Deep through the trees of Patapsco Valley State Park is the Liberty Reservoir. This enormous watershed divides both Baltimore and Carroll Counties and also features a beautiful dam.

Get to Know the Liberty Reservoir

The Liberty Reservoir is fed by the Patapsco River and features 9,200 acres of space. Back in the early 50’s, the dam featured in the video above was built. The reservoir also flows into the Ashburton Water Filtration Plant for treatment for Baltimore City.

Along with being a source of drinking water, the area is also used for hiking, boating, bird watching, archery hunting during specific seasons, and fishing. Within the area, you might find white-tailed deer, wild turkey, squirrels, rabbits, and various songbirds. However, there are also a handful of invasive species that have wormed their way into the watershed that you should watch out for.

Invasive Species in Maryland

Non-native, exotic species can pose a serious threat to the local ecosystem. According to the Maryland Sea Grant, there are 6 species of note that cause concern for the Chesapeake Bay and other bodies of water in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The six species that cause issues for our region include mute swans, zebra mussels, nutria, common reed, water chestnuts, and purple loosestrife. Part of what makes a species dangerously invasive is the fact that they have no natural predators in their non-native environment. Their lack of predators usually leads to over population, which can cause serious problems for the various native creatures that live within the ecosystem who will have a harder time fighting for food and other resources.

Behold, the Zebra Mussel. These little fellas might not seem like much, but they’re causing problems for bodies of water all over the US. They’re originally from Eastern Europe and were brought over from a cargo ship’s contaminated ballast water.

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Zebra Mussels found in Bull Shoals Tailwater MOUNTAIN HOME – Biologists with the AGFCs Fisheries Division confirmed the presence of zebra mussels in the portion of the White River just downstream of Bull Shoals Dam last week. Zebra mussels are an invasive species that can cause an extreme nuisance to fisheries managers by displacing native mussel populations and clogging infrastructure such as pipes and valves in dams, boats and water-control structures. Zebra mussels have been present in Bull Shoals Lake for more than a decade and saw a large population increase in 2014 and 2015. However, this is the first sighting of the species beyond that lake. β€œThe species has been present in the lake since at least 2008, so their spread to the river is not a complete surprise,” said AGFC Trout Management Supervisor Christy Graham. β€œThe number of zebra mussels appears highest directly below the dam, but we have already found them up to 8 miles below the dam.” Zebra mussels can be transported from one body of water to another through boats, trailers and other fishing equipment, such as waders and nets. The larval form of the mussel, called veligers, and can stay alive for days in moist, dark live-wells and bilge areas and are virtually impossible to see without a microscope. The following precautions can help prevent the spread of both adult and larval zebra mussels (as well as other invasive species): – Clean boats, trailers and other equipment thoroughly between fishing trips with hot soapy water; a high pressure washer; or a light bleach solution (1 cup bleach to 10 gallons water); – Let boats, trailers and other equipment fully dry for 4 to 6 hours between trips, preferably in the sun; – Remove all vegetation attached to your boat or trailer; – Never move water, fish or fish parts from one body of water to another, and – Tell other anglers and boaters about prevention and spread of invasive species. – Be sure to have cleaned, drasined, and dried your equipment before traveling to and from other locations. #BullShoals #zebramussels #invasivespecies #WhiteRiver #trout #prevention #habitat #conservation #arkansas #argameandfish #agfc #arkansaswildlife

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What Does This Have to Do With Liberty Reservoir?

Everything! Every time you put your boat into the water, you are risking the spread of contamination. Creatures like zebra mussels can latch onto your boat. Their larva can be carried around in small amounts of water that may remain in your boat.

Because of this, anyone that launches a boat in Liberty, Loch Raven, and Prettyboy Reservoirs must have a signed affidavit that states that their boat will remain within those reservoirs. A seasonal permit is also required to launch a boat within the reservoir from the City of Baltimore Reservoir Natural Resources Office.

Live bait used for fishing is allowed, but it must come from a Maryland certified zebra mussel-free bait store.

Now, you may think this is a little extreme and maybe even a bit of a drag. You just want to fish on your boat! That’s understandable, but protecting our wildlife is extremely important, and it’s everyone’s job to help.

Just look how beautiful the reservoir is. Let’s keep it that way.

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