Volunteers sought to monitor Naiad in Milton 3 Ponds; meetings set for next week

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The European Naiad

Editor's note: Below the story is a Maine DEP map that details the European naiad infestation in Milton Three Ponds.

Conservation committees from Lebanon and Milton are hosting informative meetings to discuss a recently discovered invasive weed, the European Naiad, which has been found in Milton Three Ponds.

The meetings are designed to be a public outreach so residents of both towns can learn about plans for controlling and eradicating the plant, and if anyone is interested in learning how they can help.

Volunteers are needed to help locate, quantify and monitor the weed's presence.

Meetings will be next Wednesday in Milton at the Nute High cafeteria and next Thursday, June 23, in the Martha Sawyer Community Library located at the Hanson School.

Both meetings begin at 6:30 p.m.

John McPhedran of the Maine Department of Environmental Services said in a Lebanon Voice article late last year that, "From what I've seen it's very dense. I can't say exactly how bad it is, but any invasive plant could alter the food availability for fisheries."

McPhedran said the area most severely affected by the European naiad thus far is the Lebanon side of Northeast Pond just east of where the Salmon Falls River flows into it.

He said Northeast Pond has shallow areas far from shore that could easily hold the plants, which can grow to around seven feet.

European naiad was first discovered in Milton Three Ponds by an invasive plant spotter volunteer while snorkeling in Northeast Pond late last summer.

While snorkeling was used exclusively to assess the weeds infiltration in Northeast Pond, Town House Pond and Milton Pond were inspected by both boats and snorkelers.

Milton Pond and Town House Pond showed no European naiad presence, however, the channel or "River" from Northeast to Milton pond did, McPhedran said.

European naiad can overtake native lake habitats by shading and outcompeting ecologically valuable aquatic plants. A productive, one-acre infestation can generate tens of millions of seeds per season. Dense infestations can alter water chemistry and oxygen levels in the water which can impact other plants and fish.

Milton Three Ponds is currently home to varied fish stocks, including black crappie, rainbow trout, brown trout, chain pickerel, horn pout, white perch and smallmouth and largemouth bass.

European naiad has also been confirmed in a Kittery pond and in a handful of New Hampshire water bodies this growing season.

The invasive plant had been documented previously in two New Hampshire water bodies, but populations declined on their own without management, according to Amy Smagula of the New Hampshire DES who is the lead biologist from the Granite State.

European naiad is an annual plant, which produces seeds on plant leaves that can easily be broken into fragments and carried to a new area.

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