Davis Stream boat traffic halted due to invasive water plant

Posted Wednesday, September 28, 2011 in News

Davis Stream boat traffic halted due to invasive water plant

Hydrilla, an invasive aquatic plant, was recently discovered in Davis Stream.

JEFFERSON – The Maine Departments of Environmental Protection and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are temporarily banning all boats on a portion of Davis Stream following the find of the invasive aquatic plant hydrilla there earlier this month. The ban was intended to protect Damariscotta Lake.

The surface use restriction, which starts 400 feet upstream of Jefferson Market and extends northward on the main stem of the stream until it reaches Route 126, is effective immediately and will run through ice formation. Next spring, the departments will jointly consider whether to reissue the restriction.

By the order, signed by DEP Acting Commissioner Pattie Aho and IFW Commissioner Chandler Woodcock, no watercraft may enter or travel this reach of Davis Stream which joins Damariscotta Lake in the village of Jefferson except in emergency situations or when the environmental department and endorsed volunteers are doing survey or removal work related to the hydrilla infestation.

The state hopes preventing use of this section of stream will stop the spread of hydrilla to other parts of Damariscotta Lake and ensure the suppression efforts by DEP staff and volunteers are most effective.

Last week, DEP staff led volunteers from the Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association for a hydrilla plant pulling session in Davis Stream, removing seven contractors bags filled with plants. Additionally, a carpet called a benthic barrier was temporarily placed on small sections of the streambed to prevent the hydrilla from re-growing. 

Prior to the discovery of the plant in early September, hydrilla had been documented in nearby Damariscotta Lake but the infestation was limited to a .3-acre lagoon on the west side of the lake and was thought to be contained there thanks to the DEP’s efforts in erecting screens to prevent the spread of plant fragments.

“While we’re still not sure how Davis Stream became infested, we are confident this temporary surface restriction is needed to reduce the chance that other parts of Damariscotta Lake and additional Maine waterbodies fall victim to hydrilla’s cruel clutches as well,” said John McPhedran, director of the DEP’s Invasive Aquatic Plants program.

Hydrilla is considered the worst of the invasive aquatic offenders, and in some cases in the southern states where it is most prevalent, the mats it forms in the water are so dense they actually have to be mowed.  

The only other confirmed case of hydrilla in Maine was in Pickerel Pond in Limerick. It was discovered there in 2002 and was treated with herbicide by the DEP. Surveys of Pickerel Pond in 2010 and 2011 revealed that the department’s control efforts were effective as there was no hydrilla.

This is only the third time the departments have issued a surface use restriction. The first was issued in Kozy Cove of Belgrade’s Salmon Lake and spanned from 2008-2010. The second was in Great Meadow Stream which flows into Great Pond, also in the Belgrade Lakes area. That ban began in September of 2010 and is still in effect. 

There are 34 lakes and ponds in Maine that have documented cases of invasive aquatic plant infestations. The state takes prevention and control of invasives so seriously because of the impact infestations can have in destroying water quality, habitat for native fisheries and wildlife, recreational opportunities and values of lakefront property, said McPhedran.

To report a suspicious plant population and/or receive information on how to send a specimen of concern to the department for identification, call 287-3901 or email milfoil@maine.gov.

For more information on the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Invasive Aquatic Species Program and steps you can take to prevent plant invasion, visit http://www.maine.gov/dep and click “Invasive Aquatic Plants” under the featured links.

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