A hydro-raking machine treats Westwood’s Perry Crouse Pond, which had become overgrown with invasive species.
By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Correspondent
Anyone who drives through Westwood can see from the thriving greenery and perfectly manicured medians that the community places a special emphasis on preserving and maintain the town’s natural wonders.
Although it prides itself on its ability to make Westwood a beautiful place to live, the community is not immune to invasive species. In recent years, invasive species, particularly purple loosestrife and cattails, have taken over some areas in Westwood, like Perry Crouse Pond.
To help eradicate much of the overgrowth and allow native plants more room to thrive, Westwood’s Conservation Commission has been implementing a plan to remove the purple loosestrife and cattails through a procedure called hydro-raking.
“It’s this machine [the hydro-raking team] puts in the water and it rakes out all of the unwanted growth in the pond,” explained Westwood Conservation Agent Karon Skinner Catrone. “So they rake it out, scoop it up, and bring it to the shoreline, and then the [Department of Public Works] took it and brought it to another location to process it.”
Those in Westwood who pass by Perry Crouse Pond often can attest to the severity of the overgrowth of cattails and purple loosestrife, which gave the pond a marshy appearance.
“What it does is that when you have this nice pond with open water, the growth just kind of fills in that open water, so it’s more of a swamp,” Catrone explained.
After the team spent a week hydro-raking at Perry Crouse Pond, the town could see immediate results and see the water again.
The hydro-raking endeavor has been a long time coming, according to Catrone, who mentioned that both funding and weather has prevented the Westwood Conservation Commission from bringing the hydro-raking company to the pond sooner.
Unfortunately, though, hydro-raking is not a permanent solution - the town will eventually have to bring the team back to treat Perry Crouse Pond.
In the meantime, the Westwood Conservation Commission would like to do similar work on other ponds that have been taken over by invasive species. They are also working on updating the open space and recreation plan, which will better Westwood’s eligibility for grants.
Members of the Westwood community are encouraged to familiarize themselves with invasive species that could be growing in their own yards.