A key goal of the Department of Conservation and Recreation's Lakes and Ponds Program is to prevent further infestation of Massachusetts 's lakes and ponds by exotic invasive aquatic plants, and to work towards controlling and removing existing populations of exotic invasive plants. To meet this goal we have developed a program to train local lake groups to monitor their ponds for the presence of exotic invasive species and to develop a removal plan if an infestation is found. If a pioneer infestation of invasive exotic species is identified early, there is a greater chance that the plant can be eradicated before it becomes established in the lake or pond. Once invasive species are established they are almost impossible to remove and very expensive to control. Invasive species spread rapidly and form dense mats that can make boating, fishing and swimming impossible. As the recreational and aesthetic value of the lake declines, property values around the lake also decrease.

By monitoring your lake or pond you are taking an active role in ensuring the protection of your lake for the future.

Weed Watcher Responsibilities

The Volunteer Invasive Species Monitoring Team will:

  • Join a network of groups that are part of the Lakes and Ponds MA Weed Watchers Program.
  • Receive training in the identification and removal of invasive species, training materials, boat ramp signs, permitting guidelines, standard operating procedures for aquatic plant removal techniques and reporting forms.
  • Patrol their lake every other week during the summer for the presence of invasive species in key locations (boat ramps, inlets and shallow coves etc).
  • Complete and return a yearly summary of the monitoring results.
  • If a potential infestation is found, the Weed Watchers group will work with the Invasive Species Task Force to identify the species and to develop and implement a removal plan.
  • The Lakes and Ponds Program will offer guidance with permitting issues and standard operating procedures.
  • The state web site will highlight the efforts of the Weed Watcher groups.

Description of the Weed Watcher Training Class

Each spring and summer the Lakes and Ponds Program schedules Weed Watcher training for any interested lake groups or associations. The 2 hour class begins with an introduction to the invasive non-native species issue, how exotic species are introduced into our waterways, methods of dispersal, basic terminology, and guidance on performing bi-weekly monitoring and completing plant surveys. The remaining 3/4 of the class will engage volunteers in hands-on identification. A variety of non-native and native plant species are provided, and people are encouraged to bring in their own samples. Volunteers will become familiar with using a dichotomous key and, although the emphasis is on exotic species, the goal is to teach volunteers to understand how to use the key so that they will be able to identify the majority of common aquatic plants in their lake or pond (native or otherwise).

The group will receive a Weed Watcher Packet that contains: reporting forms, Standard Operating Procedures (for Hand Pulling and Benthic Barriers), New England Guide to Aquatic Plants, Guide to Selected Non-native Plants in Massachusetts, Laminated Field Guide, Invasive Species brochure and poster, boat ramp signs, a power point presentation CD and other useful information. The Lakes and Ponds Program requests that the participating groups complete and return the reporting forms each summer, so that the aquatic invasive exotic species data base can be enlarged.