Stopping the spread of invasive plants falls to summer boaters

7:54 AM, Jul 20, 2011   |    comments
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BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The fight to keep invasive plants out of Maine waterways takes on added urgency during the busy summer boating season.

Out of Maine's more than 6,000 waterways, about 30 of them are infested with some sort of invasive plant such as milfoil or hydrilla.  The plants spread quickly, choking out native species.  They can form thick growths on the beds of rivers and lakes that inhibit swimming and boating.

NEWS CENTER's Lee Nelson recently discussed what can be done to prevent an infestation with Laura Wilson, a water quality scientist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

When asked to choose, Wilson said hydrilla is probably the worst of the invasive plants.  She said it is especially aggressive and hardy.  While most other invasive plants cannot survive out of freshwater, hydrilla can withstand even a partially saltwater environment, such as those found in Maine's estuaries.  For those reasons, Wilson said that her colleagues highlight the dangers of hydrilla by pointing that it rhymes with Godzilla.

Wilson said invasive plants are most commonly spread by boaters, as they skip from one body of water to another.  To protect Maine's waterways, she said boaters should carefully inspect their boats and clean them of any invasive plants whenever they enter or leave a body of water.

Wilson said prevention is critical because it is practically impossible to remove an invasive plant once it takes hold.  She said she knows of only one case in which volunteers using SCUBA gear successfully rooted out an infestation after catching it in the early stages.

For more information about invasive plants, their effects and how to prevent them, click here for a link to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension's website.


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