Progress

ECO AmeriCorps Members Remove Invasive Water Chestnut

The State of Vermont has been dealing with invasive water chestnut for a long time. Currently found in southern Lake Champlain and its tributaries, Lake Bomoseen, Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, and several other lakes and ponds in the basin, water chestnut is a nuisance.

Both mechanical and hand harvesting methods are used to significantly reduce the negative impacts of this invasive plant in Lake Champlain and other water in Vermont. Mechanical harvesting is used to remove dense mats and is currently necessary only in southern Lake Champlain. Hand-pulling continues to be the main control method used at all sites in the state.

On a warm and sunny day last week, a group of 18 Environmental and Career Opportunity (ECO) AmeriCorps members traveled to Blissville Pond in Poultney to hand pull water chestnut. Members went out in canoes to collect water chestnut in large bags. The bags were weighed and then dumped into a pile that was left to decompose.

After a long and hot day of pulling water chestnut, the group collected a total of 1,562.5 pounds of water chestnut out of the pond.

After a long and hot day of pulling water chestnut, the group collected a total of 1,562.5 pounds of water chestnut out of the pond. Photo credit – Ann Bove

Water chestnut is a rooted annual aquatic plant that likes to grow in slow-moving, nutrient-rich waters. The plant reproduces by over-wintering seeds in the bottom of a lake or pond. The four sharp, barbed points, anchor the seed into the ground, making it difficult to remove.

The ECO AmeriCorps members removed 1,562.5 pounds of water chestnut, which roughly corresponds to 20,782 rosettes from Blissville Road Pond. A rosette is a floating grouping of leaves attached to the main stem (see picture below).

The rosette of the water chestnut plant is attached to the main stem that is anchored into the bottom of the pond.

The rosette of the water chestnut plant floats on top of the water, and is attached to the main stem that is anchored into the bottom of the pond.