Volunteers help harvest invasive plant at Meshanticut Pond

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Volunteers descended on Meshanticut Pond over the weekend as part of an ongoing effort to control an invasive plant at the local recreational site.

According to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, 20 volunteers took part in a morning session on Saturday, along with 16 during the afternoon. That followed work by a group of 21 volunteers on Aug. 1.

The community harvesting events – the last of which will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 18 – are focused on curbing the growth of a sacred lotus patch on the pond.

DEM describes the plant – known scientifically as Nelumbo nucifera – as a “highly-aggressive, invasive species that threatens a healthy balance of native plants … impedes fishing and boating opportunities and will be costly to manage over the next several years.” Prior to the harvesting, the patch covered approximately 1.25 acres of the 12-acre pond.

During the harvesting events, some volunteers took to the water in kayaks and canoes and cut lotus seed pods from stems. Other volunteers remained ashore to unload containers of the seed pods for disposal.

According to DEM, roughly 1½ dumpsters were filled between the Thursday and Saturday sessions.

Volunteers are still being sought for the final harvesting event. For more information or to register, visit dem.ri.gov or follow DEM on Facebook or Twitter.

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