By Matthew Gorton and Kate Kelly, Lewis Creek Association

Lewis Creek Association (LCA) recently wrapped up its boat launch steward program at Bristol and Monkton ponds. LCA chose Bristol and Monkton ponds due to their popularity with anglers, recreational boaters, wildlife enthusiasts, and for the natural communities that are present at the ponds. As of 2021, there are three known aquatic invasive species (AIS) in Bristol Pond: European frogbit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae), Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), and brittle naiad (Najas minor)] and two AIS in Monkton Pond [Eurasian watermilfoil and curly-leaf pondweed (Potamogeton crispus)]. Therefore, 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.

Bristol Pond, where three known aquatic invasive species are found. Photo by Matthew Gorton.

Bristol Pond, where three known aquatic invasive species are found. Photo by Matthew Gorton.

Seventy-three percent of visitors at Bristol Pond and 64 percent of visitors at Monkton Pond reported that they took AIS spread prevention measures (e.g., cleaning, draining and drying their boats) prior to inspection. Forty percent of watercraft inspected at Bristol Pond and Monkton Pond had AIS on them. If the boat launch stewards hadn’t intercepted the vegetation on the watercrafts launching into and retrieving from the ponds, 237 watercraft (of the total 579 inspected) could have potentially spread AIS to other 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. Further details on the program’s results can be found at lewiscreek.org/boat-launch-steward-program.

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 and Monkton ponds 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 program could potentially prevent (both directly and indirectly) AIS from spreading to other uninfested waterbodies. LCA hopes to continue the program in 2022 and to coordinate with the Vermont Department of Conservation to organize a volunteer day to remove brittle naiad and European frogbit. Reach out to Kate Kelly or 488-5203, with questions or to volunteer.

This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement (LC00A00695) to NEIWPCC in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program.