“They also lower property values” for those with camps along lakes that have them, Coe noted.
Paul Lord, an aquatic biology professor at SUCO, said had that single water chestnut gotten past Coe it could have caused an infestation that would have taken eight years to eradicate.
“This was a great save,” said Lord. “Most folks, unfortunately, are about as unknowing about the potential of an infestation as was this gentleman on whose trailer the water chestnut was found. That’s how these things get spread. It’s not out of maliciousness.”
Coe and Lord both said that boaters should use power washers on their crafts after removing them from waterways with invasive species. Lord said he is hoping that the state Department of Environmental Conservation institute fines for those who introduce a new invasive species into a waterway, a consequence that already exists in some other states. The boats can also be cleansed with a solution of bleach and water.
Ryan Fagan, one of the trustees of the Canadarago Lake Improvement Association, praised Coe for his dedication.
“Eric’s knowledge and enthusiasm has blown us away from Day One,” Fagan said. “His approach is to educate every boater about the immense dangers of transporting non-native plants, and the very simple measures that can be taken to prevent potentially tragic outbreaks from happening.”
He said Coe often puts in eight-hour shifts “in the baking sun or pouring rain.”
Coe, who currently works only weekends at the launch, said he worries that invasive species may be making their way into the lake on days he is not working. Often putting in 8 hour shifts in the baking sun or pouring rain, every single person who uses Canadarago Lake owes Eric a debt of gratitude for his vigilance, and especially for preventing this potential disaster.