DESCRIPTION: The Aquatic Plant Control program authorizes the Corps of Engineers to cooperate with other federal and non-federal agencies in comprehensive programs for the control of invasive aquatic plants, which have adverse effects on navigation and the ecosystem. For example, water chestnut (Trapa natans L.) forms dense mats that can invade a water body and make boating and recreational activities almost impossible. The dense mats shade out native aquatic vegetation, reducing biodiversity. Furthermore, decomposition of the vegetation below the dense mat decreases oxygen levels and can cause fish kills. The Aquatic Plant Control (APC) program for the State of Vermont is in the Lake Champlain Basin and seeks to control the invasion of harmful aquatic species, like water chestnut, in the basin. Lake Champlain is located between New York on the west and Vermont on the east and contains approximately 1,615 acres of aquatic plants. In addition to water chestnut, Eurasian water-milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatumL.) also infests the Lake Champlain Basin. Similarly to water chestnut, Eurasian water-milfoil branches profusely and forms a dense canopy that shades out other vegetation, which alters the aquatic vegetation species composition and can result in a near monoculture of milfoil, which is not a valuable food source for waterfowl. As the milfoil takes over, aquatic predators lose their foraging space and ability to control prey species due to the dense vegetation, which results in an imbalanced fish community. Dense beds of Eurasian water-milfoil impede boating, fishing, and swimming to a point where they become nearly impossible.
Since 1958, the Department of Army and the State of Vermont have cooperated to control invasive aquatic species in the Lake Champlain Basin. In 1983 the APC program was initiated to continue and expand joint efforts to maintain access in high public use and navigational areas by targeting water chestnut and Eurasian water-milfoil. The current Project Partnership Agreement for this program is between the New York District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. Eighty-one sites in Lake Champlain and its tributaries are managed for water chestnut. Starting in 2018, the methods of operations were targeted to maximize the efficiency of hand pulling and mechanical operations by incorporating a handpull component within the mechanical harvesting operations in the South Lake Region.
AUTHORIZATION: Recognizing the severe impact that aquatic invasive species can have on our national economy, public health, wildlife, and agriculture, etc., Congress enacted The River and Harbor Act of July 3, 1958, Public Law 85-500, Section 104. This expanded existing programs of aquatic plant control in the navigable waters, tributary streams, connecting channels, and other allied waters in the combined interest of navigation, flood control, drainage, agriculture, fish and wildlife conservation, public health and related purposes. A key aspect of the expanded program includes continuous research into efficient methods for aquatic plant control. Results of the Expanded Project were forwarded by the Chief of Engineers to the Secretary of the Army and subsequently to Congress. The report recommended authorization of a continuing nationwide program for the control of obnoxious aquatic plants, wherever such plants constitute a serious threat to navigation, agriculture, public health, the efficient operation of drainage and flood control works, or use of the nation's waterways. That recommendation resulted in the creation of the Vermont APC Program. Thus, for over 40 years, New York District has partnered with the State of Vermont on a 50/50 cost-shared program to remove invasive species within Lake Champlain and its tributaries.
STATUS: A PPA for $500,000 was executed in Sep 2021; the federal funds are being utilized by the New York District USACE to continue the APC program with the State of Vermont in the Lake Champlain Basin. APC Project Partnership Agreements are executed annually with the receipt of funds.
Jennifer L. Curran
Programs and Project Management Division
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District
26 Federal Plaza
New York, NY, 10278
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS: Senator Peter Welch, VT; Senator Bernard Sanders, VT