Volunteer Opportunities for Paddlers (and non-paddlers alike) In Cranston!
RIDEM is seeking volunteers to help during community harvest events to collect the seed pods of a very aggressive, invasive plant at Meshanticut Pond in Meshanticut State Park. Paddling volunteers must provide their own canoe or kayak and life jacket, but there are also opportunities for volunteers to stay ashore and help unload buckets of lotus pods for disposal – many hands make light work! Volunteers should bring handheld garden pruning shears to cut the lotus seed pods from the stem and a bucket (or laundry basket) to collect them in their canoe or kayak. Seed pods must be removed after the plants have flowered but before they drop the seeds (toward the end of August and into Fall) to slow down plant regrowth. A few community events will be scheduled at the end of July and into the beginning of August, so interested volunteers should sign up, and share their availability with us so we can pick the best dates for everyone to gather – click here to register NOW: Volunteer Form
Volunteers must sign-up by providing availability using the link above by COB July 17, 2019, and then the event dates will be set based on the best available date to amass the most volunteers, including selection of a few rain dates – so keep your eyes peeled for details in an email!
More info on this plant: Invasive Sacred Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) was officially documented for the first time in Rhode Island in Meshanticut Pond last year, in July 2018. Although believed to have been growing for about 5 years, aerial photographs show this lotus patch to be growing at an exponential rate, measured at 0.25 acres in 2016 and by August 2018, it covered over 1.25 acres of Meshanticut Pond (only 12 acres). Sacred Lotus, although beautiful to behold, is an aggressive, invasive plant, and its massive leaves easily cover large areas. This impedes fishing opportunities and boating in the pond, threatens a healthy balance of native plants, and will be costly to manage over the next several years. Although it may be found in small, isolated, backyard water gardens or curated in pots at botanical gardens, it is not native to Rhode Island, and is the first record of it in a natural area in the state. Regionally, this is significant because it has not been found in any other New England states except one lake in Massachusetts. Therefore, it is imperative that the growth of this invasive is culled, and the population managed as not to spread to other areas in Rhode Island, or New England. Lotus plants will reproduce by seed and root system, but removal of the seed pods will reduce the number of new plants and help eliminate opportunities for seeds to move downstream. Future control efforts may include use of chemical herbicides, but manually harvesting the seed pods this summer will reduce the amount of herbicides necessary to treat the lotus patch.