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EUROPEAN FROGBIT

(Hydrocharis morsus-ranae)
MANAGEMENT PLAN
FOR

TOWN FARM BAY WETLAND


Charlotte, Vermont
2009 – 2015
Revised October 2010

PREPARED AND REVISED BY:

Sara Kuebbing, Sue Smith, Mollie Wills, Lewis Creek Association

442 Lewis Creek Road

Charlotte, VT 05445

With funding from VT Agency of Natural Resources, The Kelsey Trust, U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service, Town of Shelburne, Town of Charlotte, Lake Champlain Basin Program and the Lewis
Creek Association
Table of Contents
1. INTRODUCTION………………………………………………………………..………….3

A. Description of the site and purpose of the study……………………………….....…. 3

B. Description of how invasive, exotic plants interfere with conservation goals………..4

C. History of exotic, invasive plant control in wetland…………………………..……... 5

D. Inventory of plant species and Weed Management Plan goals ………………………6

E. Elevated nutrient levels and impacts on plant communities in the bay………...……. 6

2. OVERVIEW OF WEED MANAGEMENT PLAN……………………………………….. 6

A. General Management Philosophy………………………………………… ……….....7

3. SPECIFIC CONTROL PLANS FOR EUROPEAN FROGBIT……...…………………... 8

A. Description…………………………………………………………..………………... 8

B. Current Distribution on the Site ……………………………………………………….8

C. Damage and Threats…………………………………………………………………... 9

D. Goals……………………………………………….....………………………………. 9

E. Objectives………………………………………………….………………………….. 9

F. Management Options…………………………………………………………………. .9

4. SPECIFIC ACTIONS PLANNED …………………………………………………...….....10

5. REFERENCES ………………………………………………………………….....………...12

6. APPENDICES …………………………………......……………………..………………….19


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Appendix A: Maps…………………...……………………..………………………..….19

Appendix B: Natural History Log……………..…………..………………………..….. 20

Appendix C: Plant Identification Guide .......…………………………………..………..21

Appendix D: Daily Log Sheets…………………………………………………………..22


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1. INTRODUCTION

A. Description of the site and purpose of the study

Town Farm Bay is located in the southwest corner of Charlotte. At the eastern edge of Town
Farm Bay Thorp and Kimball Brooks enter into Lake Champlain and form a large and diverse
wetland complex. The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, the Town of Charlotte and
ecologists have recognized this wetland complex as a premier wetland housing excellent
examples of many natural communities.

The natural communities documented within the wetland complex are a large deep bulrush
marsh, cattail marsh, a state-rare buttonbush swamp, and a shallow emergent marsh. There are
several rare plants including the Handsome Sedge (Carex formosa), Loose Sedge (Carex
laxiculmis), and the globally rare False Hop Sedge (Carex lupuliformis). Surrounding the
wetland are intact floodplain forests containing mature silver maples as large as 25-inches in
diameter. Further inland, state-rare Valley Clayplain forests are found, including the 63-acre
Williams Woods parcel owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy. This continuum of
relatively undisturbed natural communities has led to Thorp Brook Mouth receiving recognition
as “one of the finest wetland complexes on the shores of Lake Champlain” (Thompson &
Perlow, 2005) and “a rare, intact cross-section of landscape from open water to bottomland
forest.” (Lapin, 1991). Furthermore, a study by Thompson and Perlow in 2005 suggested and
provided documentation that these wetlands are worthy of Class One designation, which is
reserved for the highest-quality wetlands in the state that “are exceptional or irreplaceable in
their contribution to Vermont’s natural heritage” (Vermont Wetland Rules, 2002).

The size and health of the Thorp Brook Mouth wetlands provide ample habitat for Vermont
wildlife. Canada geese, Common Moorhen, Great Egret, Least Bittern, American Bittern,
Common Tern, Royal Tern, Wood Duck, Mallard Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal,
Osprey, Kingfisher, and Great Blue Heron are frequently seen in the wetland. Many species of
migratory songbirds, including the American Redstart and Yellow Warbler are found in
surrounding forested areas. In a 2004 survey for the Vermont Breeding Bird Atlas 41 species of
bird were confirmed as breeding in the area and an additional 20 species were designated as
“likely-breeding” but not confirmed. In 2010, a birding group identified 39 species of birds in the
wetland. Additionally, the wetlands provide important breeding and feeding habitat for over 11
species of fish and 10 species of amphibians and reptiles. Many mammal species are also found
along the drainage, including America otter, beaver, mink, muskrat, and bobcat, due to the rich
mosaic of natural communities that provide important forested corridors for larger animals
moving from upland to lowland areas (Thompson & Perlow, 2005).

B. Description of how invasive, exotic plants interfere with conservation goals

The Charlotte Conservation Commission hired wildlife biologists and botanists to study and map
the natural communities along Thorp and Kimball Brooks in 2004. They have subsequently spent
money and effort in publishing brochures and pamphlets noting the natural importance of the


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area and how residents can help protect the town’s valuable assets. Thorp Brook Mouth and its
associated wetlands are public access lands and therefore are unmanaged by any single entity.
However, the importance of the wetland complex to the state and town makes it a key site to
insure invasive plants are controlled and managed to protect the area’s overall ecological health.

The wetlands of Town Farm Bay are particularly vulnerable to invasive plant introductions due
the high number of recreational and fishing boats that access the area, potentially transporting
invasive plant seeds and viable root matter. Additionally, this wetland’s large opening into Town
Farm Bay and Lake Champlain allows for natural movement of non-native invasive plants by
current and wind from source populations within the lake. Wetlands in general have been noted
as highly susceptible to exotic plant invasions and many of these invaders form dense monotypic
stands. Large infestations of invasive plants in wetlands have been linked to decreasing
biodiversity, in both the actual number and “quality” of representative species. This is
accomplished by out-competing and pushing out many native species, disrupting nutrient cycling
by discharging or collecting disproportionate amounts of nitrogen, oxygen or important nutrients,
altering habitat structure via loss of plant diversity and thus loss of differing forms and types of
vegetation, and modifying native food webs in areas (Zedler & Kercher, 2004). In a 1988 study
by Caitling, dense mats of European Frogbit decreased native plant diversity in wetlands in
northern New York and Ontario.

A population of exotic, invasive plants in Town Farm Bay wetland threatens to degrade the
individual natural communities within the wetland complex and viability of the complex as a
whole. The loss of the functional wetland would furthermore disrupt the integrity of the clayplain
and floodplain forests and decrease wildlife diversity within the town. If control options of
certain aquatic and wetland invasive plants are addressed early by the Town of Charlotte and its
residents the likelihood of maintaining this as a Class One-qualified wetland designation is good.

C. History of exotic, invasive plant control in the wetland

In the spring of 2007 Charlotte residents Dianne Leary and Susan Smith noticed four
undocumented exotic invasive plant species in Thorp Brook Mouth: yellow-flag iris, European
frogbit, Eurasian milfoil and curly-leaved pondweed. After receiving confirmation from the
Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation that these plants were exotic, Leary and
Smith began to explore the best ways to monitor and control the populations. During the summer
of 2007 and 2008, Smith and Leary recruited volunteers to begin manually handpicking frogbit
from the wetland. Community volunteer efforts were not effective in controlling the frogbit
population.

In the winter of 2008, the issue was brought forth at an initial meeting of interested parties
including The Nature Conservancy, VT Agency of Natural Resources, Lake Champlain Basin
Program, Lewis Creek Association, and Charlotte Conservation Commission. With the help of
TNC, ANR, LCA, and LCBP a management plant was created as an initial guiding document for
the town to compare and consider exotic, invasive plant management options (Kuebbing, 2007).
In the winter of 2008 the Lewis Creek Association, a regional conservation organization,


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acquired funding from the Lake Champlain Basin Program and VT State Clean & Clear Program
to hire a field crew and project coordinators to begin more extensive control efforts of European
frogbit in the wetland. The grants awarded paid for 1,216 hours of field crew time and was
complemented with 108 hours of community volunteer time.

In 2010-11, funding from the VT Agency of Natural Resources, The Kelsey Trust, U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, Town of Shelburne, Town of Charlotte, Lake Champlain Basin Program and
the many friends of Lewis Creek Association is allowing for the expansion of European frogbit
removal efforts in the Thorp and Kimball wetland complex. Two project coordinators were hired
in 2010 to manage a nine-person removal team, and a volunteer coordinator was hired to manage
volunteer efforts. Total 2010 grant funds used amounted to approximately $34,000. The grants
awarded paid for 2,242 field crew hours, which was complemented by 253 volunteer hours.

This management plan is informed by the summer field seasons of 2009 and 2010.

D. Inventory of plant species and Weed Management Plan goals

Though this management plan focuses on the control of European frogbit (Hydrocharis morsus-
ranae) in the wetland, it is important to note the other invasive plants found within the wetland
system. Sometimes, the removal of a single invasive species will promote the growth of another
invasive plant, instead of desired outcome of more native plants. Management of European
frogbit should be coordinated with monitoring and potential management of other invasive
species. This plan could be amended to include the management recommendations for all
invasive plants.

The following exotic, invasive plants have been observed in Thorp Brook Mouth: flowering rush
(Butomus umbellatus), yellow-flag iris (Iris pseudacorus), purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria).
These are emergent aquatic plants found within the shallow sedge and bulrush marsh edges.
Submergent exotic, invasive vegetation includes European milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) and
curly-leaved pondweed (Potamogeton crispus).

E. Elevated nutrient levels and impacts on plant communities in the bay

Charlotte citizens have observed an increase in plant life, both native and non-native, in the
wetland over the last 2 decades (John Freidin, John Douglas, Steve Gutowski, Sharon Beal,
Dianne Leary, Bradley Carleton, personal communication) that is now to a point where boats
have extreme trouble paddling through aquatic plant mats. During the 2009 season, field crew
noted that native aquatic plants, such as elodea (Elodea canadensis) and bladderwort (Utricularia
vulgaris), also appear to have “weedy” populations. This population boom of plant life indicates
that there is an underlying disturbance within the wetland.


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The Lewis Creek Association and local residents are undertaking a long-term water quality study
of Town Farm Bay and the Thorp and Kimball watersheds. Preliminary data indicates that both
historical and contemporary land-management activity within the Thorp and Kimball watersheds
are causing increase nutrient loading – primarily phosphorus– into the bay. Bay Phosphorus
levels are comparable to those in Mississquoi Bay and indicate that ecological values and
popular uses such as fishing, hunting and boating are negatively impacted.

Eutrophication of aquatic communities has been correlated with an increase in invasibility


(presence of invasive plants) (Davis et al, 2000) of habitats, and it is likely that the increased
plant biomass, of both native and non-native plants, is due to these elevated levels of nutrient.
Concurrent management of excess nutrients flowing into the bay and wetland will assist
management of any invasive plants within the Town Farm Bay wetlands. Similarly, as nutrient
levels decrease, control of exotic, invasive plants should be at the forefront, to insure that limited
nutrient levels will not result in decreased native plant diversity.

2. OVERVIEW OF WEED MANAGEMENT PLAN

A. General Management Philosophy

Invasive, exotic plant control is part of the overall site management and restoration program. We
focus on the species and communities we want in place of the invasive exotic species, rather than
on simply eliminating plants. We will implement preventative programs to keep the site free of
species that are not yet established there but which are known to be pests elsewhere in the region.
We will set priorities for the control or elimination of invasive exotic species that have already
established on the site, according to their actual and potential impacts on native species and
communities. We will take action only when careful consideration indicates leaving the weed
unchecked will result in more damage than controlling it with available methods.

We use an adaptive management strategy. First, we establish and record the goals for the site.
Second, we identify species that block us from reaching these goals and assign them priorities
based on the severity of their impacts. Third, we consider methods for controlling them or
otherwise diminishing their impacts and, if necessary, re-order priorities based on likely impacts
on target and non-target species. Fourth, we develop control plans based on this information.
Fifth, the plan is implemented, and results of our management actions monitored. Sixth, we
evaluate the effectiveness of our methods in light of the site goals, and use this information to
modify and improve control priorities, methods and plans. Finally, start the cycle again by
establishing new/modified goals.

We set priorities in the hope of minimizing the total, long-term workload. Therefore, we act to
prevent new infestations and assign highest priority to existing infestations that are the fastest
growing, most disruptive, and affect the most highly valued area(s) of the site. We also consider
the difficulty of control, giving higher priority to infestations we think we are most likely to
control with available technology and resources.


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3. SPECIFIC CONTROL PLANS FOR EUROPEAN FROGBIT

Scientific name: Hydrocharis mosrus-ranae

Common name: European frogbit, European frog’s bit

A. DESCRIPTION

European frogbit is an herbaceous, annual aquatic plant that resembles aquatic water lilies.
Frogbit leaves are leathery, round, heart-shaped and ranging in size from 0.5 – 2.25 inches
(smaller than other native aquatic lily leaves). Unlike other native lilies, frogbit is typically found
free-floating in still, open waters or caught among other wetland vegetation. It has a well-
developed root system that typically tangles the plant among itself and other vegetation. In Town
Farm Bay, frogbit has been found loosely rooted to the wetland bottom in shallow areas where
lake level change is most dramatic. Plant size varied dramatically throughout the 2009 and 2010
field seasons. New plants were found through early August.

In July, frogbit produces a small, three-petal white flowers with yellow center that blooms above
the water’s surface. Most plants are dioecoious (male and female flowers are located on separate
plants) and populations tend to either be entirely one-sex or have a skewed sex ratio with a
heavily male bias. Because of these factors, sexual reproduction in studied populations of frogbit
is not important in the spread and propagation of the plant. Primary reproduction of this plant is
achieved asexually through the production of thick, cord-like stolons and turions, small buds that
appear in late fall on the stolons. Due to rapid stolon growth, a single frogbit plant can grow from
.5 inches to over 40 inches long in an eight-week period. At the end of the season, turions break
off the plant, sink to the wetland bottom where they remain dormant during the winter, and
reemerge in the spring to form a new population of plants. Turion production in a single plant
has been estimated to be as high as 100 buds per plant, which indicate the plant’s ability to
spread and proliferate at great speed. Turion production began in late-July during the 2009 field
season and mid-July during the 2010 season. Well-developed turions were noted in mid-
September of the 2010 season. When handled these turions broke off easily from the frogbit
stolons, indicating that they were most likely dropping off plants during this time.

During the 2009 and 2010 field seasons, field crew noted that some frogbit plants were being
heavily browsed upon by aquatic organisms (potentially snails or insects that feed on other native
lilies). This did not appear to impact the reproductive ability of these plants, but further study of
this could be helpful in determining if other species may provide a natural control mechanism for
the species.

B. CURRENT DISTRIBUTION ON THE SITE

Frogbit is currently found in dense patches throughout the entire 43.3-acre wetland complex.
Densest patches are found near the wetland’s entrance to the bay, in the bulrushes along the
Thorp Brook branch, the back cove near the Kimball Brook mouth, and along almost the entire
perimeter of the wetland. Medium and low-density patches also occur near the cattail stands in
Thorp and Kimball Brooks. Because it is free-floating, frogbit rarely appears in the open


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channels with faster moving water but instead congregates in sheltered niches created by
bulrushes, cattails, and other emergent vegetation. In the back areas of the bay near the mouth of
Thorp Brook the population of frogbit is denser and covering a greater area (See Appendix A).

C. DAMAGE & THREATS

As noted in the introduction, frogbit has been recorded as lowering native plant diversity when it
occurs in thick mats (Caitling, 1988). The ability of frogbit to form long stolons allows it to
spread rapidly and form dense mats that cover a large area. These mats will decrease light
penetration to a wetland’s benthic layer, which could negatively impact aquatic flora and fauna.
In shallow water areas, decomposition of frogbit mats decrease dissolved oxygen levels and
further disrupts native vegetation and animals. Dense patches of frogbit will also inhibit boat
traffic and waterfowl use of an area.

D. GOALS

-- To test the efficacy of hand-pulling the European frogbit population within the wetland.

-- To monitor control areas and compare to areas left un-harvested.

-- Further define the extent of the infestation

-- Record removal methods, costs, and densities over time

-- Develop a detailed long-term management plan

-- Increase public understanding of the bay’s ecological significance and necessary prevention
measures

-- Solicit a volunteer work team for ongoing stewardship

-- Develop a model for other Frogbit prevention and removal projects in Vermont lakes,
wetlands, streams and ponds

E. OBJECTIVES

-- To annually monitor and control frogbit populations in the Thorp and Kimball wetland
complex.

F. MANAGEMENT OPTIONS

Viable control options are:


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(a) No treatment

(b) Mechanical

(i) Hand pulling

Currently, the only control option for frogbit control is hand harvesting the plant during the
growing season. This has been reported as only providing temporary and limited relief for small
populations. If new frogbit populations are caught during their first year of infestation, before
over-wintering turions are formed, frogbit may be eliminated from an area. All parts of harvested
plants should be removed from the water body and should be dried or composted in a site away
from wetland areas (See attached Best Management Practices for frogbit composting guidelines).

4. SPECIFIC ACTIONS PLANNED

Site Access and Equipment

The first two seasons of the Lewis Creek Association’s pilot program to remove European
frogbit from the Town Farm Bay wetlands has demonstrated that removal of the plant is possible
through hand-harvesting. However, due to the size and levels of infestation at this site, a
sustained effort will likely need to continue for 1-3 more years to adequately control frogbit
populations. At least one more sweep should be conducted of the entire wetland complex before
the project can be transferred to volunteer stewardship. Increased public awareness and engaged
local volunteers should be a priority for future management years. Future pulling years will need
to focus on re-pulling in treated areas as well as harvesting in new areas (See Appendix A).

Community Outreach

In 2009, during the first season of frogbit removal, three public presentations were held
throughout the local community. This proved to be an excellent way to increase community
involvement and develop a loyal, long term volunteer base.

The Lewis Creek Association had a strong presence at the Charlotte Town Party in both 2009
and 2010, effectively spreading awareness about the project to the community. In addition,
frogbit alert posters were posted at public boat launch sites: Lewis Creek, Converse Bay, Point
Bay Marina, and Shelburne Pond. A reconnaissance survey of Shelburne Pond was conducted
and written materials were produced to inform a volunteer monitoring plan in Shelburne.

News articles were published in The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) volunteer newsletter, VT
Department of Environmental Conservations Water Quality Division’s Out of the Blue
newsletter, and on-line on LCA’s, TNC’s and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources’
websites. Newspaper articles about the project were published in the Charlotte News on May 20
and August 26, 2010, in the Burlington Free Press on June 6, in the Charlotte Citizen on June 10,
and in Rural Route on July 11.


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During the 2010 Lake Champlain International Fishing Derby, a Lewis Creek Association
project partner was stationed at Point Bay Marina in Charlotte to spread awareness to fisherman
about European frogbit. Point Bay was the official weigh station for the derby and Bradley
Carleton of Champlain Valley Guides was able to interview over 35 people about European
frogbit. Carleton distributed 35 informative (“Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers”) cards on the invasive,
and collected valuable information regarding past and present conditions of the Thorp and
Kimball wetland complex. Carleton confirmed that fewer fishermen were using the area in the
past few years because invasive plants like frogbit and milfoil make accessing the area difficult.
Carleton reported that most of the fishermen he spoke to were familiar with European frogbit but
were not aware of its invasive status. Stationing Carleton at Point Bay Marina weigh station
during the LCI fishing derby was an excellent way to raise awareness about European frogbit,
specifically targeting those who use the Thorp/Kimball wetland most often.

The continued outreach regarding European frogbit that has been targeted towards Charlotte
residents over the past two years has primed the community for future action. Volunteer
recruitment should strive to match paid Field Crew Assistants to insure that seasonal removal
efforts continue.

Hand-harvest Techniques

Due to the varied water depths and presence of the navigable channels, harvesters should access
the frogbit population through the use of canoes and kayaks in the deeper areas and knee and
chest waders for the areas closer to shore. A larger or motorized boat would have trouble
maneuvering in the cattails and rushes.

The best access point for the Thorp and Kimball wetland is through private land where there are
locations for portage and equipment storage. Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO),
allowed LCA to store and launch boats and pile removed material on their property’s shore, a
large field that is adjacent to the wetland.

Volunteers and field crew assistants hand-picked individual plants, often using metal gardening
rakes and hand-rakes to grasp large mats of the plant. To store harvested frogbit, kayaks were
fitted with plastic laundry baskets that were secured to the bow with bungee cords, and canoes
carried 5-gallon plastic buckets with holes drilled in the bottom to allow water to escape.
Removed frogbit was brought to shore and piled on tarps well above the high-water line to
prevent it from escaping back into the wetland.

Utilizing experience from the 2009 and 2010 field seasons, it is estimated that when field crew
conduct one “sweep” of an area, approximately 70-85% of all visible frogbit is cleared from the
wetland. Due to the tendency of frogbit to entangle itself in other vegetation matter and lodge
under boats, the limited accessibility of the wetland complex, and the staggered emergence of
frogbit specimens, it is not physically possible to clear 100% of an infested area. During the 2009
and 2010 seasons, one area was “swept” to the specifications above before field crew moved to a
different area of the wetland. From the preliminary year of vegetation transect monitoring data, it
appears that “re-sweeping” areas, going over an area at least twice during the season, has the
biggest impact on plant abundance.


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Due to the extreme levels of infestation in the Thorp and Kimball wetland complex and
limitations on project funding, it is not currently possible to sweep the entire wetland twice in
one season. The entire wetland was swept once in 2010, and sweeping the area a second time in
2011 would constitute as a second wetland sweep.

Despite the fact that all frogbit infested areas are problematic, certain regions of the wetland are
more high risk than others regarding frogbit spread prevention. The mouth of the wetland should
be focused on early in the season, and any frogbit floating in open water should be removed
before the end of the season. These precautionary measures can help reduce the spread of
European frogbit to other wetland ecosystems throughout Lake Champlain. Along with
continuing harvesting efforts in the coming years, monitoring should continue as well.

Removal Techniques for Distinct Management/Treatment Zones

Wetlands are comprised of various micro-habitats, and frogbit removal techniques differ
depending on various treatment areas. Different frogbit treatment zones in the Thorp and
Kimball wetland complex include the mouth of the wetland, open water, cattail marshes &
buttonbush stands, sedges, bulrush stands, and the wetland perimeter. The guide below gives an
outline of suggested removal methods for each of these distinct treatment areas. See Appendix A
to see designated management zones of the Thorp and Kimball wetland complex.

The Mouth of the Wetland: The mouth is the highest-priority area of the wetland. Frogbit
populations near the mouth of the wetland have a higher risk of spreading to other areas
throughout the lake. Because of this, a sweep of the mouth should be the first priority of the
season. It is essential that field crew and volunteers clear the mouth of frogbit several times
throughout the harvesting season, including once near the end of the field season.

The mouth of the wetland is often comprised of a mix of cattails, sedges, and bulrush stands. The
water depth near the mouth is often too deep to utilize chest waders, so all frogbit harvesting
must be done from canoes and kayaks.

It is easier to penetrate deeper into the vegetation surrounding the mouth early in the season. As
the season progress and accessibility into cattail and bulrush stands diminishes, specific attention
should be given to all open water areas surrounding the mouth to prevent the infestation from
spreading.

Open Water: European frogbit is more likely to spread and form additional infestations when it
is found in open water. Without dense vegetation stands in which to tangle its roots, frogbit is
entirely free-floating and can easily move throughout a water body, particularly during extreme
weather events or water level fluctuation.

In the Thorp and Kimball wetland, it is not common to find dense patches of European frogbit in
open water. It is fairly common to encounter isolated plants fairly regularly through still areas of
open water.


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The most effective way to address open water populations of European frogbit is to conduct
several sweeps of the area at various times throughout the season. Because frogbit found in open
water is dispersed and spread out over large areas, it is recommended that one sweep is
conducted early in the season, one in the middle of the season, and one at the very end of the
field season. Harvesting frogbit in open water is best accomplished in canoes and kayaks.

Harvesting in this manner is the most effective way to prevent open water infestations of
European frogbit from spreading to different locations.

Cattail Marshes and Buttonbush Stands: It is often difficult to access populations of European
frogbit that are growing amongst cattails or buttonbushes as the vegetation is dense and difficult
to penetrate. It is recommended that these areas be treated earlier on in the harvesting season in
order to give harvesters the utmost mobility. Using chest waders is a fairly effective means of
penetrating cattail stands and accessing buttonbushes, but it is necessary for the harvester to tow
a boat behind them to store harvested frogbit.

Cattail marshes and buttonbush stands are some of the most difficult areas to harvest frogbit
from. Ideally, harvesters could sweep 10 feet into these vegetation stands, but if this is not
possible the perimeter of these areas should be given specific attention at least once throughout
the harvesting season.

Sedges: When removing European frogbit in the Thorp and Kimball wetland, harvesters will
often work among sedges. The first 10 feet of sedge stands are fairly easily accessed in canoes
and kayaks, and “trails” can often be forged to penetrate deeper areas.

Sedges are often found growing in fairly shallow water, making chest waders useful. Harvesters
in waders can tow a boat behind them fairly easily, and can clear vast areas of European frogbit
fairly quickly. Harvesters should make it a priority to sweep at least 10 feet into the sedges,
further if time and resources allow.

It should be noted that sedges are prime habitat for many species of nesting birds in the spring.
Because of this reason and the fact that sedges are relatively easy to access throughout the
season, they could be cleared later in the season after more high priority areas have been swept.

Bulrush Stands: Bulrush stands primarily grow in deeper waters, making harvesting in chest
waders difficult. Bulrush stands can be accessed more easily in the beginning of the harvesting
season. As the season progresses, it becomes difficult to penetrate bulrush stands in canoes and
kayaks. Kayaks are slightly more effective at maneuvering bulrush stands than canoes.

Bulrushes comprise much of the mouth of the Thorp and Kimball wetland complex, and should
therefore be swept early in the season. As the season progresses and accessibility is diminished,
the open water and first 5-10 feet of bulrush stands should be cleared.

The Wetland Perimeter: Until the infestation has diminished, the wetland perimeter is not the
highest-priority area for frogbit harvesting because the risk of spreading is relatively low. In the


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Thorp and Kimball wetland complex, frogbit populations can be fairly dense on the perimeter of
the wetland, and should be addressed if time and resources allow.

The most effective way to harvest frogbit from the wetland perimeter is by utilizing chest
waders. Harvested frogbit can either be stored in a boat for later removal, or else directly on
shore in a designated compost site.

2011 Frogbit Removal Management Zones of the Thorp Kimball Wetland Complex: Picking
Strategies for Wetland Habitat Zones

The following information is a suggested breakdown of wetland zones for the 2011 season. It is
to be used in conjunction with the “2010 Frogbit Management Zones” map found in Appendix A.

The ideal harvesting season for annual frogbit removal is June and July. All suggested treatments
below should occur within this period. Whenever two sweeps are suggested for a zone, they
should occur at least 2 weeks apart to allow for seasonally occurring plants to emerge. Unless
otherwise specified, all treatment areas are suitable for canoes and kayaks.

Data collection for all treatment zones- Buckets picked/date, hours picked/date, representative
photos before and after treatment/date, visual estimate of percent cover before and after
treatment/date.

Volunteer Caretaker Zones 2011 are 1, 2,10,11. Target less than 15% frogbit cover by end July.

Paid Work Zones 2011 are 3,4,5,6,7,8,9. Target less than 30% frogbit cover by end July.

The crosshatched zones of the 43.3 acre wetland study area (A,B,C) indicate that the vegetation
in those areas is difficult to navigate, both in boats and chest waders. These areas often house
buttonbush or cattail stands and are inaccessible for frogbit harvesting. They are not included in
the work area at this time.

Zone 1 – Lake Edge of Wetland, 6 acres. VOLUNTEER CARETAKER

The lake edge of the wetland should be treated first in the season. Frogbit growing in this open
water has a high risk of spreading throughout the lake and should be removed immediately. This
area should have less than 15% frogbit cover for the duration of the season. To ensure maximum
spread prevention, this area should be treated a second time at the end of the picking season (end
of July). This lake edge portion of the wetland is suitable to volunteer caretaking because it is
easily accessible and % frogbit cover is now low.

Zone 2 - Open Water and Channel, 6.8 acres. VOLUNTEER CARETAKER

This area encompasses a large percent of the channel and open water in the wetland. Frogbit
growing in open water has a high risk of spreading throughout the lake and should be removed


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immediately. This area should have less than 15% frogbit cover for the duration of the season.
To ensure maximum spread prevention, this area should be treated a second time at the end of
the picking season (end of July). This open water and stream channel portion of the wetland is
suitable to volunteer caretaking because it is easily accessible and % frogbit cover is now low.

Zones 5 & 6- Bulrushes, Sedges (that fill in earlier in the season), 3.9 & 1.6 acres

These areas encompass the mouth of the Thorp Brook at the northernmost part of the wetland.
These zones should be treated early in the season due to limited accessibility. Start treatment in
Zone 6, as this is the first area to fill in with vegetation. The majority of these areas will become
inaccessible as the season progresses. If possible, conduct a second sweep of the accessible areas
several weeks after the first treatment by mid July if and when newly emerging frogbit plants are
visible. These areas should have less than 30-50% frogbit cover by the end of July.

Zone 4, 7 & 13- Wetland Perimeter; 2, .9 & 1.7 acres

These areas encompass the accessible perimeter of the wetland. These particular areas have been
identified as being shallow enough to use chest waders, and the vegetation (primarily sedges and
bulrushes) can be penetrated fairly easily. If possible, two sweeps should be conducted in these
areas throughout the picking season, and frogbit cover should not exceed 30%. Zone 7, in the
northernmost section of the wetland, should be treated early in the season as the vegetation in
this area makes accessibility limited in the second half of the season (July). A second treatment
of Zone 7 may not be possible.

Zones 3, 8, 9, 12, & 14 - Sedges and Bulrushes; 2.3, 1.5, 1.3, .7 & 1.1 acres

These areas encompass the outermost vegetation stands in the wetland, primarily sedges and
bulrushes. Although navigation throughout these areas is possible, it can be difficult in canoes
and kayaks. At times, these areas are too deep to use chest waders. If harvesters encounter
difficulty navigating these areas of the wetland due to dense vegetation stands, it is
recommended that they harvest frogbit into at least ~10 feet of the vegetation. Navigation
beyond this point should be discontinued if it becomes too time consuming or difficult. The 10 ft
cleared buffer zone should be treated at two distinct times during the season so that frogbit cover
does not exceed 30% by the end of July.

Zone 10 - Open Water and Water Lilly Area, 3.1 acres. VOLUNTEER CARETAKER

This area encompasses the launch site and the eastern rim of the Kimball Brook mouth. There
are limited vegetation stands in this area and frogbit cover is fairly low. This area should be
treated much like the open water areas of the wetland (See Zone 2). Two sweeps should be
conducted in this area, resulting in less than 15% frogbit cover by mid July. It should be noted
that this region becomes somewhat difficult to paddle through later in the season due to milfoil,
water lilies, and underwater plants. Despite this, the area is now suited to volunteer caretaking
due to the ease of accessibility and the overall lower density of frogbit.

Zone 11 – Mouth of Kimball Brook, 4.9 acres. VOLUNTEER CARETAKER


 15

This floodplain forest of the Kimball Brook confluence is accessible early in the season
(beginning of June) due to higher water level. It becomes difficult to access this area when the
lake level drops later in the season. Frogbit infestation in this region is fairly low, and the entire
area should be kept at less than 15% frogbit cover for the duration of the season. At least two
sweeps/season are necessary in this zone. This area is well suited to harvesting from boats or
chest waders, and is suited for volunteer caretaking.

Disposal

Once fully dried, frogbit can be safely used as compost or mulch materials. Throughout the 2009
field season, a “Best Management Practice” for frogbit disposal was determined. The
management guide incorporates photographs of phases of decomposing material for future
projects to match. The findings of this experiment dictated removal methods for 2010 and will
continue to be used in future years.

Overall, assessing the viability of harvested frogbit plants can be achieved by judging the color
and texture of harvested material. Plant material that was completely “dried” and unviable was
crisp and brown. Plant material that was completely “rotted” and unviable was mushy and
brown. Any plant material that remained green was viable after 24 hours of rehydration. The
2009 pictographic guide for disposal is available on the Lewis Creek Association website.
Frogbit is not to be transported off the site until all plant material in rendered unviable.

Monitoring

Monitoring protocol were set-up during the 2009 field season to record lake height, times of
pulling, date, air temperature, water temperature, crew and volunteer hours, number of buckets
collected, and frog bit size daily. This process of data collection was repeated for the 2010
season. The four 20-meter transects that were set up in 2009 to monitor pulling progress were
reinstalled for the 2010 season. Transects consisted of two 8 foot PVC pipes with orange
flagging tape driven into the wetland bottom. They were marked with GPS coordinates to ensure
that they occupied the same area as they did in 2009. For monitoring, a 20-meter nylon cord with
5-meter interval marks was strung between the PVC pipes. Data collectors placed a 0.5m x 0.5m
PVC pipe square at each 5-meter interval mark, randomly choosing one side of the line or the
other to place the plot. Within each plot, the plant species present and its corresponding
abundance and percent cover were recorded. To decrease sampling bias, the same field crew
assistants surveyed throughout the season. Transect areas were not treated during the 2010
season. After collecting data from the second season, it is questionable how effective transects
are as monitoring devices to gather more data on long-term impacts of frogbit harvest.

Timing and Field Season Length

European frogbit removal begins in early June when the frogbit plants are leafing-out and
amassing on the water surface and water and air temperatures are warm. Data from year one
informed the decision to start one week later for the 2010 season (as opposed to June 1st in 2009)


 16

because it is difficult to pick frogbit when plants are very small. Using this information, the 2010
season ran for nine weeks, from June 7th to August 6th.

In 2009, it was determined that turion formation did not begin until July 20th, and therefore the
frogbit removal season could effectively extend for one or two more weeks into the month of
August. Upon attempting this in 2010, it became very clear that there are more variables to
consider when harvesting frogbit later in the season. Lake level is an extremely important factor,
and field crew found it difficult to get in and out of the launch site as lake level diminished to
95’. If lake level had decreased any more, it would not have been possible to continue using the
project launch site to access the wetland.

Due to an “early spring,” turion formation was noted on July 13th in 2010, a week earlier than in
2009. Early turion formation combined with an extended season increased the risk that mature
plants would drop their turions during the field season. The utmost care should be taken to not
extend frogbit harvesting too late into the summer season.

Depending on funding levels and volunteer availability, future field seasons should consider
starting earlier (June 1st) and continue as needed for as many as nine weeks.

4. REFERENCES

Bender, J & Jay Rendall. 2007. Elementary Stewardship Abstract for purple loosestrife. The
Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA 22209.

Catling, P.M. and W.G. Dore. 1982. Status and identification of Hydrocharis morsus-ranae and
Limnobium spongia (Hydrocharitaceae) in northeastern North America. Rhodora 94: 523-545.

Catling, P.M., K.W. Spicer, and L.P. Lefkovitch. 1988. Effects of the introduced floating
vascular aquatic, Hydrocharis morsus-ranae (Hydrocharitaceae), on some North American
aquatic macrophytes. Naturaliste canadien 115: 131-137.

Davis, Mark A., J. Philip Grime and Ken Thompson. 2000. Fluctuating resources in plant
communities: a general theory of invasibility. Journal of Ecology 88: 528-534.

Invasive Plant Atlas of New England. 2004. Catalog of Species. (http://www.ipane.org).


University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06029.

Jensen, Doug. 2006. Aquatic Nuisance Species: Flowering Rush (Butomus umbellatus)..
(http://www.seagrant.umn.edu/ais/floweringrush). Minnesota Sea Grant and University of
Minnesota, Duluth MN 55805 USA.

Kuebbing, Sara. 2007. Thorp Brook Weed Management Plan. Unpublished.


 17

Kuebbing, Sara and Sue Smith. 2009. Lewis Creek Association’s European Frogbit Final Report.
Unpublished.

Lapin, Marc. 1991. Biological Areas of Chittenden County.

Maerz, J.C., C.J. Brown, C.T. Chapin and B. Blossey. 2005. Can Secondary compounds of an
invasive plant affect larval amphibians? Functional Ecology 19: 970-975.

Thompson, Elizabeth and Lee Perlow. 2005. Thorp Brook and Lower Kimball Brook Wetlands
Significant Natural Communities, Wildlife Values, and Wetland Functions and Values
Assessment. Town of Charlotte Conservation Commission.
(http://www.charlottevt.org/vertical/Sites/{5618C1B5-BAB5-4588-B4CF-
330F32AA3E59}/uploads/{EDE6FE76-8726-45FB-97E0-FD4CB9F62C40}.PDF)

Thompson, Elizabeth and Eric Sorenson. 2000. Wetland, Wildland, Woodland: A Guide to the
Natural Communities of Vermont. University Press of New England, Hanover, NH 03775.

Tu, Mandy. 2003. Elementary Stewardship Abstract for Yellow flag iris, water flag. The Nature
Conservancy Wildland Invasive Species Team, Department of Vegetable Crops & Weed
Sciences, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.

Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. 2004. Eurasian watermilfoil in Vermont.


(http://www.vtwaterquality.org/lakes/htm/ans/lp_ewm.htm).

Vermont Wetlands Rule. 2002. Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Rules


Summary Page (http://www.nrb.state.vt.us/wrp/publications/wetrule2002.pdf).

Washington State Department of Ecology. 2006. Non-Native Freshwater Plants database.


(http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/plants/weeds/index.html0. Olympia, WA 98504.

Zedler, Joy B. & Suzanne Kercher. 2004. Causes and Consequences of Invasive Plants in
Wetlands: Opportunities, Opportunists, and Outcomes. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 23:
431-452.


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