Sometimes you have to get pretty creative to fight an alien invasion
“Invasion Defense Team” – Volunteer team from Diving Enterprises, Ltd in Salem, Va.
OK – maybe “alien” is a bit strong, but Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), is an invasive aquatic plant that can create major problems for native plant and animal species, as well as park visitors (see the video below).
At Douthat State Park, we discovered Eurasian watermilfoil growing in the lake during the summer of 2011. It grew quickly and started clogging up the park’s paddle boats.
This summer, our efforts included reaching out to the folks atDiving Enterprises, Ltdin Salem, Virginia. With their network of skilled and certified SCUBA divers, they helped put together a wonderful group of volunteers to attack the watermilfoil.
Preparing to dive!
The group joined park staff on August 24, 2014 for a special volunteer event unlike any other held at Douthat State Park. Twelve divers worked in two areas, collecting the Eurasian watermilfoil and bringing it up to the surface to be disposed of.
Returning to the surface with hands full of "milfoil"
In three hours, the divers collected over 200 pounds of Eurasian watermilfoil. By pulling the plant, roots and all, they helped to remove the invasive and slow its spread in Douthat's lake.
Volunteers play an important role in maintaining our click here.
Treatment of watermilfoil takes careful planning; it is important to preserve a healthy population of native species while effectively killing or removing the invasive plant.
Watermilfoil originated in Eurasia and was introduced to the United States in the 1940s. It grows up from the lake bottom in long stems usually 3 to 10 feet long, but sometimes up to 33 feet long. It can create thick mats at the water surface, blocking out light to other plants and creating a problem for boats moving through the area.
For a list of alien plant invaders in natural areasclick here.