteers from SOS, Wayne County Soil & Water from  Hilary Mosher’s team paddled to the Second Creek to harvest water chestnuts, an invasive specie to Sodus Bay.
For those that don’t know – Hillary Mosher is Director of the Finger Lakes Institute in Geneva. She is also chairperson of the Finger Lakes Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM).  As such she is charged with finding and eradicating all invasive species in the region. She has a very small budget and relies on groups like Save Our Sodus to get things done.
Some volunteers have been doing it a number of years. Based on their observation, this year’s harvest wasn’t as bountiful as in the previous years – WHICH IS A GREAT THING!
The weather was sunny, albeit a bit windy. The water was warm and everybody had a lot of fun pulling out water chestnuts.
 Beautiful Water lilies, Pickerel weed, and small white flowers that looked like aquatic violets cheered our volunteers.

Some photos from that expedition are below. You can click them to enlarge.

Our next pull is at the Sodus Bay Bridge.

Please COME on July 30th  from 9 a.m. till noon. Bring sun-tan lotion and a FRIEND!

We need your help at the Sodus Bay Annual Water Chestnut Pull

Please join other volunteers at our Sodus Bay Annual Water Chestnut Hand Pull which takes place on

TWO DATES:   July 23d and July 30th  9 a.m. – noon;


  • Emerald Point of the Second Creek (July 23d); 
  • Clark Creek & Spiegel Drive  (July 23d)
  • Sodus Bay at the Bay Bridge (July 30th)

Please help remove this invasive species from Sodus Bay - Come and BRING FRIENDS!

SOS Board member Dan McCullough harvested 6 bags of immature water chestnuts at the old trestle marina last week. This site will need to be revisited later this month as some weeds were inaccessible due to docks and large boats. Dan did a lot of outreach with boaters.  We will provide them with some invasive species materials at that visit so that they know what they’re looking at!

  • WHAT

    Sodus Bay Annual Water Chestnut Pull –

    Each year volunteers help with a water chestnut hand-pull harvest. In July helpers turn out in canoes and kayaks

  • WHY

    The water chestnut is an invasive plant that can clog waterways, cause fish kills, tangle up boats and lower the value of shoreline property. To help with the effort to control aquatic invasive species we pull them out because these plants grow very rapidly and if not managed, they out-compete native aquatic vegetation and form impenetrable floating mats on water surace.

    These mats create a hazard for boaters. The density of the mats can severely limit light penetration into the water and reduce or eliminate the growth of native aquatic plants beneath the canopy.

    The reduced plant growth combined with the decomposition of the water chestnut plants which die back each year can result in reduced levels of dissolved oxygen in the water, impact other aquatic organisms, and potentially lead to fish kills.

    Another effect of dense populations of water chestnut is the migration of small fish from under the canopy to the edges of the vegetative mat. That in turn leads to concentration of larger game fish attracted to the veritable “smorgasbord” at the fringe.

  • WHEN

    July 23, SATURDAY – from 9 a.m. till noon  – Emerald Point of the Second Creek 

    July 23, SATURDAY – from 9 a.m. till noon – Clark Creek & Spiegel Drive  

    July 30, Saturday, from 9 a.m. till noon – at the Bay Bridge


    Emerald Point of the SECOND CREEK – Use an orange weed harvesting machine as the landmark –  July 23, Saturday, from 9 a.m. till noon

    CLARK Creek & Spiegel Drive – July 23, Saturday, from 9 a.m. till noon

    The BAY BRIDGE – July 30, Saturday, from 9 a.m. till noon

DEC Seeks Help from Anglers in Preventing Spread

The invasive algae didymo (Didymosphenia geminata) was recently confirmed in Clear Creek, a popular trout fishing stream in Cattaraugus and Wyoming counties, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reported today.

“This is the first documented finding of this aquatic nuisance species west of the Catskills in New York State,” said DEC Region 9 Director Abby Snyder. “Clear Creek is one of our region’s most popular wild brown and rainbow trout streams. Given its connectivity to Cattaraugus Creek and proximity to other nearby trout streams, we ask anglers to be especially vigilant in helping to prevent this species from spreading.”

Samples taken and examined by DEC recently confirmed the algae’s presence in Clear Creek at Jones Road in the Cattaraugus County portion of the steam. The finding was confirmed after a concerned angler contacted DEC with a potential sighting.

Didymo, also known as “rock snot,” can produce large amounts of stalk material that form thick mats on stream bottoms. During blooms, these mats may completely cover long stretches of stream beds. Its growth can alter stream conditions, choking out many of the organisms that live on the stream bottom. The resulting disturbance to the stream’s food chain can negatively impact trout and other fish populations.

Once introduced to an area, didymo can rapidly spread to nearby streams. Wading anglers and other water recreationalists such as kayakers, canoeists, boaters and jet skiers can easily and unknowingly spread didymo by transporting the cells on boats and other gear, especially if moving from one waterway to another in a single day.

DEC strongly encourages all anglers and boaters in the region to play a role in preventing the spread of didymo by following the precautions below:

  • Check

    Before leaving a river or stream, remove all obvious clumps of algae and look for hidden clumps. Leave them at the affected site. If you find any later, do not wash them down drains; dispose all material in the trash.

  • Clean

    Treatment varies depending on what needs to be cleaned. Be sure that the solution completely penetrates thick absorbent items such as felt-soled waders and wading boots. Felt-soles, due to their ability to absorb didymo cells and to stay damp for prolonged periods of time, are a major vector in spreading didymo and require special treatment (prolonged soaking in disinfectant).

  • Dry

    If cleaning is not practical, after the item is completely dry to the touch, wait an additional 48 hours before contact or use in any other waterway. Check thick, absorbent items closely to assure that they are dry throughout. Equipment and gear can also be placed in a freezer until all moisture is frozen solid. NOTE: If cleaning, drying or freezing is not practical, restrict equipment to a single water body.

DEC Fisheries staff will monitor Clear Creek and nearby waterways throughout the summer to check for the spread of this algae, and encourages anglers to report any potential didymo sightings and locations. For more information on didymo, visit DEC’s website.

New Yorkers take action to protect lands and waters from invasive species that can be harmful to human health, animal habitat, agriculture and tourism.

Invasive species can be a serious problem in communities around Sodus Bay, with the potential to damage animal habitats and impede the growth of our tourism and agricultural industries.

In 2014 and 2015 New York State ran Invasive Species Awareness weeks.

Some key recommendations to prevent Invasives getting into Sodus Bay:

Recreational Boating Precautions

It is very important that boaters, anglers and other recreational enthusiasts take precautions to avoid transporting this and other invasive species, particularly after leaving waters known to harbor aquatic invasive species.

Clean, Drain & Dry Inspect your fishing and boating equipment and remove all mud, plants and other organisms that might be clinging to them.  Once clean, ensure that all equipment has been properly drained, paying particular attention to bilge areas, livewells, and baitwells in boats.  Drying is the most effective “disinfection” mechanism and is least likely to damage sensitive equipment and clothing. All fishing and boating equipment, clothing and other gear should be dried completely before moving to another body of water. This may take a week or more depending upon the type of equipment, where it is stored and weather conditions. A basic rule of thumb is to allow at least 48 hours for drying most non-porous fishing and boating gear at relative humidity levels of 70 percent or less.  Steps should be taken to actively disinfect fishing and boating equipment if it cannot be dried before its use in another body of water.

DEC adopted new regulations that require boaters to remove all visible plant and animal materials from boats, trailers and associated equipment, and to drain boats prior to launching and after retrieving from DEC lands.

More information can be found on New York State Invasive Species Information Site:  http://www.nyis.info/index.php


We Did It!

After ten years, SOS and its partners are finally able to say that we collected every water chestnut that we could find today.  What was 22 acres is now zero.  We were under trees, around fallen trees and in the cattails.  We made a sweep of Second Creek itself and the center open water of Emerald Cove and when we couldn’t find any more we quit for pizza.  A big, “Thank you.”, to the Scouts, the Wayne County Soil and Water Conservation District, NY Sea Grant, the SOS Launch Stewards, the NY Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Launch Steward from Fair Haven State Park, the Sodus Bay Improvement Association and SOS members from all around the Bay and some of their friends.

Did we get them all?  No.  We likely missed a few and there will be some late bloomers but they will likely not mature.  Our job now shifts to vigilance, lest they return.  SOS appreciates all the help and support received over the years and now it’s time for the riparians in the Emerald Cove area to take up the baton and continue the challenge.  I’m sure that the County Soil and Water Conservation District will continue to harvest the areas accessible to the harvesters.  If the job that they did this year is any example, over 80 loads in the last two weeks, the remaining task should be manageable.