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Maine Takes Immediate Action to Address Eurasian Watermilfoil
Thursday, December 2, 2004
(AUGUSTA)- - Stressing that “Maine is out front on this,” the state’s Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Dawn R. Gallagher today announced an immediate plan to combat the state’s first confirmed detection of Eurasian Watermilfoil. An infestation of this aggressive aquatic plant has been identified in a Scarborough gravel quarry. The DEP’s rapid response plan includes water draw down already underway. Dredging, herbicide treatments or the combination of these actions are likely in the coming spring.
“We were the last state in the lower 48 to be free of Eurasian Milfoil,” said Gallagher. “Now that it’s here, I want a thorough and aggressive response."
In addition to undertaking control strategies in the 28-acre private quarry, the DEP will contact residents and businesses in the area to determine all possible sources of introduction. The DEP will also seek help from local lake associations and the Maine Department of Conservation’s Natural Areas Program to increase surveillance of area ponds, lakes and streams.
First reported to DEP in late October by the quarry’s landowner, the presence of Eurasian Watermilfoil has been verified by Don Cameron, a botanist with the Natural Areas Program. DEP estimates this infestation to be at least five years old and has determined that it is well established throughout the quarry.
The quarry is private and offers no boating, swimming or fishing-the most likely routes of plant invasion in Maine lakes and ponds. “Without the usual suspects, DEP biologists are already surveying the outlet stream and nearby waters to determine whether the plant is isolated to this quarry,” said Commissioner Gallagher.
Never detected before in Maine, Eurasian Watermilfoil (scientific name: Myriophyllum spicatum) is a stubborn and fast-growing invasive plant that degrades water quality by displacing native plants, fish and other aquatic species. This plant also forms stems reaching up to 20 feet in length that cause fouling problems for swimmers or boaters when introduced into recreational lakes and ponds.
Eurasian Watermilfoil is able to dominate fresh water ecosystems quickly when fragmented by boat props and by way of buds and surface runners. The aquatic weed also tolerates a wide range of environmental conditions including low light levels, high or low nutrient waters, and freezing temperatures. For these reasons, Eurasian Watermilfoil can not only out-compete native aquatic plants, it can infest a lake more aggressively than Variable-leaf Milfoil, the most common invasive plant established in Maine.
Efforts to prevent, detect and manage aquatic invasive plants are made possible by boater participation in the Maine Lake and River Protection Sticker program.
Contact: Paul Gregory, Maine DEP, 207-287-6961
N.B.: Two excellent web sites exist for more information on Eurasian Watermilfoil:
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