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Bill Hinkley

Bill Hinkley

Program Director, Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET)

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Each spring, boaters, kayakers, canoeists, and anglers all look forward to getting out on the lakes and rivers of Massachusetts to pursue their recreational interests. Before heading out, the public should be aware of aquatic invasive species and how to prevent their spread.

Last month, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection announced that Didymosphenia geminate, also known as Didymoor Rock Snot, was found in the West Branch Farmington River in northwestern Connecticut. Didymo(1)Didymo is a freshwater diatom (type of algae) found in streams and rivers in much of North America that thrives in cold, clear water and attaches to rocks and other hard surfaces. While most occurrences of Didymo do not cause problems, under certain environmental conditions (which are not clearly understood), this species will produce severe “blooms” forming large mats of algae on the bottom of rivers and streams which can harm aquatic systems.

The Farmington River has its headwaters in the communities of Becket, Tolland, Otis, and Sandisfield Massachusetts. Didymo “blooms” have not been observed in Massachusetts, but blooms have occurred in Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut and there are currently no known way to control or eradicate this algal species.

Help preserve the waters of the Commonwealth by following these instructions to prevent unwanted aquatic hitchhikers. The following tips from DCR can help you join the fight against Didymo.(Please note there are some techniques that apply specifically to preventing the spread of zebra mussels.) Also consider alternatives to felt-soled waders. The porous felt can harbor many Didymo cells and felt soles are thought to be a primary vector for Didymo. It is hard to thoroughly disinfect and dry the felt and the cells can stay viable for a long time.

CHECK
Always check your boat and equipment before leaving a water body. Remove any visible plants, clumps of algae or aquatic animals from all gear and empty all bait bucket water, live well water, and cooling water on dry land away from shore.

CLEAN
If you have been in a river or stream, clean:
Non-absorbent Items
Soak item in hot 113°F (uncomfortable to the touch) water for at least 20 minutes. Water must remain at or above 113°F for the entire soaking to be effective.
or
For one full minute soak or spray a film of either 5 percent solution of dish soap and water (1 cup detergent per gallon of water) or 2 percent solution of bleach (1/2 cup bleach per gallon of water)

Absorbent Items (especially felt-soled waders)
Soak items for 30 minutes in a 5 percent solution dish soap and hot 113°F (uncomfortable to the touch) water. The water must remain hot during the entire soaking to be effective.

DRY
Whenever possible, especially if gear was not cleaned, allow items to completely dry and wait at least 48 additional hours before re-using.

“Clean – Drain – Dry” is the simple way to rememember what needs to be done each time you leave a waterbody.   

Are you curious and want to know more?  Check out these resources for further information.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Didymo resources http://www.mass.gov/dcr/watersupply/lakepond/downloads/DidymoBrochure.pdf
http://www.mass.gov/dcr/watersupply/lakepond/hottopic/ht_didymo.pdf

Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Didymo announcement

U.S. Department of Agriculture Information on Didymo

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Coast Guard aquatic invasive information

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