Conservation District wins grant for aquatic invasive species project

Early detection of invasive species in ponds, rivers, and wetlands, by both professionals and volunteers, is an important strategy to minimize the detrimental effects of invasive species on our native species and habitats.

Invasive water chestnut (Trapa natans) was first observed at a site on the Connecticut River in the Hinsdale, N.H., and Vernon area in 2012. Each year since 2013, a manual harvesting project has been actively removing water chestnut plants from the site.

Water chestnut infestations are a major problem in the Lake Champlain basin and along the Connecticut River in southern New England, but it hasn't yet become a significant resource consuming issue in the watershed in Vermont and New Hampshire, according to a news release.

With professionals and volunteers actively involved in being stewards of the Connecticut River and tributaries, lakes and ponds in its watershed, early detection and preventing the spread of water chestnut - and other aquatic invasive species - will prevent or minimize the negative impacts of an invasive species introduction.

Windham County Natural Resources Conservation District has received funding through the Vermont Department of Conservation's Aquatic Nuisance Control Grant in Aid Program for its Southeastern Vermont Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Educational Outreach, Surveying, and Harvesting Project.

The project, which runs through November 2018, has three main goals: to control, with the intent of eradicating, invasive water chestnut by manually removing the species from two southeastern Vermont sites; to promote early detection of water chestnut, hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) and other AIS in southeastern Vermont; and to increase public awareness of AIS threats in the southeastern Vermont region and promote actions to prevent the further spread of AIS in the region.

The Connecticut River Conservancy also has provided some funding to support 2018 project activities.

The project's goals will be accomplished by leading survey and harvest sessions at the two known water chestnut sites in southeastern Vermont, hosting a Volunteer Invasive Patrollers workshop and engaging groups and individuals in several “on-the-water” learning and AIS surveying opportunities in the southeastern Vermont region.

Sites included in the project's activities will be several locations along the main stem of the Connecticut River and in its watershed, from Vernon up to Springfield and west to Londonderry.

During July and into September, there will be opportunities for anyone interested to get involved with checking local areas of the river and other waterbodies in the region for the presence of water chestnut and other invasive aquatic species. A schedule of site visits, along with announcement updates, will soon be available.

Laurie Callahan, a local aquatic biologist, will lead and coordinate the project's activities in 2018. Contact her for more information about the project at [email protected] or 802-258-1877, or check the Windham County Natural Resources Conservation District Facebook page for updates.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates