Scott Caven, Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator based out of the U.S. Geological Survey's Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center in La Crosse, is no stranger to receiving calls about suspicious aquatic species. Eurasian watermilfoil, purple loosestrife, zebra mussels, these are the usual suspects, but on September 9, 2015, someone called reporting an aquarium-like plant in the Vietnam Veteran's Pond at the Chad Erickson Memorial Park. Arriving at the scene, Caven discovered two new invaders, water hyacinth and water lettuce.
Both species are believed to be native to South America, and present a problem to most U.S. waterways. Capable of forming dense mats of vegetation blanketing the water surface, the plants can outcompete native species, reducing water quality and biodiversity.
After going through the proper channels, Caven and Brittany Harried, River Alliance's 2015 Aquatic Invasive Species Intern, removed all of the two plants present at the pond, filling a total of 13 30-gallon bags.
The pond will be monitored to ensure quick response if the species return.
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