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07.10.08 Didymo Found in the Mad River
By: friendv3 (friendv3) 2008.08.04

More about Didymo in the Mad River

The presence of the invasive alga didymo (a.k.a. rock snot) has been confirmed by ANR just downstream of Warren Village (for more info about didymo in general visit the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) website) This of course has many implications for the river--we will keep you posted as we learn more. Caitrin Noel, Watershed Coordinator for Friends of the Mad River, has observed Didymo in several locations including near the Park and Ride in Warren Village, at Riverside park, and at Lareau swimhole.  It is important to keep in mind that Didymo has specific habitat requirements, and will not be found in all locations in the river.  Didymo can grow in sunny areas of fast moving, clean water.  It does not grow in sandy, slow moving or excessively shady areas.

The Friends of the Mad River Board and others from the community and the Agency of Natural Resources are planning an outreach campaign to educate folks about how to prevent the spread of this invasive algae upstream and into the tributaries.

Here are some things to keep in mind about Didymo (from the VT ANR website):

  • Didymo can have negative ecological, economic and aesthetic impacts in infested areas, but how it will affect Vermont waters is unknown.
  • There are many examples of rivers where Didymo does not form nuisance blooms or mats.  Surveys can locate viable cells but, for some reason, they do not undergo rapid growth and excess production of stalk material.  Scientists around the world are still attempting to determine what factors limit or support this bloom activity.
  • Scientific studies conducted around the globe have yet to show conclusively that Didymo has significant impacts to trout fisheries.  However, it remains a priority of the Agency of Natural Resources to limit the algaís spread throughout the region, as a precaution.
  • Spread prevention is the only effective management tool.  There are no known methods of eradicating Didymo once established.
  • Vermont ANR is cooperating with a number of federal, state and other entities to monitor and reduce the spread of Didymo in the Northeast.
  • You can do your part to minimize the spread of Didymo by following best practices and disinfecting your gear when using Vermont waters (for specific suggestions see below).
  • Disinfection and best practices not only help to reduce the spread of Didymo, but other invasive species and pathogens such as VHS (viral hemorrhagic septicemia) or whirling disease as well.  Itís simply good stewardship
  • Didymo is not considered a significant human health concern (from the Taieri Trust website)
While didymo cannot be removed from the river, we can work to stop the spread of this pest into the tributaries if it is not already there. 

BEST PRACTICES for minimizing the spread of Didymo, other aquatic invasive species, and fish and wildlife pathogens while using Vermontís waters:

  • All Users - Disinfect your gear and boat before traveling between different bodies of water or watersheds (see below).
  • All Users - If you move around to fish, boat, play or work, construct and use a simple, portable disinfection kit.
  • All Users - When possible, fish, boat, play or work in a single waterbody in a single day, rather than traveling between multiple watersheds without appropriate precautions.
  • All Users - Visually inspect your boat, gear and equipment before entering and leaving the water.  Remove all plants, plant fragments, animals, mud or other debris and discard in the trash. 
  • Anglers - When practical, fish in a downstream direction.  This doesnít mean you canít wade upstream a bit to fish that nice run upstream Ė think on a watershed scale.  By fishing at the mouth of a large river in the morning, then going to the headwaters in the afternoon without disinfecting your gear, youíve potentially spread Didymo upstream to the whole stream, which may not have been previously infected.  Most algae and aquatic invasives/pathogens canít swim upstream.
  • Anglers - Consider the use of easily disinfected wading gear.  For example, rubber-soled wading boots with cleats are easier to disinfect quickly than felt-soled boots.
  • Anglers, Guides, Outfitters - Designate waders/boots/canoes/tubes for different watersheds or have multiple sets available for same-day travel, when needed.
  • Canoeists, Kayakers, Boaters, Tubers - Remove drain plug and drain any water prior to leaving boat loading/unloading area.  Donít move water between waterbodies.
There will be more information coming out about this in the Valley Reporter and through other channels.  Please share this info with your friends and neighbors.  While this is an unfortunate situation, it is also an opportunity to ramp up our efforts to protect the Mad River in ALL ways.

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