Watching the river for nasty rock snot
“Invasive species are not just for lakes and ponds anymore. They are in rivers, so we are trying to be proactive. The way that you find invasive species is early detection and rapid response,” said Michele Tremblay, president of the New Hampshire Rivers Council.
The first “River Runners workshop” training session is planned to take place in Nashua on Saturday.
Didymosphenia geminata, also known as Didymo or Rock Snot, is the focus of the program.
“Didymo is kind of the new kid on the block,” Tremblay said. “Didymo is an algae that makes a felt-like mat on river bottoms and it can choke out everything. It's been found in very cold, clear, nice, clean water, as opposed to a lot of other invasive species.”
Didymo has been detected in the Connecticut River in New Hampshire. Another invasive water species water chestnut has been found in the Nashua watershed.
These invasive aquatic species can affect the habitat of other native species of fish and other aquatic life.
“Zebra mussels and milfoil are kind of the ones you hear about more in lakes. Fortunately we haven't heard about zebra mussels yet in New Hampshire, but milfoil is in a lot of ponds and lakes.”
The most common way Didymo is being spread is through boats and fishing weights.
In the past the River Council, an independent non-profit, has paid interns to survey bodies of water for these plants during the summer months.
This year the organization is trying something new by training volunteers around the state to conduct the surveys.
“This is our first year training the volunteers and we're hoping that it will grow every year,” said Beth Flagler, program administrator.
Tremblay said the River Runners volunteers are to be made up of local conservation commission or river and watershed association members as well as outdoors people who use their local waterways recreationally. “Cause they are already out and about and in their watersheds.”
The volunteers are to collect data for the River Council and submit samples of suspected invasive aquatic plants to the N.H. Department of Environmental Services.
“It's certainly something that throughout the state and throughout New England can be quite costly. So early detection is key,” Flagler said.
Flagler said there are still some spots open for this Saturday's training in Nashua.
A kayak or canoe is required to participate in three out of the four workshops.
A workshop is planned June 23 in Lebanon. The indoor portion of the Lebanon River Runners workshop is in the Kilton Library Community Room. The outdoor water training portion will be at East Wilder boat launch on the Connecticut River.
On July 7, a workshop is planned to take place at the N.H. Fish and Game office Lancaster and on the Connecticut River at Lyman Falls for water training. A kayak or canoe is not required for this session.
On July 9, the last workshop is planned to take place at the Green Mountain Conservation Group in Effingham before moving to the Ossipee River for on the water training.
Volunteers can register online at www.nhrivers.org.
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