State Bid Request Reinforces Use of ‘Johnson’ Plant Analysis Method

State Bid Request Reinforces Use of ‘Johnson’ Plant Analysis Method

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently issued bid invitations for a three-year, state project that requires that an aquatic plant-surveying method used for almost two decades to assess Chautauqua Lake is utilized for the state project.

This bid process reinforces the scientific value and relevance of the so-called Johnson method of testing plant density and variety. The method is named for Robert Johnson, who started his work for the Chautauqua Lake Association in 2002 in his role as Cornell Ponds Manager. He has since retired from Cornell and is now a principal with Racine-Johnson Aquatic Ecologists of Ithaca, NY.

“Robert Johnson has performed aquatic plant species and density monitoring services for the CLA since 2002,” said Chautauqua Lake Association Board of Directors President Paul O. Stage. “His surveying has uniformly utilized a rake-toss method that produced a valuable historical database from which plant-management decisions have been guided. We are very encouraged that the DEC is recognizing the value of his work and has endorsed his method for use statewide.”

The rake-toss method, which is surprisingly not utilized by some parties involved in Chautauqua Lake assessments, is now known as the Point Intercept-Rake Drag with Plant Species Percentages Method. More about the process and its results are available in the Racine-Johnson reports posted on the CLA’s website,

Johnson is a member and former president of the Northeast Aquatic Plant Management Society, and served on its board of directors and as editor of its newsletter for several years. He received the highest professional award from the plant society, the Aquatic Plant Science Award, in 2005 and in 2017. It recognized his scientific contributions to understanding the ecology of the non-native invasive species Eurasian watermilfoil and Hydrilla.

“We appreciate having Bob Johnson’s independent plant-monitoring services available to the lake,” said CLA Executive Director Douglas Conroe. “He is providing us with valuable data about Chautauqua Lake’s rich species-diverse aquatic plant community. Chautauqua Lake continues to be an environmental treasure for the community, which his data evidences. The DEC’s endorsement of his utilized-plant surveying method simply reinforces the value of his work.”

Racine-Johnson also performs third-party consultant herbicide-monitoring programs for the DEC and other lake associations. Johnson played a long-term, third-party role in evaluating SOLitude Lake Management’s herbicide treatments for Lamoka/Wanita Lakes near Tyrone, NY for 17 years and Cazenovia Lake for 11 years. He also is the lead scientist for the local and state efforts to halt the spread of the growth of the non-native invasive Hydrilla verticillata discovered on August 5, 2011 in the Cayuga Inlet of southern Cayuga Lake at Ithaca.

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