In response to the increasing spread of invasive non-native aquatic species throughout our water bodies, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Lakes and Ponds Program has developed the Boat Ramp Monitor Program. The goals of the program are to prevent pristine water bodies from becoming infested; to reduce further spread of the exotic plants from infested areas, and to educate boaters about non-native species and the steps they can take to protect our lakes and ponds.
Non-native or exotic species are plants or animals that are indigenous to other parts of the country or world, and when they are introduced to a new area often disrupt the balance of the new ecosystem. Many non-native plants reproduce very rapidly, displacing native species and developing mats at the water’s surface that render boating, fishing, swimming and other recreational activities impossible or dangerous. Once introduced to a new area, they are further spread around to additional water bodies on boat motors, trailers, fishing gear and in bait buckets. Even one small plant fragment is capable of infesting an entire lake or pond. When a non-native species is established it is very expensive to control and nearly impossible to eradicate. Prevention is the key!
Boat ramp monitors have been placed at both infested and un-infested lakes and ponds statewide. Their goal is to inspect every boat entering or leaving to make sure that no plant fragments are attached the boat, trailer or gear. Boaters are given an informational brochure, asked to participate in a voluntary boat inspection and complete a brief survey.
If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact Tom Flannery at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ramp Monitor 2008 Summary
During the five years, since the launch of this program in 2004, DCR boat ramp monitors have conducted 11,572 surveys and inspected 10,941 boats. Of the boats inspected, 2132 (19.5%) were carrying plant fragments and of these fragments, 879 (41.2%) fragments were non-native. (The rest were either native or to dry to identify). These were considered saves because the removal/disposal of these exotic plants prior to the boat entering or leaving a water body likely prevented a new introduction or the spread of that species. This cost saving measure potentially spared the Commonwealth thousands of dollars in invasive species management, had any of these 879 plants become established and had control measures been implemented.
Overall, 77.5% of boaters were aware of aquatic invasive species, and 75.8% of boaters were aware that they can be spread on boats, gear, trailers and in bait buckets/ live well water. 97.5% of the boaters surveyed were willing to wash or inspect their boats.
In 2008, 3537 surveys were conducted at 17 public ramps statewide. 21% of the boats inspected were transporting plant fragments. Of these fragments, 279 (40%) were non-native and were removed from the boats/gear and discarded.
During June and July 2008, DCR Lakes and Ponds Program partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Silvio O. Conte Refuge to hand pull water chestnut from water bodies in the Connecticut River watershed. Two DCR ramp monitors participated and together they hand pulled over 2.6 tons of water chestnut!