The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) reported the removal of invasive water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) from the King Park Pond in Pittsfield, Illinois.
IDNR and the City of Pittsfield personnel removed approximately 3,000 pounds of water lettuce in an effort to protect the fish population in the pond and clear the way for stocking the pond for the start of Fall Trout Fishing Season, which begins on October 20.
IDNR stated that water lettuce is a non-native plant that was probably introduced into the pond as part of an illegal stocking. The plant can be possessed legally in Illinois for aquariums and those in the aquarium industry only. It is illegal to place water lettuce into public waters within Illinois.
IDNR was alerted to the presence of water lettuce in King Park Pond in early August.
“In less than a month, this aggressive aquatic plant went from covering less than one percent of the pond to nearly 75 percent coverage on September 5 when it was removed,” said IDNR Fisheries Biologist Blake Ruebush. “About 3,000 pounds of water lettuce plants were hauled away and disposed of. Subsequent efforts from IDNR will include herbicide treatments to any remaining plants in the pond.”
Water lettuce plants were removed for multiple reasons:
- Water lettuce is not native to Illinois and is considered invasive in some parts of the U.S.
- This plant was likely illegally stocked into the pond without permission from IDNR.
- The water lettuce had the potential to completely overtake the pond and possibly cause a fish kill.
- The density of the plants interfered with fishing activities.
- King Park Pond is stocked for Fall Trout Fishing Season in October for those with trout stamps, and the presence of water lettuce would prevent shore access to the water.
“This case supports our ‘Be a Hero – Release Zero’ campaign to fight the spread of aquatic invaders to our waters,” Ruebush said. “Anglers, landowners, aquarium owners and all of us should always dispose of unwanted aquatic plants, fish, bait, or other aquatic life in the trash to avoid situations like this from occurring. Do not allow water gardens or plants to be flooded, or for plants to escape into public waters.
To learn more about what to do with unwanted aquatic life click here.