Invasive Aquatic Plants Threaten Area Ponds

Many ponds in the Ipswich River Watershed have been converted to water supply reservoirs, but there are several with unique recreational and habitat value. Lately, we have been spending time on a few of these ponds collecting data that could one day lead to the restoration of the herring fishery.  At the same time, these ponds and maybe the Ipswich River are under threat from invasive aquatic plants that can reduce habitat quality. We are going to need to address this problem for the river and ponds if we are to host a thriving fish population.

River herring were once a dominant fish of our coastal rivers during their spring migration and their decades long decline has left the river without a fish that is a vital part of the food web. One solution to herring restoration is to restock ponds so a run can be reestablished to that location. We are in the process of collecting data on Hood’s Pond in Topsfield and Martin’s Pond in North Reading as evidence of their potential to host a spawning population of river herring.

Invasive aquatic plants can infest water bodies, crowd out native plants, block sunlight and make recreation almost impossible. We recently hosted a Weed Watchers training to educate volunteers on how to identify these plants. Martin’s Pond has already been treated for infestations of Eurasian water milfoil and fanwort, both very aggressive and tough to control. On Hood’s Pond, several volunteers have spotted and removed invasive water chestnut plants and we now realize there is a problem with variable milfoil, another aggressive invader. We need to organize volunteers to monitor these locations annually and to help advocate for control measures when needed.

We have much more work to do before realizing our goals of restoring the healthy habitats and fish runs that were once normal for the Ipswich River. The Weed Watchers Program is one way that people can get involved in the restoration process. For information about Weed Watchers or to ask about a potential invasive problem in a pond near you, contact Ryan at rodonnell@ipswichriver.org.