Dragon Run Special Area Management Plan

Invasive Species Strategy Meeting

Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Gloucester Point, Virginia

June 19, 2003




Dr. Willy Reay – Chesapeake Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve – Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Dr. Greg Garman – Center for Environmental Studies, Virginia Commonwealth University

Allen Belden – Division of Natural Heritage, Department of Conservation and Recreation

Julie Bixby – Virginia Coastal Program, Department of Environmental Quality

Bob Greenlee – Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Ellen Cosby – Fisheries Management Division, Marine Resources Commission

Andy Lacatell – Chesapeake Rivers Program, The Nature Conservancy

Will Smith – Ecological Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

David Fuss – Director of Dragon Run Special Area Management Plan, Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission


Welcome and Introduction


David Fuss welcomed everyone and began introductions. David acknowledged appreciation to Dr. Reay for hosting the meeting.


David explained the Planning District Commission, the Dragon Run Steering Committee, and the Special Area Management Plan. He indicated that a meeting of natural resource agencies and organizations had been held in July 2002 where each organization described the research that had been completed, was being undertaken, or was planned in the future. Subsequently, Dr. Reay hosted a Natural Resources Symposium for the Dragon Run/Piankatank River that featured presentations by those performing research in the system. During the Symposium, informal discussions generated considerable interest in the extent, impact, and control of invasive species. David called this meeting to respond to this interest.


The Dragon Run has a number of assets, including:

o        Unique natural system – ex) diverse native fish assemblage

o        Completed and planned natural resource inventory work

o        Committed citizens

o        Special Area Management Plan provides overarching support/vision

o        Few access points


Concerns about Invasive Species


David opened the floor to discussion about any invasive plants or animals that were a concern to those at the meeting. The following priority lists were generated as a result of discussions:




Blue catfish- only 1individual collected (revised 6/26 – several individuals collected)

Flathead catfish – not confirmed in Dragon

Zebra mussel – not known in Dragon

Grass carp – not known in Dragon; stocked for weed control in private ponds

Rapa whelk – lower Piankatank




·         Feasible

o       Phragmites australis or common reed – limited stands in lower Dragon

o       Ligustrum spp or privets

o       Hydrilla – not known in Dragon


·         Infeasible – except in micro-area (near sensitive species)

o       Murdanna keisak or marsh dewflower

·         No effective control mechanism

·         Threatens sensitive species (e.g. sensitive join-vetch)

o       Microstegium vimineum or Japanese stiltgrass – not tolerant of inundation


Discussions of individual species


·        Phragmites

o        Non-native vs. Native

o        Invasive currently in Piankatank/Dragon Run

o        #1 plant priority for control

o        Herbicide and burning control methods

o        Establishes following disturbance

o        Likely spread with drought last summer


·        Hydrilla

o        Not currently known in Dragon Run

o        First arrived on Potomac; now in Chickahominy, Pamunkey Rivers

o        Provides good fish habitat, but can clog waterways

o        Spread by trailered boats; “bait bucket” introductions

o        Expensive to control


·        Blue catfish

o        Currently in Piankatank/Dragon Run

o        Stocked by DGIF in major rivers, not in small rivers

o        Larger rivers are better habitat, but can do a lot of damage to fish and mussel populations in smaller systems

o        DGIF does not consider it an invasive species

o        Education through law enforcement officers, signage

o        Little can be done once population is established




The group felt that monitoring and prevention were the best strategies to combat invasive species. Once populations are established, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to remove the invasive species.


Dr. Garman proposed a framework for an invasive species program in the Dragon Run as follows:


  1. Encourage and create state-level policies
  2. Education program to reduce the potential for species introduction

·         Use access points and bait shops

·         Train volunteers – motivated citizens

·         Relate negative impacts of introduction

·         Possible emphasis on “Heritage Angling Experience”

  1. Monitoring and control program

·         Use existing programs

·         Find funding sources for long-term monitoring

·         Use citizens such as fisheries operations (e.g. peeler pounds)


Next Steps


Need to develop a plan with:


Garman/Greenlee – plan for fish monitoring/eradication


Garman – work on lining up spectral imagery for lower Dragon to locate Phragmites;

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flights once/yr; cooperative agreement 0.25m resolution

The Nature Conservancy – Invasives Initiative


Cosby – law enforcement patrol; distribute information about invasives


Reay/CBNERR – identify funding sources and cost estimates; NOAA funding for education and restoration science


General - seek representation on Advisory Committee to Virginia Invasive Species Council


Fuss – use watershed management plan as vehicle for engaging DGIF and VMRC as partner for discouraging introduction of invasive species


“Deck of Cards” Education Program – outreach tool to educate citizens about “bad actors”; can be produced in-house with help from CBNERR, VCU, USFWS (signs?)