The Audubon Nature Community Center is asking for help from area residents Saturday, July 23, from 9 a.m. to noon, in its annual battle to clean Audubon’s Great Pond of European water chestnut.
The European water chestnut can cover a body of water so densely that it chokes out other plant and animal life. A different species from the water chestnut that can be purchased canned, the plant is controlled in its natural habitat in Europe, Asia and Africa by local parasitic insects not found in North America.
Since 2013, staff members and volunteers have worked to control this infestation and prevent it from spreading to other waterways in the area, including Conewango Creek and Chautauqua Lake. ACNC staff also assist with water chestnut monitoring and eradication work in the Chautauqua Lake watershed through their partnership with the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy and the Chautauqua Lake and Watershed Management Alliance.
The water chestnut is just one of the invasive species the ACNC is working to address in its land use management plan. The plan was created to protect the unique ecosystems found within the 600 acres of property overseen by the ACNC, including swamps, wetlands, ponds, upland forests, fields, vernal pools, and more.
This task requires being in the water with waders or in a canoe with a life jacket. Water chestnut diggers can expect to get wet and muddy.
Volunteers should bring their own hats, life jackets, sunscreen, insect repellent, waders and kayaks if they have them. The ACNC has a limited supply of waders and kayaks; call 716-569-2345 to reserve.
Volunteers must be at least 13 years old and those up to 17 must be supervised by a parent present.
Registration helps with planning. To register, call 716-569-2345 or click “Upcoming Programs” at AudubonCNC.org. Walk-ins are also welcome.
Volunteers are invited to visit the Center de la nature building free of charge afterwards.
Audubon Community Nature Center is located at 1600 Riverside Road, a quarter mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown and Warren. Visit the 600-acre nature preserve and learn about Liberty, the non-releasable bald eagle, see the arboretum of native trees, gardens, picnic area, natural play space, and hike the six-mile of trails from dawn to dusk every day for free.
The Nature Center’s three-story building houses interactive exhibits, a collection of live animals including the Hellbender Exhibit, 2021 Nature Photography Contest winners, and the Blue Heron Gift Shop. Visitors are welcome Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nature Center members and SNAP/EBT cardholders enjoy admission free at the building every day. Admission to the building is also free every Sunday for non-members of the Nature Center.
To learn more about Audubon and its programs, call 716-569-2345, find Audubon Community Nature Center on Facebook, or visit AudubonCNC.org, where the most recent COVID-19 advisory at the top of the page can be found. Entries for the 2022 Nature Photography Contest and voting for the Community Choice winners can be made at GoGoPhotoContest.com/ACNCPhotoContest.