Water Chestnut Pull on the Mattabesset River

Saturday, July 9: Launching on the Coginchaug River in Middletown, Connecticut, we paddled past this interesting root mass on our way out to the Mattabesset River. Our task for the day: see how much invasive water chestnut we could pull in about three hours. It was a beautiful day to be on the water – sunny, with enough wind to keep the bugs and the heat at bay.

This was a portion of the crew. I like that the age range was from about four to well past retirement age; I’m also very glad to see so many young, strong, enthusiastic participants! It bodes well for our waterways. You can see filled sacks on top of the boats.

This is what the beginnings of an infestation look like – the water chestnut grows to completely cover the water surface, out competing native plants, harming aquatic life and making recreation difficult. I filled two burlap sacks; here’s one as I finished for the day. (The other is behind me in the kayak.)

And here is part of the haul – I think they counted 27 sacks, not counting the ones that were collected in a power boat for transport. They get composted, for the most part; apparently some people collect the plant matter to use as mulch. I was told that critters don’t like it! But the idea is to remove it from the waterway, and not let it return.

This is a great natural area; we saw herons, an osprey, lots of turtles, some fish. And we were well exercised, with some brisk paddling, and lots of pulling of plants. Most of us ended up wet and muddy, and well satisfied by our day on the water. If you live near the Connecticut River, and want to come out and play with plants, contact the Connecticut River Conservancy; I have pulled water chestnut in Vermont and Connecticut, and there are pulling parties in Massachusetts, as well!

Pulling Water Chestnut, Mattabesset River

A pack of paddlers showed up for the first of the season water chestnut pull in Middletown, Connecticut. The plants are small this time of year – and tender, making it harder to get the root and the seed so that they don’t regrow. These plants have the potential to completely cover an area, shading out the local plants. But we bagged a bunch, while also enjoying the ospreys fishing, the great blue herons,

the mallards, and swans with their cygnets

and some turtles.

It was hot and sunny, a good day to be on the water. Pulling these plants was easier before the wind came up, but even then one could make it work to advantage, letting the wind push the boat down onto some plants, then grabbing and pulling – gently!