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Rhode Island Natural History Survey » Pull Water Chestnut for Fun and Profit…Well, Just for Fun
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Events &Invasives &News &Plants dgregg on 19 Jul 2011 10:39 am

Pull Water Chestnut for Fun and Profit…Well, Just for Fun

Volunteers are needed to help pull the invasive plant water chestnut (Trapa natans) from Chapman Pond, in Westerly, on Sunday, July 24, from 8 am to 12 noon. Meet at the DEM boat ramp off Town Landfill Road off of Rt-91 (Westerly-Bradford Road). Everyone should bring sturdy gloves that can get wet, clothes that can get wet and muddy, sun screen, and insect repellant. Canoes, kayaks, or small skiffs are welcome, but you don’t have to have one to help. If you bring a boat please bring life vests/jackets for you and your passengers. Plastic buckets (5-6 gallon size) or sturdy plastic totes are helpful so bring some if you can. Instructions will be provided. Call the Rhode Island Natural History Survey (RINHS) at 874-5800 if you have questions, or Larry at the Westerly Land Trust at 596-9796.

Water chestnut (no relation to the common Chinese-food ingredient) is native to Eurasia but is an invasive species in North America. It can grow vigorously and densely in shallow, nutrient-rich waters, obliterating native pond habitat, clogging waters to most recreational uses, and presenting a significant physical hazard to swimmers and waders due to its barbed seed pods. The discovery of water chestnut in Rhode Island in four water bodies is a serious development and one that must be handled aggressively to prevent damage to some of Rhode Island’s most valuable natural resources.

Luckily, water chestnut is an annual, meaning that if removed before their seeds drop, the plants cannot grow back. They are also fairly easy to remove, as they are lightweight and root loosely in soft pond-bottom substrate. Their seeds can remain viable for up to 12 years, so close monitoring of managed populations is necessary for some time to make sure the entire population has been removed.

The Westerly Land Trust, the Rhode Island Natural History Survey, the town of Westerly, and Rhode Island DEM have banded together to take the initiative of removing water chestnut in Chapman Pond before the population grows into an even larger problem than it already is. It is hoped that by connecting different parts of the community, a successful rapid response to an invasive species can occur, simultaneously raising interest and awareness of invasive species in Rhode Island. Please join us if you can.

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