Last week a friend sent me an e-mail about a proposed biological solution to invasive weeds on Flannagan Pond. He had seen this in a threaded discussion on a local Yahoo Group.
Curiously the proposal was to introduce an invasive fish species to hopefully eradicate our invasive plant species.
This method has been introduced in various areas of the country, with mixed results. For a self-contained privately-owned pond of several acres, it may have merit. However it can be potentially disastrous for any waterway that discharges into a river.
How do you contain a fish when you have a waterway that connects…Long Pond, Sandy Pond, Flannagan Pond, Balch Pond, East Main Street Spillway, Grove Pond, Plow Shop Pond, Nonancoicus Brook, Nashua River…?
Asian Carp are now infesting the Great Lakes and many other waterways in the nation. These carp were not placed in the Great Lakes, they migrated there. Similar infestations are taking place in the South where contained catfish farms used carp and the fish found their way to a creek or river.
“But Chuck, these carp have been sterilized by radiation.” Even proponents of this method concur that sterilization is not 100% effective.
I spoke with the engineer from Lycott Environmental about introducing carp to Flannagan Pond. He shared the following facts: 1) In Massachusetts it is illegal to introduce a non-native species into the wild; 2) he has witnessed this in Connecticut where there are new carp appearing, in spite of alleged sterilization; 3) the carp will feed on the native plant species.
In addition, from what I have read and heard from local anglers, carp will eat eggs and small fry of game fish, destroying the local fish population.
When will we ever learn? Got a snake problem? Introduce mongoose? Now you have a mongoose problem instead. Introduce carp, get a carp problem.
The spring weed treatment has been quite successful in treating the Milfoil and Fanwort invasive weeds this season. The west end of the pond looks fantastic. The east end of the pond, near Sandy Pond is markedly improved, but the water is murky from the decomposing vegetation.
Another fascinating by-product of the weed decomposition is the floating compost heap that forms as the vegetation gives off gas and rises to the surface. Breezes and currents appear to gather the stuff into a tangled mass as it creates little “weed islands.”
The weed islands sometimes drift to shore and we clean them up, but when they’re still floating about they are excellent fishing spots for the herons who patiently wait for an unsuspecting bluegill to swim by.
There has been a noticeable increase in canoes and kayaks on the pond in recent weeks. I have seen quite a few put-in off Central Avenue and paddlers are once again coming over from Sandy Pond.
Here is a detailed report provided in June by Becky DaSilva-Conde, Ayer’s Conservation Agent:
I was able to speak with Rob Wheaton of Lycott Environmental this afternoon to get an update on the herbicide treatment status at Flannagan Pond. Rob is quite pleased with the results thus far.
The treatment dates did occur as planned. The pond was treated for variable milfoil species with diquat/Reward herbicide at both far ends on May 15th and again for the middle of the pond on May 18th. The milfoil was well underway in its growth stage and Rob found that it was more dense than the fanwort species. When he and his team returned for the second treatment on the 18th, he was pleased to see that the milfoil plants that were treated on the 15th were already loosing their green color. Thus they were already dying off. When they returned on the following week, May 23rd, they were very happy to see that all the milfoil had died off! (The herbicide they used is a “contact herbicide” which acts very fast and the plants die off very quickly.)
On the 23rd, they treated the whole pond with floridone/Sonar herbicide to kill off the fanwort species. The fanwort was about 3-4 inches high at the time, which Rob stated is a great growth phase for the treatment of this plant. They returned on May 30th to take three water samples. Their goal is to maintain the water sample rates at 10. The samples taken ranged from 13 to 22. Therefore, they are planning to return within the next week or two for a follow up “booster” treatment. This should insure they can see 5-6 inches down of plant kill to make sure that the herbicide gets down to the plant’s root system. This is not a contact herbicide, rather one that gets absorbed into the plant through the leaves and makes its way down to the roots. Therefore, this plant will NOT quickly look dead (as is the case with the milfoil. In fact, the plants remain rigid in the water column but will slowly begin to look pink and white which means that they are dead (due to lack of chlorophyll and photosynthesis).
There are a lot of water lilies present in the pond. There may be reduction due to the herbicides used, but the lilies will likely return since they were not a targeted plant species with this level of treatment. Also, Rob pointed out that the water quality will change from clear to murky for a while as the treatment process takes its course. The increased water turbidity (decreased water clarity) is due to the plant decomposition. As the plants continue to decompose, more phosphorus is released into the water column which also increases algae blooms. Having some level of increased algae is a good because the algae will break down the dead plant matter. So folks should not be alarmed when they begin to notice these changes in the pond.
Rob warned that the variable milfoil will return quickly and should be treated annually. With the use of Reward herbicide, the plants do die off quickly but not all of its root structures are affected. The herbicide prevents the plants from producing seeds each season which in turns prevents further proliferation of the plant in the pond. However, it does not eliminate the plant entirely. On the other hand, fanwort typically takes 2-3 years before it begins reoccurring again.
Rob will update us again after the booster Sonar treatment and follow up water samples.
Since Flannagan Pond is currently looking rather yucky with all the pollen scum on it, I figured I would use a pleasant photograph to accompany this post.
This photo was provided by my friend, Harold MacAleer, from Lincoln. He shot this pic on Farrar Pond last week when these baby swans were one day old.
So here is a quiz for you: what do you call a baby swan? Ducks have ducklings and geese have goslings, so obviously swans have swanlings, right? Well some folks think so. But wordsmiths have fancy names for these fancy fowl.
Swans have signets or cygnets. The former is a word most frequently associated with official seals, like a signet ring.
The latter spelling, cygnet, is derived from the Latin word cygnus and the French suffix -et (“little”). If you want to learn more about these wonderful creatures you can Google to your heart’s content. A quick overview is available on Wikipedia.
One thing I found when I was doing a little research for this post was that you can buy Swans on the Internet. Is there anything you can’t buy on the internet? Gee, this could get me raving on Internet Sales Tax again.
Well enough about Swans, I have to go cook dinner. I am barbecuing, we’re having chicklings.
Lycott Environmental’s recommendation is that treatment of Flannagan Pond begin as soon as possible based on the extent of vegetation observed during their biological survey conducted on May 9th.
Lycott and the Conservation Commission have finalized the initial treatment dates as follows:
May 15 – 1/2 pond diquat (targeting V. Milfoil)
May 18 – second 1/2 pond diquat (targeting V. Milfoil)
May 23 – first fluridone treatment (targeting Fanwort)
Additional fluridone treatments will be scheduled as necessary based on fluridone concentration and observations of the treatment. Notification of these additional dates will be provided ahead of time as well.
Becky DaSilva-Conde, our local Conservation Agent has given me the good news that Flannagan Pond is going to be treated on May 15th. Here is the full text of her message, with all the details. Thank you Becky, ConsCom, FinCom, CPC, BoS and Ayer Town Meeting.
I am pleased to inform everyone that I recently got an update from Lycott Environmental’s biologist regarding her assessment of Flannagan Pond this past Wednesday and treatment proposal.
Our consultants are ready to administer the herbicide treatment as soon as possible in order to be most efficient. Due to the unseasonably warm spring we’ve been experiencing, the milfoil plants are already flowering so it is imperative that the treatment begin as quickly as possible. In order to do so, I have given Lycott permission to go ahead with the treatment waiving their obligation to give us a 14-day notice. Fortunately, state regulations do not require us to post and notify the public within a certain number of days prior to treatment; signs are posted as a courtesy.
Lycott is proposing that the Reward (diquot) herbicide for treatment of the milfoil species be administered over the course of two days versus one. So they will do the first half of the treatment on Tuesday, May 15th and the second half on Friday, May 18th. The Sonar (floridone) herbicide will be applied on Wednesday, May 23rd for treatment of the fanwort species.
I have asked our consultants to post the shoreline on Monday versus the morning of treatment in order to give folks on the pond as much of an advanced notice as possible. In addition, I will have the dates posted on our website and am also asking Chuck Miller to spread the word to The Friends of Flannagan via his website blog.
Yes, someone has sabotaged the pond treatment for the second year in a row. Last year’s beaver dam breech flooded the pond. This year someone drained it.
Someone removed the third flashboard from the spillway on East Main Street. By doing so the water level dropped another 10-12 inches. The water is now too low in many parts of the pond for effective treatment. Optimally the pond needs to rise 8-12 inches.
The DEP permit instructs the town to replace the boards in April, so the Fire Chief will be putting all three boards back in the spillway. As you know, we have had an extremely dry winter and spring. Fortunately we are expecting two days of steady rain this weekend.
Rob Wheaton of Lycott Environmental made a field trip to Ayer on Friday, to check out the conditions of Flannagan Pond. Rob observed that the Variable Milfoil is definitely ready to treat. The problem at this point is that the water level is so low that some of the milfoil is lying on the the exposed sediments of the pond.
Rob explained that the herbicide needs to effectively surround the plant while in the water. The effectiveness of herbicide is greatly reduced when there are high levels of organic material, such as sediment, present in the water column. Many of the heavily infested areas are currently in very shallow water and the movement of the air boat through these shallow regions is going to disturb a great deal of sediment.
Rob could only see some areas of young growth of the Fanwort at this time. With the elevated air and water temperatures, he suggests that it won’t be long before it is also prominent in the pond.
Lycott is still awaiting the permit from Mass DEP.
Pray for sufficient rainfall to get the pond to a treatable level within the next few weeks. and to our dam(n) saboteur, keep your mitts off the dam so we can get the pond treated this year.
This morning I spotted my first beaver of the season. He was just beaching himself on the shoreline and I chased him off. There is not much left for him to munch on at my shoreline, so he didn’t miss much of a breakfast.
However, this gentleman seated in the chair has much more to be concerned about if the rodents show up in his back yard. For more fascinating tree art, check out his site.
At this time things are looking good for our upcoming weed treatment on Flannagan Pond.
I heard from Becky Dasilva-Conde from Ayer Conservation. She told me that she just received an email from the consultant at Lycott Environmental. They are targeting a mid-to-late May date, when the plants are at their ideal growth stage for susceptibility to the herbicides.
Lycott submitted the request for a permit for herbicide application from MassDEP last month and they are awaiting the paperwork.
Their staff biologist will be coming out to conduct a survey of the plants to ensure that the growth levels and water levels are ideal for their target date. If the plants are growing and maturing ahead of schedule, then they will adapt their schedule accordingly too.