Written by Industry Experts Jeff Castellani, Director of Mechanical Operations, and Emily Walsh, Environmental Scientist
Fiske Pond is a 67-acre waterbody located in Natick, Massachusetts within the Lake Cochituate sub-basin of the Sudbury River Watershed. Nestled in an urban area outside of Boston, Massachusetts, Fiske Pond was traditionally enjoyed by the community for recreational activities such as fishing and canoeing. Unfortunately, these leisurely activities became increasingly limited due to the dense mat of Water Chestnut (Trapa natans), an invasive aquatic plant that has proliferated since 2004. By 2008, the infestation had established a monoculture covering over 40 of the 67 acres, leading to major biological and recreational concerns. At this time, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) contacted SOLitude to initiate a management program.
Due to the competitive nature of invasive Water Chestnut, it was decided that mechanical and physical removal, via aquatic weed removal services and hand pulling, was the proper management approach for the removal and eventual eradication of the nuisance aquatic weed from Fiske Pond. Mechanical harvesting was an ideal management option due to the machine’s mobility and capability to remove plants from the water’s surface with minimal disturbance to the sediment below. This option was more attractive than herbicide applications because it removed the plant biomass and prevented the dense mat of vegetation from decaying, releasing nutrients back into the water column and contributing to further eutrophication of the pond.
On July 21, 2008, SOLitude began harvesting, supplemented with hand-pulling efforts along the shoreline. The 2008 harvesting effort lasted 24 days and yielded a total of 225 tons of plant material. The DCR was thrilled with the results and deemed the project a success. One DCR official commented, “Fiske is looking great. The project seemed overwhelming at first, but the guys did a great job.”
Since Water Chestnut is an annual plant, with seeds viable for 12 plus years, the lake weed removal process has been repeated each year to continually diminish the seed bed to elimination. The past nine years of harvesting have consisted of three years of aggressive mechanical removal (2008-2010), three years of limited mechanical removal (2011-2013) and three years of solely hand harvesting due to low densities and coverage (2014-2016). Since the project began, the total annual Water Chestnut plant tonnage removed has continually decreased each year. When SOLitude started in 2008, there was a total of 225 tons collected (approximately 4.5 million plants) compared to 0.115 tons collected (2,300 plants) in 2016.
The past nine years of mechanical and physical management at Fiske Pond have nearly eliminated the Water Chestnut, which now only sporadically occupies 2.8 acres of the original 40 acre infestation. The renewed open water space now provides habitat for native flora and fauna to re-populate, as well as increases water flow and dissolved oxygen levels within the waterbody. Hand harvesting for the limited amount of Water Chestnut will continue for several years until it is completely eradicated. The Fiske Pond Water Chestnut management project is a true success story; balance has been restored to the aquatic ecosystem and the community is once again enjoying canoeing and fishing in the pond.
Contact the experts at 888-480-LAKE (5253) for all of your lake, pond and fisheries management needs.
Jeff Castellani is the Director of Mechanical Operations with SOLitude Lake Management. Jeff has over a decade of chemical and mechanical aquatic and terrestrial management experience. He holds applicator licenses at the supervisory level in Connecticut, master level in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont with aquatic category, and additional applicators licenses in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. He maintains licensing and industry certificates for Construction Supervisor, OSHA, Qualified Rigger and Signal as well as Boater Safety.
Emily Walsh is an Environmental Scientist with SOLitude Lake Management who assists the mechanical division with invasive weed control services, surveys, reports, proposals and GIS mapping. She is currently licensed to apply pesticides in Massachusetts and Connecticut. She also has experience in terrestrial invasive species applications, particularly Common Reed (Phragmites australis) and Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica), along with aquatic nuisance vegetation applications.
SOLitude Lake Management is committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Lake, pond and fisheries management services, consulting, and aquatic products are available nationwide. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.