NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WWTI) — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is attempting to stop the spread of an aquatic invasive species that has been found in western New York.

According to a press release from the DEC, a citizen discovered an invasive plant called hydrilla at the North Tonawanda Marina. The plant can grow up to an inch a day, producing dense mats of vegetation that initially grow along the bottom of lakes and rivers. As they grow up to the water’s surface, these mats can become several feet thick, shading out and displacing native plants that provide food and shelter to wildlife. 

These dense mats the plant creates not only negatively impacts the aquatic ecosystems but also recreation and tourism. Hydrilla is one of the most difficult aquatic invasive species to control because it breaks apart easily and new plants can develop from pieces of stem that are no more than an inch long.

To prevent the spread of the species, the DEC is asking boaters that visit the marina to lift their motors and clean their props to remove hydrilla fragments before entering the Niagara River. They also advise all boaters to clean, drain, and dry their boats and trailers before launching into any new water body to help protect New York’s waters from all invasive species.

The DEC will be applying copper, which is an aquatic herbicide, to the site during the week of August 23. They said that if the plant reaches the Niagara River it would be impossible to control. The DEC is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prevent the infestation and negative effects of the plant from spreading any further.