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Bristol Pond boat launch steward program a success

LEWIS CREEK ASSOCIATION’S boat launch steward checks boats for aquatic invasive species before they enter Bristol Pond.

BRISTOL — Lewis Creek Association (LCA) recently wrapped up its first-ever boat launch steward program season at Bristol Pond. LCA chose Bristol Pond due to its popularity with anglers, recreational boaters, wildlife enthusiasts, and for the rare natural communities that are present at the pond.
As of 2020, there are two known aquatic invasive species (AIS) in Bristol Pond: European Frogbit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae) and Eurasian Watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum). This made Bristol Pond a natural point of introduction for the spread of AIS in the Lewis Creek watershed and throughout the State. The goal of LCA’s program was to prevent the spread of AIS by inspecting watercraft for AIS and biological materials, identifying and removing suspicious specimens, collecting data, and educating the public about AIS spread prevention.
Over the course of the summer, LCA’s boat launch steward inspected 570 watercrafts launching into and retrieving from Bristol Pond. Only three visitors to Bristol Pond refused to have their watercraft inspected for AIS. Some of these visitors came as far as Texas to utilize Bristol Pond. LCA found that 77% of visitors had prior contact with a boat launch steward before arriving at Bristol Pond. However, around 38% of visitors did not take any AIS spread prevention measures. About 11% of the watercraft that were inspected at Bristol Pond had aquatic plants on them. If the boat launch steward hadn’t intercepted the vegetation on the watercrafts launching into the pond, the watercraft could have served as vectors of infestation to 63 different bodies of water. LCA found that most visitors are doing their part in keeping our waterbodies healthy by cleaning, draining, and drying their boats and other equipment.
The Bristol Pond Boat Launch Steward Program’s first year was successful in intercepting AIS and educating the public on the issues surrounding AIS. The vast majority of visitors to Bristol Pond seemed excited to have the program there, and many people from the community went to the pond to see LCA’s boat launch steward in action. Research has shown that visual inspections and hand removal of aquatic vegetation is extremely effective at preventing AIS from spreading to other bodies of water. LCA’s boat launch steward program could potentially prevent, both directly and indirectly, AIS from spreading to other uninfested waterbodies.

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