On Sunday, July 28, a group of over 30 volunteers enjoyed a beautiful day of paddling, bird and wildlife-watching and other joys of being on the Nashua River while also helping to battle the invasive water chestnut plant that grows abundantly in parts of the Pepperell Pond area of the river.
The water chestnut plant, an invasive annual that takes over native plant habitat, grows at an alarmingly rapid rate. Volunteers working from canoes and kayaks completely removed patches of the plant where it was growing in new areas of the river, thereby preventing it from taking hold.
Volunteers placed the plants into laundry baskets in their canoes and kayaks, which were then exchanged with empty ones by a volunteer in a motor boat from Ducks Unlimited who ferried the plants to shore.
Several NRWA summer volunteer interns helped on shore to unload the baskets.
Marion Stoddart, founder of the Nashua River Watershed Association, paddling with Paula Terrasi, Pepperell conservation administrator, said, "I think the day was a great success."
Spencer, 4, of Groton, said of pulling a plastic sled full of weeds to the disposal pile, "Keep filling my sled; this is fun!"
Traveling the Nashua River Rail Trail, many will notice how the plant has taken over in parts of the river where it had been removed two years in a row in 2008 and 2009 (with a state grant) by mechanical harvesting. Limited continued funding for removal has allowed the plant to resume its rapid growth. By pulling the weeds from areas of new growth, it is helping to keep the plant from spreading further.
Further north on the river, the city of Nashua hired a contractor this spring and last summer to mechanically harvest plants near the boat launch by Mine Falls. A resident who lives on the river together with volunteers has been able to remove most of the plants along the shore and in the hard-to-reach areas with a Volunteer Pull scheduled for Aug. 17.
Partners in the local weed pull effort were Nashoba Paddler (who provided canoes free of charge), Ducks Unlimited and the Nashua River Watershed Association.
The NRWA would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the effort for a successful day. Please be in contact regarding future hand-pulling events.
To learn more about water chestnuts, visit us at www.NashuaRiverWatershed.org.
NRWA Water Programs Director