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‘Paddle With A Purpose’ seeks to curtail invasive plants in Middletown

MIDDLETOWN – On two Saturdays this summer, volunteers will take to the water in Middletown to repel invaders. Specifically, water chestnuts.

Water chestnut is considered an invasive species in the Connecticut River watershed because it takes over large sections of water, crowding out other plants and animals. Then the decomposing plants decrease oxygen which severely damages fish and other wildlife’s ability to survive. The Connecticut River Conservancy says water chestnut infestations also impede fishing, hunting, swimming and boating as plants can cover entire bodies of water with leaves on the top and roots up to sixteen feet deep in the water.

So for the past several years Middletown’s Jonah Center for Earth & Art has organized volunteers for “Paddle With A Purpose”.   Volunteers with kayaks and canoes launch into the Connecticut River and paddle upstream to the “floating meadows” at the convergence of the Coginchaug and Mattabesset Rivers. They pull up the plants in early summer, before the water chestnuts drop their seeds, to keep the invasive species in check.  They typically fill dozens of canoes on each paddle.

The first paddle this year is Saturday June 15th. Volunteers can arrive at 10am at the boat launch at 181 Johnson Street, bring a kayak or canoe if you have one. Gloves and bags will be provided, but you may wish to bring your own dishwashing gloves that fit you. The event lasts about two hours.

The second paddle will be July 13th; that one starts at 9 a.m.

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