HONESDALE—Joint efforts between the Wayne Conservation District, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Pennsylvania Lake Management Society and The Lake Alden Association are presenting an informational workshop on the invasive “hydrilla” plant.

The workshop will be held on Thursday, May 23, at 6 p.m. in the Park Street Complex cafeteria (648 Park Street, Honesdale).

Hydrilla is an aquatic plant designated a “federal noxious weed because of its rapid growth and ability to aggressively outcompete native species,” states a Conservation District news release.

The invasive plant was first discovered in Wayne County in Lake Alden (Long Pond) in 2015.

As of publication, Lake Alden is the only location in the county where hydrilla has been identified in the county.

The main concern, however, is keeping it from spreading.

Conservation District Watershed Specialist, Colleen Campion explained hydrilla spreads through “fragmentation.”

“A piece the size of your pinky nail can grow a whole colony,” she stated.

Hydrilla can grow stalks as long as 25 to 30 feet, from the bottom of dark, murky depths of a lake up to the surface where it begins to mat, making accessibility difficult.

Due to its fragmentary spreadability, a small piece of hydrilla attached to fishing gear, boats or other aquatic recreational equipment can transfer to other bodies of water along with outdoor enthusiasts.

“It's a little scary when you see how this can ramp up,” Campion said, noting one piece of the plant can populate an entire body of water in as few as three years.

Looking to avert the spread of hydrilla, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) recommends lake life lovers and sportspeople clean their gear before relocating to another body of water.

PFBC recommends soaking small gear in hot water between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit with dish detergent (one cup per gallon) for at least 20 minutes.

One can also freeze the gear for eight hours.

Allow the gear to dry at least 48 hours before next use.

Small gear should include line and reel, clothing, vests, nets and tackle, boots and shoes.

For boats and larger equipment, PFBC recommends draining and steam spraying all parts of the equipment including the motor, bilges, bladder tanks, live bait wells, and any other wet compartments or bait containers.

If steaming or hot water spraying isn't available, PFBC notes one can also take a boat through a hot water car wash.

After cleaning and flushing the system, equipment owners should let their aquatic recreational devices dry for at least 48 hours.

Hydrilla's ability to replicate via fragmentation also presents challenges to eradicate it.

Campion explained chemical treatment and herbicides are most often the measures employed to manage hydrilla, but need to be employed carefully so as not to disturb the native populations.

Managing hydrilla can also be costly, reaching figures in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, Campion explained.

Funding can be difficult to come by as there is yet no formal structure in Pennsylvania to deal with the weed as it is just now becoming an issue, she added.

At this point in time, “the key is awareness and education,” said Campion, encouraging anyone and everyone to attend the informational workshop next Thursday evening.

The event will feature information to identify hydrilla, review the best practices to prevent spreading it, and provide a glimpse at Lake Alden's management plan.

—Information from a press release was used in this story.