February 25, 2024

Pond Treated with Chemicals to Rid Native Species

Coy Pond. Photo by Megan Hammes '19

By: Taylor Bradford ‘19


Coy Pond has been the center point for many community members admiration as it houses a wide variety of wildlife and vegetation. Last summer, the College treated the Pond with chemicals to get rid of unwanted vegetation.

On Aug. 8, 2016, the Town of Wenham Conservation Commission unanimously approved a  Notice of Intent and granted the revised Order of Conditions allowing Gordon College to remove native vegetation from Coy Pond in a two-part project.

The College’s goal with the removal of the vegetation was “to restore areas of open water to improve habitat value and recreational accessibility,” said Michael Ahearn, Vice President for Finance and Administration of the College.

Coy Pond is the large pond that is located out behind Lane Student Center. The deepest part of the Pond can be found in the middle, which is about 8 feet deep. The surrounding area, as Dorothy Boorse, Professor of Biology at the College, explained, is more of a marsh ranging from 2 to 3 feet deep. The bottom of the Pond is a collection of “unconsolidated muck that has a lot of dead vegetation and sediments,” she said.

The inhabitants of Coy include rooted macrophytes, aquatic vegetation, algae, fish, herring, osprey and otters. A large amount of the pond is populated by these inhabitants; however, that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Boorse said, “The vegetation is really high because of the amount of phosphorous of nutrient run off. One way to look at it is that the plants are doing great. They are doing a great job of removing the phosphorous from the water, which means that the water is cleaner when it comes downstream. But it also means that the pond is full of weeds and harder to boat in.”

The project was brought to the Conservation Committee on July 25, 2016 by Ahearn and Curtis Young, senior consultant at Wetlands Preservation Inc, who consulted the College on this project. The two-part project aimed to take “control of nuisance vegetation at Coy Pond, affecting properties at Gordon College Campus at 255 Grapevine Road,” as stated in the meetings minutes.

The first of the two phases was completed in Aug. 2016, when the pond was treated with chemicals Aquapro and Diquat Dibromide to alleviate the pond of native species, which included coontail and floating water lilies.

Ahearn wrote in an email responding to questions from the Tartan  that the chemicals were used “to provide a quick reduction in floating-leaf and submersed plant densities within designated areas of the pond.”  

“The chemicals completely biodegrade and dissipate within a few days, in addition the total volume was modest,” Ahearn said.

The College had scheduled to finish the second phase of the project March 2017, focusing on the long-term control of the unwanted vegetation by raking the dead vegetation from the pond. However, Ahearn explained that this phase has been postponed indefinitely with hopes that the AquaPro and Diquat Dibromide will suffice.

A similar project was done at Patton Park’s Weaver Pond of Hamilton back in 2009. In past years, Weaver Pond was dredged, a process in which machinery equipped with scoops and suction pipes widen a body of water by removing unwanted vegetation.

The town of Hamilton, however, found that the unwanted vegetation returned easily and they were left having to put more money into removing the vegetation once again.

According to an article from WickedLocal, Conservation Commission Coordinator Jim Hankin said regarding Weaver Pond, “We just need to find out some way of eradicating them without applying a lot of chemicals and without incurring a great deal of costs, and that’s not easy.”.

Eventually, the Weaver Pond project was revisited and completed by draining the pond and removing all of the vegetation.

Similar concerns apply for Coy Pond today as the College takes the precautionary step of holding off on the second phase.  

Ahearn said, “There is expense involved so we are trying to figure out what the longer-term best process is so as to not be too invasive but also trying to preserve the water as a body of water.”

For more information about the Coy Pond project, visit: http://www.wenhamma.gov/boards_and_committees/docs/ConCom%20A%207.25.16.pdf.


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