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Hop on Board: The hydrilla guerillas are here

By Gloria Putnam, North Carolina Sea Grant
September 5, 2015

Eds. note: This Soundings post is republished courtesy of North Carolina Sea Grant.  It originally appeared in their new blog, Coastwatch Currents

I am constantly amazed by what can happen with even a small group of people when lines of communication are open. Just six months ago I helped the Chowan Edenton Environmental Group organize an informational meeting in Edenton on aquatic invasive plants in the Chowan River and Albemarle Sound. It was to be one in a series aimed at raising awareness about local environmental issues and climate change concerns.

I couldn’t have imagined on that cold wet Saturday in February how individuals and organizations would come together in the following weeks and begin addressing Hydrilla verticilla, likely the most threatening aquatic invasive plant to establish itself in the area. But they decided to take this plant and its potential impacts on the health of our estuarine systems seriously.

Here’s a snapshot of current activities:

  • To allow others to learn about the issue on their own time, we made a brief educational video entitled, Hydrilla: An Emerging Concern for the Albemarle Sound. The piece features local residents and experts and is appropriate for all age groups. Please share it widely!
    • Partners: North Carolina Sea Grant, Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership and North Carolina State University Department of Crop Science.
  • A citizen volunteer group in Chowan County has been organized, trained, equipped and is out on the water sampling to see where hydrilla currently exists. We will use that data to track how it is spreading and to develop community response strategies. In less than three weeks, these volunteers have gathered data for much of the eastern side of the Chowan River. Volunteer John Sams, refers to himself and his wife as hydrilla guerillas! Pretty catchy, huh?
    • Partners: Sea Grant, Chowan County Soil and Water Conservation District, NC State Crop Science, Chowan Edenton Environmental Group, and NC State Science House.
  • A regional meeting was held in late August (really, it’s true) for county officials to learn about hydrilla and begin discussing cooperative strategies to control it. Bertie County is already considering how to organize its own volunteer observation group.
    • Partners: Northeast Alliance; Counties of Chowan, Bertie, Perquimans, Gates and Tyrell; and NC State Crop Science.

Again: Wow! Much has happened in a short period of time. What will be next?

To learn more, visit ncseagrant.ncsu.edu/hydrilla.

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