Intense Training for Watercraft Stewards

by Sarah DePillo, William Smith ’14 and Watercraft Steward Program Assistant

This week kicked off the start of the Finger Lakes Institute Watercraft Steward Program. The eleven Watercraft Stewards arrived in Geneva to begin their week-long training, and are now prepared to begin with their positions which will locate them throughout the Finger Lakes Region and on Lake Ontario on public boat launches in an attempt to minimize the spread of invasive species via the education of boaters.

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As a part of the training, the stewards examined and studied boatloads of information; pun intended. Day one brought presentations on project objectives, the history of the region, and the types, causes, and effects of invasive species introduction on local natural habitats. These presentations prepared the stewards by giving them a stronger understanding of the threats and issues that the Finger Lakes region is up against in terms of aquatic invasive species control and management, and the efforts that are required to resolve associated issues.

The second day of training involved a morning of familiarization with boat structures and boating equipment as well as proper inspection and cleaning methods for removal of potentially problematic aquatic organisms.

Check, Drain, Clean & Dry –After boating, boaters should remove all visible mud, plants, fish/animals from their boat, trailer and equipment; drain water from hatches, bilge, live wells; and clean the boat and equipment with hot water (>140 degrees).

In the afternoon, the stewards ventured out onto Seneca Lake aboard The William Scandling, Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ 65′ research vessel.  While aboard the William Scandling, the stewards became further acquainted with limnology (the study of lakes) and animal and plant inhabitants using various scientific technologies, such as a sediment dredge, CTD Profiler, plankton net and microscope, and secchi disk.

The remainder of the training week included trips to target boat launches and a Hydrilla Identification and Monitoring Workshop in Tyrone, NY, hosted by the Schuyler County Water Quality Coordinating Committee (WQCC), the Schuyler County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), and the Finger Lakes Institute.  In anticipation of a boating-filled Memorial Day Weekend and the annual National Lake Trout Derby held on Seneca Lake, the Watercraft Stewards are well equipped to handle the busy days ahead, and to encourage environmental consciousness amidst the festivities on the Finger Lakes and Lake Ontario.

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