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Lewis Creek Association thanks its boat launch stewards

LEWIS CREEK ASSOCIATION boat launch stewards took a morning to learn about and harvest European Frogbit, an aquatic invasive species, at Town Farm Bay in Charlotte.  Photo credit: Matthew Gorton

BRISTOL/MONKTON — Lewis Creek Association (LCA) recently wrapped up its boat launch steward program at Bristol Pond and Monkton Pond. LCA chose Bristol Pond and Monkton Pond due to their popularity with anglers, recreational boaters, and wildlife enthusiasts, and for the natural communities that are present at the ponds. 

As of 2022, there are three known aquatic invasive species in Bristol Pond: European Frogbit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae), Eurasian Watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), and Brittle Naiad (Najas minor); and two in Monkton Pond: Eurasian Watermilfoil and Curly-leaf Pondweed (Potamogeton crispus). As such, Bristol Pond and Monkton Pond could function as points 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.

Visitors at Bristol Pond (95.6%) and of visitors at Monkton Pond (95.5%) took AIS spread prevention measures. The majority of watercraft inspected at Bristol Pond and Monkton Pond did not have AIS on them. However, 67 watercrafts did have AIS on them before and after entering Bristol Pond and Monkton Pond. If the boat launch stewards hadn’t intercepted the vegetation on the watercrafts launching into and retrieving from the ponds, these watercrafts could have potentially spread AIS to other bodies of water within the State.

LCA found that most visitors are doing their part in keeping our waterbodies healthy by cleaning, draining, and drying their boats and other equipment.

In addition to the boat launch steward program, LCA coordinated a day with Lake Champlain Basin Program and Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation staff, and community volunteers, to remove brittle naiad (an AIS that was newly discovered in Bristol Pond) from Bristol Pond. Volunteers and staff made good progress on control of the infestation near the boat launch, but further work will be required. 

LCA’s boat launch steward program was successful in intercepting AIS and educating the public on the issues surrounding AIS. The vast majority of visitors to Bristol Pond and Monkton Pond seemed genuinely excited to have the program at the ponds and many people from the community went to the ponds to see LCA’s boat launch stewards in action. Research has shown that visual inspection 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.

This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement (LC 00A00707-0) to NEIWPCC in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP).

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