Principal Investigator: Stacie Hall, Pymatuning State Park
Co-Principal Investigator: Brian Pilarcik, Crawford County Conservation District
Years Funded: 2016-2017
Pymatuning Reservoir like many other waterways across Pennsylvania and the country has been left to manage impacts of native and non-native aquatic invasive species. Pymatuning Reservoir currently has infestations of hydrilla, Eurasian water milfoil, phragmites, purple loosestrife, Japanese mystery snail, Chinese mystery snail, Asiatic clam, rusty crayfish, and American water lotus. DCNR Pymatuning State Park staff have been actively treating for problem invasive species on an annual basis. The cost of treatment is a burden on an already tight annual budget.
In addition to Pymatuning Reservoir’s current invaders nearby watersheds are impacted by a host of other aquatic invasives such as starry stonewort, cabomba, European water chestnut, zebra mussels, as well as others. As stated earlier, for a park already burdened by treatments, it would be devastating to take on additional threats to the aquatic ecosystem. As a top 1 O fishing destination with over 3 million visitors to the park each year, Pymatuning Reservoir is not only in serious threat of new introductions, but also a prime vector for spreading invasives to surrounding water bodies. Seeing the success of invasive species inspection stations in surrounding states such as New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan, our goal is to create a similar program based on these models at Pymatuning. These voluntary check stations would help to provide education to our visitors to not only help the stop of invasive species coming in, but also help from spreading our invasive species to other lakes. Implementing such a program would fit the PA Invasive Species Council’s goal of prevention through addressing pathways used by non-native invasive species listed in the 2009 PA Invasive Species Management Plan.
DCNR Pymatuning State Park and The Crawford County Conservation District propose utilizing the existing model of launch stewards to implement a program at Pymatuning Reservoir. If funded, this project would provide the needed materials necessary for the startup of 6 check stations around the 17,000 acre reservoir. A combination of DCNR staff, paid and unpaid interns, and volunteers would be used to provide coverage of these 6 check stations. At the same time an education effort through the numerous boat clubs, marinas, and fishing tournaments would be implemented. Non-staffed launches would have visible disposal stations and clear signage.
Photo Credit: DCNR Pymatuning State Park