For Immediate Release - July 15, 2014

DCR Partners with Watershed Groups to Remove Invasive Water Chestnut Plant Choking Mystic River

Somerville – Tuesday, July 15, 2014— Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett today joined Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Commissioner Jack Murray as well as state and local officials to celebrate the start of large-scale mechanical harvesting operations to remove the invasive water chestnut plants in the Mystic River. The project has been ongoing since August 1, 2013.  

“Invasive species cost the United States more than $120 billion in damages per year,” said Secretary Bartlett. “Working together with advocates and the communities we serve is critical to ensuring that waterways, like the Mystic River, do not succumb to this invasive species.”  

“Aquatic invasive species present a significant problem for recreation, wildlife and overall health of a river,” said Commissioner Murray. “Mechanical harvesting of water chestnuts is an efficient method of removal that can prevent long-term deterioration of these important urban river areas.

Water chestnuts are fast-growing invasive aquatic plants that choke waterways, damaging recreational opportunities and natural habitats. These plants displace native species, reduce biodiversity, hamper recreational uses and diminish the aesthetic value of bodies of water. They can negatively impact native vegetation and fish populations by forming large dense mats of vegetation on the water surface, intercepting sunlight to the exclusion of other submerged plants. This depletes the available oxygen in the water, which can lead to fish kills and harm other aquatic organisms.  

The harvesting project in the Mystic River targets more than 40 infested acres from the Route 16 bridge in Medford to the Amelia Earhart Dam in Somerville.  DCR received support from the Mystic River Watershed Association, the City of Medford, the Riverside Yacht Club and the Mystic Wellington Yacht Club, who together raised $25,000 to assist with the project.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), an agency of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, oversees 450,000 acres of parks and forests, beaches, bike trails, watersheds, dams and parkways. Led by Commissioner Jack Murray, the agency’s mission is to protect, promote and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural and recreational resources. To learn more about DCR, our facilities and our programs, please visit www.mass.gov/dcr. Contact us at mass.parks@state.ma.us.