The aquatic plant known as the water chestnut (trapa natans, not the kind you eat in Chinese food) showed its invasive potential in recent summers at many points along the Connecticut River and its tributaries. In our own Floating Meadows, the freshwater, tidal marshland formed where the lower Coginchaug and Mattabesset Rivers converge, the presence of these plants was first recorded in 2009. The Jonah Center has been monitoring the area closely since 2013, pulling out a few plants each year.
The summer of 2016 marked a turning point. Since then, water chestnut plants have abounded, forming expansive, dense patches at multiple locations. in 2016, the Jonah Center and its partners removed approximately 48 canoes full in the course of 8 separate work parties. The pattern continued in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Then came the pandemic of 2020, when our ability to assemble large work parties became no longer feasible. Continue reading