Volunteers pull invasive water chestnuts in the Charles River Lakes District.
Despite the emergence of water chestnut plants in the Lower Charles River Basin and on the Charles River in Cutler Park, the 2016 season of CRWA’s Canoeing for Clean Water program was a success.
In 2016, the program held more volunteer events and brought more volunteers to pull invasive water chestnuts in the Lakes District of the Charles River than ever before in its 9-year history! CRWA’s seasonal volunteer coordinator, Cait Chiquelin, was a “graduate” of CRWA’s watershed science internship program and hit the ground running. She organized 31 volunteer events for a total of 524 volunteers, a 12% increase in volunteer participation over our previous record of 467 volunteers in 2014.
Between June 1st and August 6th, volunteers hand-pulled more than 86,000 pounds, or 43 tons, of water chestnuts from the Lakes District of the Charles River. CRWA interns assisted volunteer Don Swire in surveying the parts of the river that were covered with water chestnut plants at the beginning and end of the harvesting season. The 2016 pre-season survey found 31.5 acres of water chestnut plants. This is a 17% decrease over 2015 pre-season coverage and shows that our multi-year collaborative effort is having a positive impact.
The 2016 post-season survey found about 7 acres of water chestnut plants remaining in September. Only about an acre of water chestnut remained at the end of the 2015 season. The fact that we started with less impacted area and ended with more impacted area in 2016 versus 2015 speaks to the fact that water chestnut removal is becoming more labor-intensive. The large swaths of plants rooted in deep waters that we have seen in previous years have largely been reduced to scattered plants that follow the coastlines of the Charles’ coves and islands. Additional investment in well-trained and dedicated hand-pullers will be needed in the coming years to ensure that this eradication of invasive water chestnut is successful. For more information about this program or to sign up for program updates, visit the Canoeing for Clean Water webpage.