Fight against water chestnut needs more volunteers

An invasive species is choking out parts of the Ottawa River and more volunteers are needed to fight it, according to Ontario Parks.

Invasive species choking out parts of Ottawa River

Ontario Parks says they need more volunteers to stop this invasive species. 2:27

Ontario Parks is looking for more volunteers as it tries to counter the environmental and economic effects an invasive water plant is taking on the Ottawa River.

Saturday was "Water Chestnut Pull Day" at Voyageur Provincial Park, about an hour east of Ottawa near the Quebec border.

The European Water Chestnut's sharp seeds can be dangerous. (CBC)

Volunteers paddled out in boats to pull up as much of the long, thick plant as they could, hoping to free up oxygen and sunlight for fish and native plants that are being cut off.

Jennifer Jung of Ontario Parks said the European Water Chestnut is affecting humans as well.

"The seeds are very sharp, they wash up onto beaches so people can hurt themselves," she said.

"It's very hard for people to canoe or boat or go fishing in the area, so there's an economic impact too."

Can't keep plant from taking over some areas

Volunteers such as Ralph Tracy said they don’t want to see this happen.

"(My wife) fell in love with this place, so we camp here every season," he said.

"This is just an extra way of helping pay back and making it better for everybody else, the people who fish and stuff."

Jennifer Jung of Ontario Parks said they're seeing more volunteers come help. (CBC)

Jung said they’ve had 35 volunteers come out over the last two months, which is "much higher" than what they’ve had in the past.

However, the plant grows so quickly that Ontario Parks said they have no choice but to let it take over some parts of the Ottawa River.

They said they’ll need more volunteers in the future to make more than "a dent" in the problem.

The European Water Chestnut was brought to North America sometime before 1879 by a gardener in Massachussets, according to the provincial government.

They said the infestation in the Ottawa River is the only known population in the province.