Water Chestnut Removal
If you are around the Sassafras Riverkeeper very often, it may seem that he is obsessed with an invasive species of Eurasian water chestnut, Trapa natans. As the Sassafras Riverkeeper, let me try to explain.
Water chestnut plants grow in the shallow creeks along the Sassafras River. They also flourish in the Potomac and Bird Rivers on the Western Shore. In June, the seeds send a slim shoot to the surface, and a “rosette” of leaves spreads out and floats on the water. The rosette gets larger and thicker until it combines with others to prevent sunlight from reaching valuable native submerged aquatic vegetation and any macroinvertebrates in the creek bed.
Every stem produces six rosettes, each of which forms 20 seeds. The math is easy—each shoot produces 120 seed pods. The second year, each of the 120 seeds will produce 120 more seeds. Now the math is more complex, but that one original seed will have produced 14,400 more seeds in only two years if someone doesn’t pull that stem out of the mud. Now for the worst news: the seeds can remain dormant for up to 12 years. So even if we think we’ve gotten them all . . . we haven’t.
Every summer, from June until August, as your Riverkeeper I scout the creeks along the Sassafras. I then return to any infestations with volunteers in canoes and kayaks. Intrepid staffers from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources usually make a couple of trips to the Sassafras to help. Sometimes AmeriCorps volunteers, on loan from Sassafras Environmental Education Center’s Wayne Gilchrest, give us a hand. This July, we will have help from the Chesapeake Conservation Corps. This may sound like a lot of help, but it never seems to be enough to fight the invasion of water chestnuts.
When the weather warms, if you would like to spend a few hours in a kayak or canoe pulling plants and long muddy roots from the creeks of the Sassafras, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 410-708-2488.
Help Wanted - Project Clean Stream
Every year about this time, the Sassafras River Association (now ShoreRivers) organizes a watershed-wide shoreline and roadside trash cleanup in coordination with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. We recruit Site Captains, who gather volunteers to help with our efforts. All needed trash bags and other materials are furnished by Project Clean Stream, and volunteers supply the man and woman power.
Thanks to all who came out this past weekend! We will be doing most of our remaining cleanups on April 14th, but other cleanups may be held on weekends through May. If you would like to help make the Sassafras River a little cleaner, please contact email@example.com or call me at 410-708-2488.