HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut River Conservancy is seeking boater feedback on an invasive plant that is preventing access to the river.

The conservancy says over the last few years, thick mats of the invasive aquatic plant hydrilla have overwhelmed rivers, coves, inlets, and riverbanks along the Connecticut River. The plant can grow so densely that it limits access for boaters, anglers, and receptionists on the river.

Marinas and municipalities have reported to the conservancy that they can no longer access boat slips and docks due to the severity of the hydrilla infestations, which is limiting business opportunities.

“Hydrilla can spread through a process known as fragmentation, in which the plants, due to some sort of disruption, break apart and regrow elsewhere,” said Kelsey Wentling, River Steward at the Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC). “Fragmentation often happens when boats go through a patch of hydrilla. For this reason, it is critical that those using paddle boats, power boats, jet skis, and fishing equipment in the Connecticut River be aware of invasive hydrilla and then take steps to reduce its spread.”

In addition to business impacts, hydrilla outcompetes native plants and replaces habitat for sensitive plants and animals, including migratory fish. According to the conservatory, researchers have recently discovered that hydrilla infestations can host a type of bacteria that when exposed to bromide, can produce a neurotoxin that is deadly to animals.

The conservancy says these factors make the plant a threat to the economic and environmental integrity of the Connecticut River valley.

CRC is seeking survey responses from boaters in the region to understand how the boating community can best contribute to preventing the spread of invasive hydrilla. You can take the survey here.