Volunteers from as far away as Little Neck and Orient joined forces Friday morning with local residents and a trio of environmental organizations to rid the Peconic River of an invasive aquatic plant.
Canoers and kayakers paddled into the river from the PLECO beach to identify and hand-pull Ludwigia peploides, also known as water primrose, from the river.
Since 2006, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, the Peconic Estuary Program and Peconic Lake Estates Community Organization (PLECO) have held annual joint efforts to keep track of and eradicate the primrose from the river. According to the Peconic Estuary Program, more than 400 volunteers have spent over 2,360 hours pulling out more than 130 cubic yards of the plants.
Water primrose spreads when small pieces break off and float away to flourish quickly elsewhere as a dense mat of vegetation on the surface of the river, disturbing the fragile shoreline ecosystem by choking out natural vegetation and degrading the water quality by lowering both pH and dissolved oxygen levels.
Because water primrose mats can close off open water, the weed interferes with activities human enjoy on the river, such as fishing, swimming, and boating.
Water primrose has been kept from spreading in the Peconic by constant monitoring and pulling of the weed. DEC signs and primrose disposal stations line the river to educate the public and enlist its help in keeping the weed under control.
First-time volunteers Glynis Berry and Hideaki Ariizumi of Orient came because they wanted to support the PEP's efforts to keep the river clean.
"The health of the bays and the river is extremely important," Berry said, so she was eager to do what she could to help.