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Huntington puts carp in pond to eat plants

Ed Carr, left, director of Maritime Services for

Ed Carr, left, director of Maritime Services for the Town of Huntington, hands a bag full of Grass Carp to Bob Litzke, the Environmental Programs Coordinator for the Town of Huntington, at Heckscher Park pond in Huntington. (May 20, 2013) Credit: Ed Betz

Heckscher Park pond in Huntington has some new residents -- 36 of them to be exact.

Grass carp were introduced into the pond Monday in an effort to control the growth of hornwort, a thick, underwater sea plant the carp eat.

About three years ago, Heckscher Model Yacht Club members, whose boats are hampered by the plant while sailing on the pond, asked the town to consider a natural solution to the problem: stocking the pond with grass carp, a fish with a voracious appetite for hornwort.

After much consideration, the town agreed to the idea last year.

"We're happy to move forward on this," Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said. "Most of the innovative things that happen in government is a result of a need of an individual or a group of people."

The town got permits from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to introduce the fish. The DEC required the nonnative fish to be sterile and that a fence be installed so they don't spread to other areas.

As Ron Lange, club vice commodore, watched the fish being placed in the pond, he said, "We're hoping that the fish are aggressive enough and can really clean things up."

He said he and other members will chart the carps' progress each week.

Town officials said state regulations helped determine the amount of fish to be placed. They calculated 10 fish per acre for the 3.6-acre pond.

Babylon officials have said they have successfully used grass carp in their pond at Town Hall and at the town annex in North Babylon since September 2009.

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