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Chesapeake Bay News


Battle for the Bird River

I’m declaring war. No, I’m not assuming some pseudo-political position giving me the power to aggregate our country’s resources in a fight for power, peace or anything else dominating the headlines these days. I, Liana Vitali, am declaring war and all the power I need is the strength in my arms and a Sea Doo GTI with a 130 hp engine and a sleek, ergonomic design. Combine this with my steadfast desire to restore the Chesapeake Bay to its historic and unimaginable beauty and you’re looking at a stealthy invasive species destroyer, equipped to rid the Chesapeake Bay of its exotic aquatic vegetation invaders and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! (OK, that part might be an exaggeration.)

I bet you’re wondering who I used my incredible skills and power to wage war upon . . . the dreaded Trapa natans. Here is its criminal rap sheet:

Street name: Water Chestnut
Continents of Origin: Europe, Asia and Africa
Last Known Chesapeake Bay Residence: Bird and Sassafras rivers
Criminal Record: Convicted on multiple accounts of:
  • Aggravated assault on native underwater Bay sea grasses
  • Possession of a weapon in the form of ½ inch spikes sharp enough to cut through shoe leather
  • Aiding and abetting by creating an environment conducive to the growth and cultivation of blood-sucking mosquitoes

Recently, I joined forces with Maryland Department of Natural Resources biologists to seek and destroy water chestnut in the Bird River, north of the city of Baltimore. We deployed one Carolina skiff and two Sea Doos to scour the shores of the entire main river and creeks. This time last year, we worked collectively to remove what seemed like half a ton of water chestnut from the river. This year, we returned to find that the skills, strategy and no doubt awesome intimidation we imposed on the invader must have struck fear into its very roots. Though their guerilla tactics of hiding amongst beloved native water lilies nearly out of sight might have worked, they clearly misjudged our abilities and dedication to the Bay. One by one, we yanked out less than a quarter of the water chestnut we removed last year. OohRah!

So does this mean that I can now hang a large and lovely banner across the front of the Chesapeake Bay Program building proudly stating “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!”? No. But can I proudly say we’ve set an example of how combining manpower and resources with a loyal devotion for the Chesapeake Bay can result in tangible and positive changes to our creeks and rivers? Absolutely.


About Liana Vitali - Liana Vitali was a Living Resources Subcommittee staffer with the Chesapeake Research Consortium at the Chesapeake Bay Program.

Keywords: invasive species


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