Monday, December 29, 2008

Week of December 29, 2008

Happy New Year!

Blog updated 12/31

Rhode Island town to control sand sedge

The Associated Press, Published: December 29, 2008

MIDDLETOWN, R.I.—Middletown is planning to eradicate a species of invasive beach grass from Sachuest Beach that could cause erosion and weaken dunes.

Town Administrator Shawn Brown tells The Newport Daily News that the areas affected by sand sedge will be sprayed with a herbicide in the spring, well before the start of beach season.

Brown says the sand sedge [likely to be Carex kobomugi] has choked out the native species in some areas.

The sand sedge was discovered earlier this year by a researcher working on an unrelated project. Town officials and experts have been investigating various potential solutions since then.

Officials are not sure how the Asian species arrived in town.

The town received approval for the removal plan from the Coastal Resources Management Council. Link


Zebra mussels found in lower Susquehanna

By Karl Blankenship, Chesapeake Bay Journal

Zebra mussels, the infamous invader from the Caspian Sea that has infested the Great Lakes and other water bodies, have finally made their way to the fringes of the Chesapeake Bay.

Maryland environmental officials confirmed in December that a thumbnail-size mussel was found attached to a boat at Glen Cove Marina on the Susquehanna River in Harford County, less than 10 miles from the Bay.

In November, Pennsylvania environmental officials confirmed the discovery of a zebra mussel at the Conowingo Dam in Maryland; the first time Driessena polymorpha had been found in the lower Susquehanna River. Shortly thereafter, they were also found in Muddy Run, a Susquehanna tributary in Pennsylvania, just north of the state line.

Tom Horvath, a scientist with the State University of New York's College at Oneonta, who has monitored zebra mussels since they were discovered in the Susquehanna headwaters, said populations in New York lakes have "really taken off."

The typical pattern, he said, is for the mussel to invade a lake and rapidly expand its population until it ultimately spills out into the river below the lake, where the creatures often "carpet the bottom" for several hundred yards.

"Then they peter out and you just find them hit-or-miss the rest of the way down," he said. But when the zebra mussels, or their larvae which float with the current, find another lake or slow patch of water, they can produce a new "seed" populations that help infest downstream areas.

"I think the hydroelectric dams in Pennsylvania will start creating new source populations for further seeding of the downstream sites, sort of the hopscotch model," Horvath said. Link


Overview Paper: Impacts of White-tailed Deer Overabundance in Forest Ecosystems (Jun 2008; PDF 307 KB)

USDA. FS. Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry.Land managers, especially in southern New England, need to recognize that deer are exacerbating invasive plant problems, while also seriously degrading native forest vegetation. Integrating aggressive deer population control measures into land management programs holds great promise in restoring these forests.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Week of December 22, 2008

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!


Mussel sightings have raised concerns

By Molly Murray, The News Journal

A decade ago, scientists in Delaware and Maryland were on high alert for zebra mussels, a creature that reproduces so quickly that thousands could quickly reduce the stream of water through intake pipes to a trickle.

But over the years, as zebra mussels stayed to the north, south and west, people here pretty much stopped thinking about them -- until last month, when they started showing up in the Maryland portion of the Susquehanna River.

The mussels aren't the only species concerning state regulators. Invasive plants such as rock snot, a problem in the upper Delaware River, can also be a major concern, Miller said.

He said some states are looking at banning felt bottoms on fishermen's wading boots. The felt, used to help prevent slips and falls, can pick up potentially invasive plants.

Zebra mussels get their name from the stripes on their shells. They are small and are native to the Black and Caspian seas and Ural River. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, they spread to most of Europe. They first were discovered in North America in 1988, when they were found in the Canadian waters of Lake St. Clair -- which connects Lake Huron and Lake Erie.

Within two years, they were found throughout the Great Lakes and had begun spreading to the Illinois and Hudson rivers. Link


Puerto Rico hunting, killing troublesome monkeys

LAJAS, Puerto Rico (AP) — The easy life is over for hundreds of monkeys — some harboring herpes and hepatitis — that have run wild through southwestern Puerto Rico for more than 30 years.

Authorities launched a plan this month to capture and kill the monkeys before they spread across the entire island, threatening agriculture, native wildlife and possibly people. But some animal experts and the farmers who have complained for years about the rhesus and patas monkeys think it may be too late.

"I don't honestly believe they will ever get rid of the patas monkeys in Puerto Rico," said Dr. Mark Wilson, director of the Florida International Teaching Zoo, which has helped find zoos willing to take some of the animals. "They may go deep into the forest, but they will never go away. There's just too many of them, and they are too smart."

At least 1,000 monkeys from at least 11 distinct colonies populate the Lajas Valley. After a year of study, rangers began trapping them in steel cages that are about 10 feet long, baited with food and equipped with a trip lever. Two of 16 monkeys were released with radio collars for further tracking. Each of the others was killed with one shot from a .22-caliber rifle.

The scourge of nonnative animals is particularly acute in Puerto Rico because of its lush climate and lack of predators. Several species of dangerous snakes, crocodiles, caimans and alligators — imported, kept as pets, then released into the wild — now flourish in more than 30 rivers, said Sgt. Angel Atienza, a ranger who specializes in exotic animals.

As Atienza spoke, his agents were investigating reports of a mountain lion running wild in hills near the small central town of Adjuntas. Behind his office, cages confined snakes, monkeys and a 400-pound black bear confiscated from a private menagerie.

The Lajas monkeys arrived in the 1960s and '70s after escaping research facilities on small islands just off the mainland. They adapted easily, fueled by plentiful crops, including pineapple, melon and the eggs of wild birds.

The creatures cost about $300,000 in annual damage and more than $1 million in indirect ways, such as forcing farmers to plant less profitable crops that don't attract the animals, according to an analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies. The monkeys are also blamed for a dramatic drop in the valley's bird population. Link


Brooklyn Parrots Seek Legal Perch

By Amy Lieberman

NEW YORK -- Quaker parrots are not your average urban pigeon.

With their brilliant green feathers and salmon-colored beaks, the birds are certainly worth a crane of the neck -- especially when spotted perched upon power lines in New York City, a far cry from their native Argentinian landscape.

Yet the parrots, also known as monk parakeets, are not indigenous to the United States, leaving them virtually unguarded from predators and electric companies alike.

New York City Councilman Tony Avella is hoping to provide a legal nest of protection with a resolution he is now drafting.

"I want to ask state legislators to include the parrots as a protected species, so the city can enforce the law and stop the netting that is occurring," Avella said. "And second, I want to ask the city to take all the reasonable steps so when people come across these nests they can try to relocate them, rather than just destroying them." Link


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Week of December 15, 2008

Teacher finds ‘destructive’ weed in Pembroke pond, Mass.

Braintree - William Glover, an East Middle School science teacher, has made “a remarkable discovery,” according to Dianne Rees, director of science for the Braintree public schools.

Glover has found and identified hydrilla, an invasive aquatic weed, in Hobomock Pond in Pembroke.

“This is only the second time that hydrilla, which is mainly a southern plant, has been identified in Massachusetts,” Rees said.

She described hydrilla, which is able to grow an inch a day and reproduce in three different ways, as “extremely invasive and destructive.”

The state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will now take responsibility for a cleanup to try to save the pond where Glover discovered hydrilla, Rees said.

Michelle Robinson, an aquatic biologist with the DCR, explained in a published report why she was impressed with Glover’s work.

“Hydrilla is very easily misidentified, and he was very, very thorough,” she said. Link

Lagoon resident leads fight for mangroves


NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Florida -- Amber Thompson has planted 17 trees over the years, but there's one species on her waterfront property that she's likened to a monster that just won't die.

It's a Brazilian pepper-tree cluster and she's tried everything she knows to get rid of it. For the seven years she's owned the property, Thompson has watched the invasive plant push out the mangroves on the shore. She's tried to eradicate it several times.

"Each time it seems to come back stronger," she said. "Instead of just being a single plant, now it's just spread. It is a monster."

In hopes of a solution, Thompson is turning to the Marine Discovery Center for help to restore the shoreline back to native habitat. She is one of hundreds of property owners along the Indian River Lagoon the organization hopes to help through a restoration project.

Stephanie Wolfe, a biologist and restoration coordinator, said the goal is to restore four miles of shoreline with native vegetation, such as mangroves, which provide a natural defense against erosion, filter water and provide habitat for aquatic wildlife. The program for shoreline from New Smyrna Beach to Oak Hill is funded by a $40,000 grant awarded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Link


NYS to Adopt Tough New Policies to Stop Devastating Aquatic Invasive Species Introductions

ALBANY, NY (12/18/2008; 0930)(readMedia)-- Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River advocates today applauded New York State's latest effort to shut the door on aquatic invasive species introductions. Later this month, a new set of rules from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will begin a countdown to requiring stringent ballast treatment on-board ships transiting the state's waters. Ship ballast is the primary pathway for aquatic invasive species introductions into the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system and the state's strong ballast treatment standard makes New York State a world leader in stopping aquatic invasive species noted the groups.

New York State's new rules, which will go into effect on December 19th, are among the strictest ballast treatment rules in the country. Per the rule, all ships traveling state waters will be required, by January 1, 2012, to have ballast treatment technology on board. Treating ballast water will prevent further introductions of aquatic invasive species.

"In the absence of strong federal ballast clean-up legislation, we are pleased that New York State has stepped up to create strong ballast rules," noted Jennifer J. Caddick, Save The River Executive Director. "Stringent technology requirements for ships operating throughout the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway will be key in stopping more devastating aquatic invasive species introductions." Link


Massive Hydrilla Treatment Planned for Lake Tohopekaliga, Florida

The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) are preparing for a massive effort to control invasive hydrilla growing over more than 6,000 acres of Lake Tohopekaliga.

Working in cooperation with the FWC Bureau of Invasive Plant Management, the SFWMD Vegetation Management Division will apply Aquathol, a liquid herbicide, over affected areas of the lake. The treatment is scheduled to begin December 15 and is expected to take four to five days.

Aquathol is approved for lake use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is considered the most effective and environmentally friendly method of controlling hydrilla in Lake Tohopekaliga. Link


NY Guv's budget plan hits Long Island environmental programs


Local environmental programs that rely on a helping hand from the state could be left scrambling for money under Gov. David A. Paterson's proposed budget, which reduced a key state environmental fund by 19 percent and entirely eliminated some categories such as Long Island waterfront revitalization and aid to aquariums and zoos.

There would also be fewer people at the Department of Environmental Conservation to watch polluters, regulate hazardous waste and enforce wildlife and state lands laws. A hiring freeze and proposed $91.8 million budget cut would eliminate 240 positions from the DEC next year, even as it tries to recover from staff cuts in the 1990s.

Advocates fear the economic climate will jeopardize advances in regulating polluters, improving water quality and acquiring open space. "The cuts are more than dramatic. They're crippling," said Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, citing Paterson's proposal to cut the Environmental Protection Fund from $255 million to $205 million.

Over the past two years, that money helped Island municipalities fight invasive species, buy farmland development rights and upgrade sewage treatment plants. Under Paterson's budget, the first two funding categories would be cut 70 percent and 41 percent, respectively, and waterfront revitalization money that paid for the upgrades would no longer be available on the Island. Link


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Week of December 8, 2008

More Than One Zebra Mussel Now in the Chesapeake Region

December 09, 2008 -- More zebra mussels have been found in the Maryland portion of the Susquehanna River, state environmental officials confirmed this morning.The alien mussels, which can cause millions of dollars in damage to water supply and hydroelectric intake pipes and upset the local ecology, were attached to a boat at Glen Cove Marina in Harford County. Earlier this month, a single mussel was discovered within the intake hydroelectric station at Conowingo Dam, which spans the Susquehanna between Harford and Cecil counties. Link


Beetles to fight hemlock pests in Kennebunkport

KENNEBUNKPORT — As Mainers settle into their winter routines, hemlock woolly adelgids, invasive insects that destroy hemlocks, are gearing up for their winter feast in the southern part of the state, and Maine Forest Service staff are planning for a busy survey season.

Surveys conducted earlier this month by the Maine Forest Service show that the adelgids have infested Kennebunkport and surrounding areas. Local residents are being asked to examine their trees for signs of the insects, and to report their findings to the forest service.

"The people of Maine are extremely important partners in looking for the hemlock woolly adelgid," said Allison Kanoti, a forest entomologist with the Forest Service. "Even with full staffing we can only look at a small fraction of hemlocks at risk of adelgid infestation in the state."

"State budget constraints have forced staff cuts," she said. "Now more than ever we need help from Maine citizens."

Next week, Forest Service staff will release about 500 of a species of beetle that eats adelgids. It is hoped that the beetles will gain a foothold in the area and help limit the damage caused by invasive adelgids. Link


Monday, December 1, 2008

Week of December 1, 2008

Invasive Species DVD Targets Hunters and Anglers

America's hunters and anglers are essential stakeholders in managing invasive species that threaten native fish and wildlife populations and their habitats. "Defending Favorite Places," a high-definition DVD featuring invasive species information and testimonies of sportsmen and women across the nation, will be released in December. The DVD will be available for free or may be downloaded from the USDA Forest Service.


Two wild boars taken in Central New York

By David Figura, The Post-Standard

Two wild boars were taken in the Town of Scott in Cortland County on Nov. 22. Marcus Eriksson, of Onondaga Hill, took his hog, weighing around 300 pounds on the hoof, while hunting from his treestand in the morning. Peter Gianferrara, of Camillus, took his boar mid- afternoon. It weighed about 260 pounds.

This past winter, the DEC, in conjunction with several state, federal and county agencies, resolved to do its best -- by trapping and other means -- to take wild boars off the landscape in Central New York. Officials consider the animal an invasive species capable of substantial crop damage, along with wreaking havoc on other plant life, native animal species and water quality in wetlands and streams.

Wild boards can be hunted and taken year-round by any person who has a small-game license, though doing so tends to scatter them. The DEC asks that hunters and others avoid harassing groups of hogs because it will hinder their eradication efforts. Seen or killed a wild boar lately? Call the DEC at 607-753-3095, extension 296. Link


Northern Woodland Invasives: Doing Battle with Non-Native Plants

by Tovar Cerulli, Northern Woodlands

A huge mound of vines, 8 feet wide by a dozen yards long, lay baking in the August sun. The effort required to cut all those vines by hand, drag them out of the woods, and pile them up to dry suggested someone with a mission.

Walking past the mound, I left the clearing and turned down a woods trail in search of that someone. A few minutes later, I found David Paganelli at work with a chainsaw. Strewn along the slope were the felled stems and silver-bottomed leaves of another targeted plant, autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellate). Working alongside him – wielding clippers and a yellow mustard squeeze-bottle – was his son Ryan, dragged out here during a visit home from Tufts Medical School. Father and son had spent most of that day cutting olives and applying Roundup to the stumps.

David greeted me with an easy smile and was eager to jump right into the subject at hand – invasive plants. “We’ve got quite a bouquet here,” he began. He estimates that 12 to 15 percent of his 200 woodland acres in Strafford, Vermont, had been dominated by autumn olives. After hundreds of hours of labor, there are still several acres left to clear. Shade-tolerant buckthorns – both common (Rhamnus cathartica) and glossy (Frangula alnus) – are scattered over the entire property, forming a patient and ubiquitous understory. There are also a few barberries on ledge outcrops among the larger trees and 20 to 30 Morrow’s honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii) shrubs to deal with... Link


Beach redbay trees in jeopardy

By Bo Petersen, The Post and Courier

Among the live oak and palmetto, redbay trees usually don't get much notice. Until now.

"They're dying all up and down here," said Roy Baylor, pointing both ways along Arctic Avenue on Folly Beach (South Carolina).

"These trees saved our house during (Hurricane) Hugo," Kelly King said sadly as she looks up at the browned leaves of the big tree in her front yard a few streets back.

Laurel wilt disease has begun killing the redbays in the Lowcountry, biologists strongly suspect. Actually a laurel plant, the tree is one of the ubiquitous evergreens of the coast, the swaths of winter green beneath the live oaks along the barrier islands and inland. It can live more than 100 years and grow to a tree's girth. It looks like a skinny-leafed magnolia.

The redbay is a vital piece of the coastal ecosystem, providing late-fall fruit for threatened species of migrating birds and butterflies, cover for nesting, scenery, erosion control and seclusion for beach homes. Link


New York wants tougher invasive species rules

By KAITLYN DMYTERKO, Legislative Gazette Staff Writer

Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis and Gov. David A. Paterson are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to enforce stricter regulations on ballast water discharges from shipping vessels to stem an invasion of harmful invasive species in New York’s waterways.

Ballast water refers to water held in ships’ cargo holds to keep lighter vessels stable in rough seas, according to the report, Ballast Water Management to Combat Invasive Species, released by Congressional Research Services.

A loophole in the federal 1977 Clean Water Act allows transoceanic ships to dump ballast water in American waterways, often transporting nonindigenous species, such as zebra mussels, with them, according to Grannis. Section 401 of the Clean Water Act gives state water pollution agencies, such as the DEC, jurisdiction to develop stricter regulations for water quality in their individual states.

In 1980, the invasive species, the zebra mussel, was transported with cargo into the Great Lakes. Since then they have plagued the Hudson River ecosystem causing detrimental effects on waterway infrastructures and environments.

Zebra mussels attach themselves to docks, boats and water pipelines and can cause serious damages to infrastructure, including the clogging of pipelines. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, economic damages from zebra mussels is estimated at almost $5 billion a year in the United States.

The DEC is pushing the EPA to enforce ballast water regulations requiring shipping vessels to carry out ballast water exchanges 50 nautical miles away from the shore in water more than 200 meters deep. This water exchange would require vessels to release mucky, sediment-filled water and replace it with fresh ocean water before the ship drifts into state waterways.

The DEC is also calling for the installation of water treatment systems on all cargo vessels. The agency wants the water to meet DEC-recommended guidelines that would require vessels to maintain a salinity level in its ballast water of at least 30 parts per 1,000 before entering New York waters. This mandate would reduce the level of contaminated species the boats are carrying.

According to the DEC, armed forces vessels would be excluded from these standards.

Manna Jo Greene, environmental director for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, said “The ounce of prevention embodied in the DEC’s recommended standards for regulating ballast, bilge and greywater will prevent many pounds of damage, which can be very difficult, if not impossible, to remediate after the fact.” Link


Monday, November 24, 2008

Week of November 23, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Single invasive mussel found in Maryland

By Candus Thomson,

For the first time, Maryland waters have been invaded by an alien mussel capable of fouling public water systems, destroying native aquatic life and causing millions of dollars in damage.

A single zebra mussel was scooped from inside a water intake pipe upstream from the Conowingo Dam that spans Harford and Cecil counties by a fish survey team on the Susquehanna River. The mussel, about a half-inch in size, was sent to a Pennsylvania laboratory for positive identification.

"Finding just one doesn't make sense," said Jonathan McKnight, an invasive species expert with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. "When they show up, they show up with a vengeance."

McKnight says DNR staff will post signs at Susquehanna River launching ramps to remind boaters and anglers to report any sightings and to scrub their vessels and equipment before moving them to prevent unwanted hitchhikers. Link


Scientist says he may have bacteria to tame zebra mussels

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (AP) - A New York State Museum researcher says he has created a non-toxic alternative natural means to kill zebra mussels, the invasive aquatic species that has taken hold in New York and covers the bottom of some lakes.

Using bacteria that the mollusks can feed on in small quantities, but which will kill them if they eat too much of it, Dr. Daniel Molloy calls it "a biological pesticide."

Expected to be available next year, it will be sold by the Museum’s commercial partner, Marrone Organic Innovations, based in Davis, Calif.

Earlier this year the company received a $500,000 National Science Foundation grant to commercialize the pesticide. The New York State Museum received $275,000.


Invasive plants threaten Florida's native species

By Steve Patterson, The Times-Union

In sand dunes by the St. Johns River, chain saws and squirt bottles became weapons to defend Florida's ecology.

Land-clearing crews crossed Buck Island in teams, some slicing through young trees as others sprayed herbicides to kill the fresh-cut stumps. Their targets were the Jacksonville island's 5,000 shoots of saltcedar, a fast-spreading Asian plant that long ago overran the American Southwest and is emerging on the Atlantic coast.

The project was organized by the First Coast Invasive Working Group, a collection of governments and landowners trying to control an explosion of plants that aren't native to the state. In some cases, foreign plants can crowd out native plants that birds and animals use for food or shelter.

About 1.5 million acres of Florida parkland and uncounted millions of private acres are covered with non-native plants, the state Bureau of Invasive Plant Management estimated last year.

The agency, part of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, tracked almost $25 million in state, local and federal spending in 2007 to control upland plants and another $16 million to fight aquatic weeds.

The First Coast group was set up to help land managers get money for local projects and make the most of their efforts, said Trish Gramajo-St. John, the group's chairwoman. Link


Earthworms’ Underground Invasion Threatens Forest Sustainability


Earthworms have long been considered a friend to farmers and home gardeners, playing a vital role in soil quality. However, recent studies have shown that glaciated forests in North America—forests that evolved without native earthworms--now face the invasion of European earthworms from agriculture and fishing.

This underground invasion has compounding impacts on the capacity of the soil to provide nutrients and sequester carbon—an important role as the world faces global climate change.

Kyungsoo Yoo, University of Delaware assistant professor of soil and land resources, and colleagues Anthony Aufdenkampe of the Stroud Water Research Center and Cindy Hale, an ecologist at the University of Minnesota Duluth, were recently awarded a three-year, $397,500 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Research Initiative (USDA-NRI) to study the quantitative coupling of the ecology of European earthworm invasion--specifically in Canada, New England and the Great Lakes region--with mineral chemical weathering and carbon cycling.

Prior to colonization, the glaciated areas of North America were devoid of native earthworms. European earthworms were first introduced to U.S. soils when immigrants brought crops from their native lands, harboring earthworm cocoons. Worms made their way to the edges of farmlands and to the forests.

In addition, these glaciated areas are pocked with small lakes; fishermen often dispose of unwanted live bait, infesting areas where native earthworms were not typically found. Unpaved logging roads through these regions also assisted the spread of non-native earthworms, as compacted soil on tires disperses cocoons and live earthworms.

“Gardeners and farmers all appreciate the beneficial effect of earthworms,” says Yoo, “However, there were systems where worms didn’t exist before and, as we have seen with other non-native invasions, there are ecosystem implications.”

According to Yoo, 10 to 20 years ago, hikers in Minnesota’s forests noticed changes in the leaf litter layer. They noticed that the leaf layer was rapidly disappearing over the years. The researchers understand why this was happening, as Hale’s doctoral research showed that non-native earthworms were slowly eating their way into the forest, mixing the litter layer into the mineral soils in the process.

“Soil scientists and agriculturalists recognize the benefits of mixing organic matter with the mineral soil in production agriculture,” Yoo says. “However, in native forests the leaf litter is essential to the survival of native trees’ seedlings. The litter layer provides protection for temperature changes and deer browse. As earthworms invade and consume the leaves, the layer and therefore the success of seedlings, is compromised.”

He adds, “This relationship has been singled out as one of the most important factors impacting the future sustainability of forests in the glaciated areas in the U.S.” Link


Volunteers needed at Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, Massachusetts

Maynard, Massachusetts - Volunteers are needed to help to help clear invasive plants from Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, Wednesday, Dec. 3, from 9 a.m. to noon.

A second session is scheduled for, Thursday, Dec. 18, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Meet at the Hudson Road entrance to the refuge in Sudbury, about 2.7 miles west of Route 27 and just east of the Stow line.

For all refuge projects, work boots and gloves are recommended.

Please bring water, sunscreen and gloves and dress for cold weather.

Clippers, weed wrenches and saws provided. Herbicide will be used.

All dates are subject to change based on weather conditions and snow depth. Please call or e-mail in advance to confirm your participation and that the work party will take place at the time and date indicated. Contact Amber at or 978-580-0321.

For additional information about the Friends of Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge events and volunteer opportunities, go to


Deer abundance is topic of talk

Connecticut - The Fairfield County Municipal Deer Management Alliance hosted its second fall seminar on the impact of deer overabundance recently at the Weston Public Library.

Chairman Patricia Sesto, Ridgefield representative to the alliance, introduced the expert speakers, saying, “Damage to our natural areas and the consequences to other wildlife are probably the least recognized negative impacts associated with deer overabundance.”

Dr. Emile DeVito, manager of science and stewardship at New Jersey Conservation Foundation, spoke of the loss of native vegetation below the browse line of five feet and the opportunity this browse line provides for non-native vegetation.

“If you want your forests to recover,” said Dr. DeVito, “you are going to have to reduce the deer population to single digits.” Once the forest is healthy again, which could take a decade or more, the forest can support 15-20 deer per square mile.

Dr. DeVito also spoke to the need to create seed banks within the recovering forest. He recommends fencing off plots within the damaged forest and replanting those with native species to provide the desired seed source.

He spoke about the need for a multi-layered forest of shrubs and saplings in the understory and mature trees in the canopy. “The dense shade that results from these multiple layers favors native flowers and discourages non-native species,” he said, adding a diversity of plants is needed to support a diversity of wildlife.

The multiple layers also contribute to more stable soils and less stormwater runoff, according to the alliance’s release. Soil compaction from deer “traffic” and accelerated consumption of leaf litter by an invasive Asiatic earthworm were also cited as contributors to more stormwater runoff. Link


Job Opening: Invasive Species Program Coordinator

Job Type: full-time permanent position

LOCATION: Summerland Key, Florida

DATE PREPARED: November 18, 2008

SALARY: $35,000/yr + benefits

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS: The GreenSweep Invasive Species Program Coordinator participates in preserve operations including the maintenance, management and development and coordination of conservation programs. This may include one or more of the following functions:

• Leads work teams and supervises staff
• Coordinates community support
• Removes exotic plant species
• Maintains budgets, assists with grant reporting and grant writing
• Maintains tools and equipment



Keith A. Bradley, Assistant Director
22601 SW 152 Ave.Miami, FL 33170
Phone: (305-547-6547 Fax: (305) 245-9797



Monday, November 17, 2008

Week of November 16, 2008

Call for Abstracts

Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council’s
24th Annual Symposium, Delray Beach, Florida
May 26th–29th 2009

We invite abstract submissions for contributed oral or poster presentations at the 2009 FLEPPC Annual Symposium. The meeting will be held Tuesday, May 26th through Friday, May 29th in Delray Beach, Florida, at the Marriott Hotel.

Submissions are welcome for any area of invasive plant species investigation.

Deadline for Abstract Submissions: January 15th 2009


If web access is not available, please submit abstracts to:

LeRoy Rodgers, FLEPPC Program Chair
South Florida Water Management District
3301 Gun Club Road, MS#5650, West Palm Beach, FL 33406561-682-2773 voice; 561-682-5044 fax


Milfoil spreading in Opechee, NH


The state limnologist responsible for monitoring and eradicating milfoil from the area's lakes has noted a marked increase in the amount of the invasive weed in Lake Opechee.

Jody Connor said the little lake is "one of those that fell through the cracks" because the lack of a lake organization meant the Department of Environmental Services had no formal outfit through with it could work.

Today, Connor will discuss his recent findings at a session organized by lake resident Alan Beetle, who has invited anyone with an interest in preserving the lake to join them at Patrick's Pub on Route 11 B in Gilford."

There is a growing band, and though it is not all around the lake yet, right now it's about 38 acres," Connor said.

Milfoil is a snakelike invasive species thought to have originally come from Europe in the 1950s and 1960s. It is very hardy and a very small piece of the weed that gets on a boat propeller can move to another location and begin growing.

Connor said as the clumps get heavy, they drop to the bottom of the lake and begin to root into independent plants. An over-abundance of milfoil can choke out plant species that normally grow in a lake and can at some point affect the overall health of a body of water."

We knew the lake had milfoil," Connor said about the initial discovery of the weed near the Winnipesaukee River inlet at the Lakeport Dam in the 1960s.

By 1986, a lake survey indicated "sparse" infestation near the Lakeport Dam at the inlet. Waiting for that year's drawdown, Connor said the department attempted to cover the existing milfoil with a barrier that prevents sunlight from reaching the plants and encouraging their growth.

By 2000, Connor said the milfoil "had started to become locally abundant and common where the river comes in."

The latest survey, just completed six weeks ago, shows that milfoil 'has really spread."

One of the largest areas of concentration is near the initial infestation site near the Lakeport Dam where Connor said global positioning sensors and mapping show a band of milfoil about 6.8 acres in total mass. Link


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Week of November 9, 2008

Updated 11/13

N.Y. looks at Vt. law to control invasive species

By Tom Mitchell, Rutland Herold

LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. — A key issue facing the first chairman of a new invasive species advisory committee for all of New York is whether the state would be able to adopt an exotic plant transport law similar to Vermont's, to help check the spread of invasive aquatic plants between lakes.

James Hood, communications director for the Lake George Association, has been named chairman of the newly formed New York State Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC).

"I am very excited and honored to be the first chairman of the Advisory Committee," Hood said Friday. He has already served as representative for the New York State Federation of Lake Associations (NYSFOLA) on the committee.

The Advisory Committee, formed in the last few months, is comprised of 25 nongovernmental stakeholder groups, representing academia, industry, local government and environmental advocacy, LGA officials said.

"Not having industry representatives at the table (in the past) was a glaring weakness in previous efforts to control invasives" in the state Hood said. The wide range of representation will be crucial to developing comprehensive strategies to prevent the introduction of invasive species in water bodies and to control existing infestations, he said.

"This puts the LGA and New York state lake federation in a very advantageous position," Walt Lender, the LGA's executive director, said.

"New York's lakes have been heavily impacted by aquatic invasive species, (like Eurasian water milfoil) and now we will be able to have a say in how the state manages invasives," Lender said.

In Lake George, LGA has managed milfoil and zebra mussels for a number of years. The group began a stewardship program that implemented boat inspections at access areas that was well received last summer, Hood said.

Meg Modley, invasive species coordinator for the Lake Champlain Basin Program in Vermont, developed the idea of using the Green Mountain State's transport law as a model and has provided guidance on the matter for them, Hood said.

Vermont's law prohibits the spread of exotic species like milfoil between lakes.A provision allows officials to write tickets for offenders who don't comply with the law. Such a penalty will be needed in New York to make a new regulation or law work there as well, Hood said.

"If one state is doing something well, we want to consider implementing that in our own plans."

The idea of having continuity in regulations between neighboring states has also had appeal in this case.

The committee will also draw on work Modley has done with the Adirondack Park Agency.

"It's not just a lake by lake issue" but transcends watershed boundaries, becoming more of a "regional issue," Hood said.

The new invasive species advisory committee will look into whether a regulation could suffice initially in New York to address aquatic plants like Eurasian milfoil or a state law would be needed.

Once committee members come up with a proposal they would likely present to the Invasives Species Council, a statewide group representing nine state agencies. The council was formed last year to help develop a strategy to deal with invasives.

"I look forward to working with the members of the Invasive Species Council, to make sure that New York is prepared to deal effectively with the huge challenges presented by invasive species," Hood said.

Currently, the new invasives committee will likely propose addressing the spread of exotic fauna like zebra mussels and other animal species through education programs rather than regulations, Hood said.

Another species the group could address is the potential for spiny water flea to move up the Champlain Canal to Lake George from Great Sacandaga Lake to the south by boat or bait bucket, Hood said.

The exotic flea collects on fishing line like gobs of jelly and can cause a clumping of the line and clog eyelets of fishing rods. Link


TVA to reduce weed control on Alabama lake

The Associated Press

GUNTERSVILLE -- A decision by the Tennessee Valley Authority to reduce its weed-control program on Lake Guntersville is drawing protests from opponents in northeast Alabama who say the move could choke tourism and hurt development.

About 300 angry residents, elected leaders and economic recruiters attended a meeting last week about the federal utility's decision to quit killing aquatic weeds around private docks and residential areas on the north Alabama reservoir.

TVA will continue spraying weeds around boat launches and other public areas. But critics said the decision to stop weed eradication work elsewhere will result in an overgrowth of weeds and a loss of tourism dollars.

"We base our tourism on fishing and outdoor activity," tourism director J.P. Parsons said. "TVA created the lake, and it's their responsibility to service the lake."

TVA spokeswoman Barbara Martucci said Monday the utility ended weed control work at most reservoirs in the 1990s.

Reducing the program at Guntersville and Lake Nickajack in Tennessee, the only two places where it continued, will save about $800,000 annually, she said. The utility decided it wasn't fair to eradicate weeds in just two lakes.

"It's a huge job that is probably not conquerable, keeping the weeds controlled," she said. "Only one person has to bring a weed in on their boat for there to be a problem."

The timing of the decision angered TVA critics already upset over a 20 percent rate increase approved last month and a decision to grant chief executive Tom Kilgore a raise of about $500,000 that could increase his incentive-driven annual pay to $3.27 million.

State Rep. Jeff McLaughlin, D-Guntersville, called the weed decision "crazy" and said it would cost local government $1 million to replace the work previously done by TVA.

"These people are mad, and they ought to be," McLaughlin said at the meeting. "Where's Marshall County and Gunters-ville going to find a million dollars? Can't you spare a million dollars to keep that river clean?"

With about 68,000 total acres of water, Lake Guntersville was covered by about 17,000 acres of milfoil and hydrilla this year, said Martucci. TVA has been treating about 1,000 acres three times a summer using chemicals and harvesting machines, he added.

While the weeds can foul boat propellers, surround docks and make swimming impossible in places, they also provide a haven for fish and have helped make the lake a popular destination for angling.

"Bass fishermen love the weeds. There are reservoirs where people do not want us to touch the weeds," Martucci said.

TVA is the nation's largest public utility and sells electricity to 159 distributors with 8.8 million consumers in Tennessee and parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.


Removing the mighty phragmites at Marion Lake

By Eric Shultz, The Suffolk Times

According to Lori Luscher, the phragmites invasion of Marion Lake started with a 1991 nor'easter.

"Waves brought the bay over the road into the lake, making it brackish," she said of the freshwater East Marion (New York) lake, which has no natural outlet to Orient Harbor. "Year after year, it got worse, the weeds got taller, thicker, and eventually started taking over the whole shore."

Though accounts vary of how, when and why the invasive strain of wetland weed (technically known as Phragmites australis) grew to dominate the lake, Southold Town Trustees and property owners like Ms. Luscher joined forces with the town highway department this past weekend to begin clearing the shore of the invasive stalks.

They started near the Bay Avenue bridge.

"Once the weeds took over the bridge area, the flow of water under the bridge became a concern," Ms. Luscher said. "Without flow, the lake would go stagnant and become polluted."

Ms. Luscher, representing the community of lakeside property owners, said she'd applied for an eradication grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation last year and had also applied for cutting permits with the Town of Southold and the DEC in 2006. She said the permits and a matching grant of $100,000 from the DEC all came together last month.

Bill Fonda, spokesman for the DEC, said that the powers that be in the state agency were impressed with the community group's efforts. "It is kind of unusual for any homeowner's association to come to us [for permits]," he said. "But they proved to us that they can do this."

With a year's worth of yard sales and an "awareness" booth at this year's Maritime Festival in Greenport, Ms. Luscher said community members are "getting close" to matching the grant. She said they're about $40,000 short.

"Most of the neighbors who live on the lake and surround the lake have been generous," Ms. Luscher said.

But even for the generous, the process of removing phragmites properly is time-consuming and laborious, according to Ms. Luscher, which is why the community group has hired Putnam County-based consultant and contractor Tim Miller to do the bulk of the work.

That work involves cutting the stalks down to about a foot above water level during the fall, using hedge trimmers and snips -- "No heavy duty mechanical stuff," she said. "We don't want to disturb the wildlife." -- then coming back in the spring to "wick" them.

According to Peconic Bay Keeper Kevin McAllister, wicking is the process of hand-applying a chemical that is environmentally safe (for everything but the phragmites) into the weakened stalk. The straw-like root system will then soak up the chemical and kill the weed, he said.

Comparing what Ms. Luscher and company are doing to a recent successful phragmites eradication project in Long Pond Greenbelt near Bridgehampton, Mr. McAllister says that the twofold approach to Marion Lake is good. But he says that the community group will have to maintain and monitor the site long after the invasive plants have been removed. "Phragmites will come back in," he said. "The plants thrive in nutrients, gain foothold and march across the marsh."

Ms. Luscher, a summer resident of East Marion for 30 years, said she and her neighbors are well aware of this and are in it for the long haul, which she said she hopes isn't more than two years. She said that once the phragmites are killed, they plan to replant with some native species like Hibiscus mosheutos, Baccharis halimfolia, Iva frutescanes, Rosa rugosa, Typha latifolia, Juncus effusus and Scirpus tabernaemontanii to crowd out any remaining stalks -- and to take over the phragmites' beneficial role of absorbing nutrients, which helps prevent algae blooms, according to Mr. Fonda.

"We also plan on flooding a portion of the lake, which is another proven method of eradication," Ms. Luscher said. "Once the clearing is complete, it will be up to each landowner to monitor for regrowth and periodically test areas for other methods of maintenance."

Ms. Luscher says that the entire phragmites removal project could cost up to $250,000, "depending on how far we go with it."

By removing the phragmites around the bridge, Ms. Luscher said Southold Town saved her community group about $20,000.

Southold Trustee Jill Doherty said that the town wanted to do its part in clearing the lake. She said the town also is in charge of "de-watering," or drying-out, the dead stalks on the East Marion fire department's property and transporting them up-island to be incinerated. If they're disposed of in a landfill, she said, they will begin growing again.

Ms. Doherty added that septic runoff and natural waste from geese and other animals have contributed to the nitrates that have allowed the invasive plants to proliferate in recent years.

"I grew up in East Marion," the trustee said. "We used to ice skate on the lake, surrounded by cattails -- it was beautiful. [The phragmites] have gotten out of hand." Link


Study: Separate Great Lakes, Mississippi basins

By SOPHIA TAREEN, Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — Connections engineered more than a century ago between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed should be changed to block the advance of invasive species that can cause irreversible damage, an environmental advocacy group says.

Separating the two basins is the only way to stop the transfer of some species, including the voracious Asian carp that is within 50 miles of Lake Michigan, says a feasibility study issued Wednesday by the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

"If you want to protect the Great Lakes, this is what you have to do. Invaders like Asian carp are unpredictable, but their effects are catastrophic and irreversible," said Joel Brammeier, Alliance vice president and lead author of the study. "You've got to remove their pathway."

Researchers fear the carp, which can grow up to 100 pounds and more than 4 feet long, could eat all the food that's available for other species in the Great Lakes ecosystem, possibly leading to the collapse of the lakes' multibillion-dollar fishing industry, Brammeier said.

Scientists say more than 150 invasive species have entered the Great Lakes, multiplying rapidly and feeding on native species or outcompeting with them for food. Millions of dollars have been spent trying to control the zebra mussel and round goby, which already have moved between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins.

Millions also have been spent on electrical barriers across the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal south of the city to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan. The Alliance says the barriers, which deliver a non-lethal jolt to fish, have been effective, but are not a long-term solution.

There are no natural connections between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds. More a century ago, engineers linked them with a complex network of manmade canals and existing rivers to reverse the flow of the Chicago River and keep waste from flowing down it to Lake Michigan, which Chicago uses for drinking water.

Possible changes include erecting concrete walls and constructing more shipping locks, according to the study. It does not make explicit recommendations, but calls on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency to conduct further study.

"The EPA is very concerned about the impact of invasive species on the health of the Great Lakes. Limiting their spread is important for protecting the Lakes and we need to look at all options for controlling their movement," EPA spokeswoman Phillippa Cannon said. "We welcome suggestions from the Alliance and look forward to reading its report." Link


Volunteers Sought for Invasive Species Clearing at SVAC, Vermont, Nov. 14

MANCHESTER - On Friday, Nov. 14, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., a pair of experts from The Nature Conservancy, Dave McDevitt and Sharon Plumb, and as many volunteers as can be mustered, will remove invasive species from the Boswell Botany Trial.

Quietly, steadily, and over time, intruders have crept onto the Southern Vermont Arts Center's Boswell Botany Trail - the nature walk of the original Webster estate, circa 1917, and one of the Top 10 Wildflower Walks in the state according to Vermont Life - and threaten to destroy the native organisms found there. The culprits: buckthorn, honeysuckle, Asiatic bittersweet and Japanese barberry, four invasive species introduced to the area as ornamental plants that have spread precipitously to many wild areas around the state.

To help address, and to promote awareness of, the statewide challenge of non-native plant species proliferation, SVAC and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) are partnering in TNC's Wise on Weeds! (WOW!) program. A growing number of businesses, schools and other organizations have signed on as WOW! sites, committed to removing invasives from their grounds in favor of native plants.

To volunteer or to get more information, call SVAC Volunteer Coordinator, Ed Cyzewski, at 362-1405, ext. 29, or drop by the Arts Center, which is just off West Road in Manchester, Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 12 to 5 p.m. Visit any time at


Volunteers for Staten Island this Saturday

On Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m., you can assist with the ongoing forest restoration project at Conference House Park. Volunteers will remove invasive plant species, preventing their spread and encouraging native plant and animal habitats to recover. As needed, volunteers will plant, seed, or mark with flagging some of the native species.

The Conference House, built in the 17th Century and located at the southern most tip of New York State in Staten Island, is famous for the Peace Conference held there on September 11, 1776.

Gather at the flagpole outside the Visitors' Center at 1 p.m. Sturdy shoes and long pants are highly recommended. Gloves and tools will be provided. Tap water and restrooms are available at the Visitors' Center.

Because the work will take place in several areas of the park, anyone arriving late may have difficulty finding the group, so RSVP if you plan to attend. Call Cheri Brunault at 718-390-8021, or e-mail at This event is rain or shine.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Week of November 2, 2008

Suffolk County targets invasive aquatic plants in Yaphank


By autumn, little remains of the thick green carpet of plant life that covers Yaphank's Upper and Lower lakes for much of the year. But the weedy culprits - cabomba and variable leaf watermilfoil - are still here, washing in clumps over the dam at Mill Road or waiting, submerged, to bloom in spring.

Each year, dismayed residents here and at Canaan Lake in North Patchogue have watched the rampant growth of invasive aquatic plants turn these popular fishing spots into virtual swamps.

"The whole lake is just one mat of weeds," said Robert Kessler, an Upper Lake resident and member of the Coalition to Save the Yaphank Lakes. "By June you can almost walk across the lakes."

Now Suffolk County has taken up the problem with a $200,000 study on the best way to eradicate the pesky plants. The study should be completed sometime next year, with work expected to begin on a pilot project at Canaan Lake in 2010.

Options include dredging, dosing the water with herbicide, using a machine harvester to remove the plants or some combination of those techniques. Some have even proposed dismantling the dams that created the lakes in the first place - something Kessler and other Yaphank residents oppose.

Each method has drawbacks. And because rivers run through all three lakes, any action taken there would likely have consequences downstream.Nineteen-acre Upper Lake and 25-acre Lower Lake sit on the Carmans River, which the state has designated a scenic and recreational river. The main stem of the Patchogue River flows through 26-acre Canaan Lake, which is on the state's impaired waterways list because of nitrogen pollution."

It's a really complicated situation, because you're balancing the needs of the residents living on the lake and the issues they are facing, in addition to the ecological and financial issues," said Kathy Schwager, an invasive species ecologist with the Nature Conservancy on Long Island. The Conservancy was part of a coalition of concerned residents, environmental advocates and government officials that researched the issue for more than a year.

At times, the weeds cover 70 percent to 90 percent of the surface of the affected Brookhaven lakes, said Charles Guthrie, regional fisheries manager for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Fish still swim there, but the overgrowth makes it hard to get to the water."

It has really ruined the recreational resource that the community of Yaphank and many others have enjoyed for hundreds of years, since the river was dammed," said Brookhaven Town Councilwoman Connie Kepert.

Last year Kepert set up the Carmans River task force to address the problem at Upper and Lower lakes. The group assembled detailed information on the lakes' plant life and other physical characteristics, and reviewed how other communities have dealt with cabomba and watermilfoil.

In Manorville, the Peconic River Sportsman's Club had tried using a mechanical harvester to remove cabomba from its private 45-acre lake, but the lake was too big for one machine to make much of a dent, Guthrie said.

The club had better luck with an herbicide known as fluridone. But that alone is unlikely to solve the problem in Yaphank and North Patchogue. The herbicide pellets have to remain in place for one to three months, a tricky proposition in a free-flowing river. And fluridone doesn't kill watermilfoil, which requires a different chemical called triclopyr. While both herbicides are approved for use in New York state, DEC regulations don't permit them to be used at the same time, Guthrie said.

Dave Thompson of Trout Unlimited, a fishing conservation group, says removing the dams would help because the plants don't thrive in cool, fast-moving water. It would also create more habitat for native brook trout. Residents have resisted that option, saying they want to restore the lakes' past recreational use. Article


Town of Esopus purchases weed harvester

Projects in Columbia and Ulster counties (New York) are among funding awards announced under the state Environmental Protection Fund's Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.

All grants are awarded on a 50-50 matching basis.

Receiving funding locally are:

* Town of Esopus, $59,088 to purchase a mechanical aquatic weed harvester to improve the town's aquatic vegetation control program, thereby preserving access to public beaches, use of non-motorized boating facilities and fishing areas of the river. Article


Invading bugs ravage Georgia's forests

By Charles Seabrook for the Journal-Constitution

In Georgia’s rugged mountain forests and its lush maritime woods on the coast, ecological tragedies of great consequence are unfolding —- alarming die-offs of native trees from exotic insect pests.

On the coast, it is the red bay tree —- and possibly the sassafras —- that’s succumbing. Driving around Jekyll Island the other day, I saw scores of red bays dead or dying. I saw no healthy ones. The same situation is true for red bays in other maritime forests all along the Southeast coast. Killing them —- and threatening them with extinction —- is a relentless disease called laurel wilt.

Some reports indicate that the malady also may be spreading to our beloved sassafras trees, which are kin to red bays.

The disease is caused by a fungus spread by the exotic red bay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus), a native of Asia. The beetle likely entered the country in wood packing material with cargo imported at Port Wentworth, Ga. Red bays began dying in Georgia and South Carolina in 2003.

“All of Georgia’s coastal counties now have confirmed laurel wilt, and the disease is moving northward in South Carolina, southward in Florida, and inland at an alarming rate,” said James Johnson, a tree disease expert with the Georgia Forestry Commission.

No known treatment exists, he notes. Landowners, loggers and others are asked to leave dead red bay trees in the woods and not salvage them for logs, chips or firewood.

Red bays are native to the Coastal Plain region from Virginia to eastern Texas. They are ecologically and culturally important, although of minor commercial timber value. Red bay trees provide fruit for songbirds, turkeys and quails. Deer and black bears browse on the foliage and fruits. The caterpillars of the palamedes swallowtail butterfly require red bay leaves for development.

More information:

Mountain trees

In North Georgia’s mountains —- and throughout much of the Southern Appalachians —- it is the magnificent hemlock that’s dying by the tens of thousands. The cause is a tiny, exotic, aphidlike insect known as the hemlock wooly adelgid, also a native of Asia. It sucks the sap at the base of hemlock needles, which die and fall off. The tree then starves to death.

Hardly any area of the 750,000-acre Chattahoochee National Forest is untouched by the voracious pest. Dead and dying hemlocks —- large and small —- are now common sights along mountain streams, slopes and trails. Scientists say the hemlock, a major component of Southern Appalachian forests, could go the way of another once-common forest tree, the American chestnut, which was virtually wiped out by an exotic blight during the first half of the last century and has never recovered.

A sliver of good news is that special chemical treatments done by trained arborists can help hemlocks withstand adelgid infestations. The treatment is helping save some hemlocks in homeowners’ yards and at some forest campgrounds.

But for the vast majority of hemlocks in the forest, the treatment is impractical. About the only hope —- slim at best —- for the forest hemlocks is imported beetles that prey on the adelgid. Three Georgia institutions —- the University of Georgia, Young Harris College and North Georgia State College and University —- are raising the beetles in special laboratories for release into the forest. But funding is critical. The Georgia ForestWatch organization ( is trying to raise funds for the labs. Article


Monday, October 27, 2008

Week of October 26, 2008

Updated 10/31

Vermont's forests threatened by invasive insects

By Ross Sneyd, Vermont Public Radio

(Host) Vermont's forests are threatened by three insects that could devastate stands of many tree species, including the state's trademark sugar maple.

Officials hope to keep timber and firewood out of the state that could be harboring the tiny bugs.
VPR's Ross Sneyd has this report.

(Sneyd) On all sides, Vermont is surrounded by states that already have been infested by tiny insects that literally eat trees to death.

From New Hampshire, there's the hemlock woolly adelgid. They've already been found in Vermont.

The Asian longhorned beetle has infested 18 square miles in central Massachusetts.

New York is trying to hold off emerald ash borer. Just this summer that insect was found 40 miles north of Vermont's border with Quebec.

(Turmel) "So, yeah, we're right in the middle and we're pretty nervous about it.''

(Sneyd) State entomologist Jon Turmel is out in the field surveying Christmas tree lots for pests.

The Christmas trees look OK. But the state's hardwoods could be in danger. More


Emerald pest killing ash trees; could hit New York

By Brian Dwyer,

OSWEGO COUNTY, N.Y. -- "The Emerald Ash Borer is a small shiny metallic green beetle. It's about a half an inch long." Salmon River Seward Greg Chapman said.

It's amazing how something so small can cause so much damage.

However, the Emerald Ash Borer, first found in the U.S. six years ago, has killed millions of trees in the Midwest and Northeast by feeding on the tree's water and nutrient system.

"The Emerald Ash Borer has been shown to cause just massive die-offs of ash in the areas where it has been found. There's almost a 100% mortality rate of trees in those areas,” Chapman said.

It's not yet been found in New York, but it's been confirmed in Quebec, Ontario and Pennsylvania, all of which border New York. Experts say there's serious reason for concern. Article


Pesticide For Zebra and Quagga Mussels

From Midwest Lakes Policy Center blog

Researchers from the New York State Museum have developed a bacterial toxin to control zebra and quagga mussels that is environmentally friendly. The two invasive species from the Caspian and Black Seas have clogged water-intake pipes at factories and power plants around the world and throughout the Great Lakes Basin.

The bio-pesticide was derived from a common soil bacterium. When ingested in large quantities, the bacterium is lethal to zebra and quagga mussels, but is harmless to other organisms and humans. Blog


Million Dollar Milestone in the Adirondack Park

New York State bolstered efforts to combat invasive species in the Adirondack region when it approved the contract with the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy to provide $1.3 million to operate the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) for five years. Funds support three full-time staff who facilitate invasive species coordination, early detection, monitoring, control, research, education and spread prevention in the Adirondacks. APIPP was the first of eight Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management to receive state funds for core coordination.


Invasive species may be linked to canal

Associated Press

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - Experts from Vermont and New York are to meet next week to talk about whether the Champlain Canal plays a role bringing invasive species to Lake Champlain.

Experts say the movement of water and boats through the canal that links Lake Champlain with the Hudson River is a likely path by which some invasive species have reached the lake.

Biologists say there are nearly 50 invasive species in Lake Champlain, including zebra mussels and Eurasian milfoil.

But 184 invasive species have been recorded in the Great Lakes, 87 in the St. Lawrence River and 91 in the Hudson River.

The Nov. 6 meeting in Fort Edward, N.Y., is sponsored by the Lake Champlain Basin Program and the New York State Champlain Canal Corp.

Information from: The Burlington Free Press,



Earthworm activity can alter forests' carbon-carrying capabilities

Earthworms can change the chemical nature of the carbon in North American forest litter and soils, potentially affecting the amount of carbon stored in forests, according to Purdue University researchers.

The Purdue scientists, along with collaborators from the Smithsonian Institution and Johns Hopkins University, study the habits of earthworms originally brought to North America from Europe. They want to determine the earthworms' effect on forest chemistry by comparing carbon composition in forests that vary in earthworm activity.

Some earthworms eat fallen leaves and other plant material - the litter of the forest floor - while others eat roots or soil organic matter. This begins a decomposition process in which organic materials pass through the animals' digestive tracts and back into the soil.

The research team found that forests with greater numbers of invasive earthworms tend to have litter and soil organic matter enriched in the plant material lignin, which is typically harder for bacteria to decompose, said Purdue biogeochemist Timothy Filley. Sites with low numbers of these earthworms accumulate plant carbon in forms more easily degraded by bacteria.

Overall, the amount of carbon in the litter and duff layer, which is the surface mat of decaying organic matter and roots, decreases because of earthworm activity. However, the change in carbon chemistry may make it harder for soil organisms to decompose the carbon remains. After earthworms feed on forest litter, they take the carbon down into the soil and mix it in, potentially leading to a buildup of carbon in the soil.

"If the litter just stays on the surface of the soil, then it's likely that normal oxidation of organic matter happens and a lot of that carbon will just go into the atmosphere," said Cliff Johnston, a Purdue environmental chemist and professor of agronomy. "However, if carbon can bind to the soil particles, such as clay, it might be a long-term way of stabilizing carbon."

Another way earthworm activity may affect the fate of carbon and the environment is in the thickness of layers of leaves and debris left on forest floors. Bare soil is generally very dark, absorbing more sunlight, which may dry it out quickly. A layer of lightly colored leaves is moderately reflective and holds moisture near the soil. Either condition may affect factors such as the warming of forest soil and the timing of snowmelt.

"Ultimately, we will look at such things to determine the potential invasive earthworms have in changing the flux of CO2 out of the forest and how much that could impact climate change," said Filley, who also is an associate professor of earth and atmospheric sciences.

The earthworms that the team studies were brought to North America by early European colonists, probably in the ships' ballasts or in plant soil. In northern North American forests the settlers found land devoid of such creatures because the worms never reoccupied soils formed when the glaciers melted. Link


Game Commission Removes Protection on Feral Swine

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct 27, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe recently rescinded protection on feral swine found in the wild in Butler, Bedford and Cambria counties.

"In May, when we removed protection on feral swine in Pennsylvania, we maintained the protection on them in Butler, Bedford and Cambria counties to facilitate trapping by the U.S. and Pennsylvania departments of Agriculture," Roe said. "Trapping is viewed as the most effective way to remove feral swine from the wild, because it limits their dispersal into new areas.

"However, as we are now outside the time of year in which trapping is most effective, we want to afford hunters the maximum opportunity to remove feral swine that they encounter while participating in the upcoming big game seasons."

The Game Commission has determined that the eradication of feral swine from Pennsylvania is necessary to prevent further harm to public and private property, threats to native wildlife and disease risks for wildlife and the state's pork industry.

"We are not seeking to establish a hunting season for feral swine, but rather we are committed to rid Pennsylvania of this invasive species," Roe said.

Licensed hunters, including those who qualify for license and fee exemptions, are eligible to participate in the unlimited taking of feral swine. They may use manually-operated rifles, revolvers or shotguns, as well as and muzzleloaders, bows and crossbows. All other methods and devices legal for taking feral swine must be conducted in compliance with the provisions of Section 2308 of Title 34 (Game and Wildlife Code), which can be viewed on the agency's website ( in the "Laws & Regulations" section in the left-hand column of the homepage.

Any person who kills a feral swine must report it to the Game Commission Region Office that serves the county in which the harvest took place within 24 hours. Residents who witness feral swine also are urged to contact the Region Office that serves their county. For contact information, as well as list of counties that each region office serves, visit the Game Commission's website (, click on the "Contact Us" link in the left-hand column of the homepage and scroll down to "Region Offices."

Nearly 25 states across the nation have persistent and possibly permanent populations of feral swine established in the wild, and Pennsylvania is one of 16 new states where introduction is more recent and may still be countered through decisive eradication efforts.

Feral swine have been declared to be an injurious, non-native, invasive species of concern in Pennsylvania that are suspected to have been introduced into the wilds of this Commonwealth through a variety of means, including both intentional and unintentional releases. Feral swine also have been determined to pose a significant, imminent and unacceptable threat to this Commonwealth's natural resources, including wildlife and its habitats; the agricultural industry, including crop and livestock production; the forest products industry; and human health and safety. Article


Spiny water flea found in New York lake

GREAT SACANDAGA LAKE, NY — The spiny water flea, an aquatic invasive species, has been confirmed in the Great Sacandaga Lake by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

This DEC officials said this confirmation marks the first time the spiny water flea has been confirmed in an inland body of water. It had previously been identified in the Great Lakes.

"Unfortunately, another invasive species has spread in the waters of New York state," said Steve Sanford, chief of DEC's Office of Invasive Species. "We are doing our best to alert fishermen, boaters and all users of New York waters to the presence of the spiny water flea and to promote practices that minimize the spread of these non-natives."

Native to Eurasia, the spiny water flea is a crustacean that can have a major impact on aquatic life because of its rapid reproduction rates. In warmer water, the spiny water flea can hatch, grow to maturity, and lay eggs in as few as two weeks. Sometimes its eggs can remain in a dormant state for years before hatching, making tracking it and limiting its spread difficult.

Spiny water fleas were first found in Lake Huron in 1984 and in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario a year later.

It is not known how or when they were introduced into Great Sacandaga Lake, thoguh DEC officials specualted the adult, larvae or eggs may have been brought in by bait bucket, bilge water, live well, boat, canoe, kayak, trailer or fishing equipment. Article


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Week of October 19, 2008

Wild Boar in Massachusetts

Massachusetts State police said a 200-pound Russian wild boar was euthanized after being struck by a vehicle on Route 2 in Lancaster this week. Monte Chandler of the U.S. Department of Agriculture said there are no Russian boar populations in Massachusetts. Lisa Capone, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, confirmed that the animal was a wild boar. The animal likely escaped from a game farm because Massachusetts does not have a native, free-roaming wild boar population, she said.

In Pennsylvania, breeding populations of wild boar are believed to currently exist in two counties (Bedford and Cambria), where pregnant females and young have recently been seen and killed. Damage caused by feral hogs to wildlife, habitat and property has been reported in the southwest, southcentral and northeast regions of the state. Two additional counties, Montgomery and Warren, have unconfirmed sightings of young and/or pregnant sows. Feral hogs are classified as an invasive species by the Pennsylvania Invasive Species Council.


Scientists Sort Out “Who's Who” Among Australian Pine Species

By Marcia Wood, ARS, USDA

Invasive Australian pines that crowd out native plants in Florida present a particular conundrum. In the Sunshine State, it can be very difficult to tell the look-alike Casuarina species and subspecies from one another.

Correct identification is important to the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists who want to import Casuarina-quelling insects from the invasive tree's Australian homeland to stop the plants' uncontrolled advance in Florida. But until they know who’s who among the confusing Casuarina trees, researchers won’t be able to precisely match the helpful insects with the exact Casuarina with which they evolved in Australia. Perfect matches may be critical to the insects’ success in the United States.

To solve the identity puzzle, ARS botanist and research leader John Gaskin is analyzing DNA taken from Casuarina trees growing in Australia, where their identification is certain. He’s comparing that to DNA from the Casuarina trees currently running amok in south Florida.


Fending Off Invaders a Full-Time Job at the Delaware Coast

By Andrew Ostroski, Delaware Coast Press

LEWES -- They creep in and smother the living. They're invasive species -- plants that don't naturally inhabit an area -- and they're nothing new to Delaware's coast.

And while experts say some local residents have helped them flourish, the state Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is taking measures to ensure they don't take too large a toll on native plants.

At Cape Henlopen State Park, volunteers are working to stop the growth of the Wisteria vine, an invasive species from Eastern Asia that has killed some vegetation and is threatening several acres more. The vine was believed to have been planted decades ago.

According to Rob Line, director of environmental stewardship with DNREC's Division of Parks and Recreation, there's something sinister behind these seemingly unassuming plants. While the vine grows along bike trails and along the park's fishing pier, it blocks sunlight for other vegetation, eventually killing other plants.

"These are ecosystem changers," he said. "There are literally hundreds of plants that are not native to the Mid-Atlantic states that we use all the time. But the ones we worry about are the ones that can go in and change an entire plant ecosystem."

The invaders

According to Line, there are a number of species that have overrun portions of land near the coast.

"The No. 1 issue that we're seeing is with the Japanese black pine tree (Pinus thunbergii)," he said. "It's commonly used as a landscaping plant."

Also inhabiting the coast is the Asian sand sedge (Carex kobomugi), a salt-tolerant plant that competes with American beach grass, Line said. And there's also the Chinese lespideza, a low shrub that often grows on roadsides; the Oriental bittersweet vine, low bushes that have been known to grow into trees; and several other species of plants that environmental groups are hoping to control.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Week of October 12, 2008

Updated 10/17

Biocontrol plans for Japanese knotweed in UK

From, About Science-Nature

A superweed spreading throughout the UK could be brought under control by introducing plant-eating predators from Japan, scientists believe.

Now a team of scientists has identified natural predators from its native home that could also control it in the UK.

The plans have been submitted to the government for approval.

Dick Shaw, the lead researcher on the project, from Cabi, a not-for-profit agricultural research organisation, said: “In 2000, we went out to Japan to see whether the plant had any natural enemies that it had lost when it came here.

“We found that it had a lot: there were 186 species of plant-eating insects and about 40 species of fungi.”

The team then began to test the predators to find those that only had an appetite for Japanese knotweed - and not any other plants.

Eventually, the list was whittled down to two: a sap-sucking psyllid insect (Aphalara itadori) and a leaf spot fungus from the genus Mycosphaerella.

Dr Shaw told the BBC: “We have done some efficacy trials here in the lab and they are showing a significant impact.” Article


Variable-leaf milfoil found in Vermont

WATERBURY, VT – Aquatic biologists at the Agency of Natural Resources have confirmed the arrival a new invasive plant in Vermont, variable-leaved watermilfoil, in Halls Lake in Newbury.

This is the first confirmation of a new invasive aquatic plant in Vermont since European frogbit was found in Lake Champlain in the early 1990s.

The variable-leaved watermilfoil identification was confirmed by genetic analysis conducted by Dr. Ryan Thum of Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

Vegetatively, variable-leaved looks almost identical to a rare watermilfoil in Vermont. In this case, genetic identification was important as all the plants in the lake had no reproductive parts to confirm identification without this analysis.

Variable-leaved is a popular aquarium trade species and is a potential vector for invasive aquatic plant spread. The agency, in cooperation with the Agency of Agriculture, Foods and Markets, inspects Vermont aquarium retailers annually. Just recently, officials found two retailers in southern Vermont selling variable-leaved watermilfoil.

Staff at the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Water Quality Division have deployed rapid-response initiatives this week to remove the nuisance plant from the lake, which appears to be limited to a small two-acre cove at the southern end.

“We may have a rare opportunity to prevent further spread of this plant in Halls Lake and to other waters in Vermont,” said Ann Bove, an aquatic biologist at the agency. “A continued response is critical to success.”

Variable-leaved watermilfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum) is not native to Vermont and can be difficult to control once established. It is aggressive and grows rapidly, is easily spread by plant pieces and can displace beneficial native aquatic plants, said Bove.

Like Eurasian watermilfoil, already present in Vermont, variable-leaved watermilfoil can also make swimming, boating and other recreational uses difficult. New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and New York have been plagued by this species for a number of years.

Early detection is vital to protecting Vermont’s waterbodies from harmful invasive plants and animals. The agency’s Vermont Invasive Patrollers (VIPs) program monitors local waterbodies for new introductions of invasive species while also learning about native aquatic plants and animals and their habitats. For more information on becoming a VIP, visit


Monday, September 29, 2008

Week of September 28, 2008

Updated 10/3

Annual Delaware Invasive Species Council meeting on November 7, 2008

The annual Delaware Invasive Species Council meeting is scheduled for 8:30 AM - 2 PM on Nov. 7, 2008, at the St. JonesReserve (Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve) near Dover, Delaware. Highlights include featured talks by John Gaadt, LorraineFlemming, and others, a delicious catered lunch, exhibits, invasivesquiz, door prizes, and more. Each registrant will receive a copy of thebrand new publication, "Mistaken Identity? Invasive Plants and their Native Look-alikes for the Mid Atlantic," which will also be the subjectof a hands-on workshop including an outdoor walk. All this for only $20! Pesticide credits and Certified Arborist credits are available. For more information, directions, and to register see the DISC website, Registration deadline is October 29.


Invasive Forest Pest Conference on October 30 in Ithaca, NY

This one day conference will focus on three of the most importantinvasive non-native forest insect pests in the Northeast: HemlockWooly Adelgid, Emerald Ash Borer, and Asian Longhorned Beetle. These insects pose tremendous threats and may change the composition and function of our forests forever. The conference will feature a group of 14 experts who will examine the impacts, issues, and current research, as well as discuss management options and examine the potential ecological impact these pests will have on the region's forests. Continuing education credit will be available.

For more information contact Mark Whitmore, Dept. of Natural Resources, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853. .


Mysterious bat deaths under study in New York

By Sara Foss,

Last winter, tens of thousands of hibernating bats died in caves and mines in eastern and upstate New York, Vermont, Massachusetts and northwestern Connecticut. Many, but not all, of these bats had a white fungus around their muzzles and other parts of their bodies; as a result, biologists named the affliction white-nose syndrome. Some of the bats hibernating in affected areas survived, but not many: In eight New York caves, the mortality rate ranged from 80 percent to 100 percent.

Scientists have many questions about white-nose syndrome, and few answers. They don’t know what it is. They don’t know whether the bats are transmitting it among themselves, or whether people are spreading it, or whether it’s even killing the bats. What they do know is that what’s happening is unprecedented.

“Any time we start having mass die-offs, we ought to be taking it very seriously as a potential canary in the coal mine,” said Merlin Tuttle, director of Bat Conservation International, based in Austin, Texas. “We may be looking at a serious environmental crisis.” He suggested there are probably multiple causes. One factor, he said, may be population decline in groups of insects that bats rely on for food.

Tuttle doesn’t view the bat die-off as an isolated incident. Recently, scientists have been baffled by the unexplained disappearance of millions of commercial honeybees, a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, and a few years ago scientists reported that a strange new fungus that kills frogs, toads and other species of amphibians was spreading around the globe.

Al Hicks, the mammal specialist for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s endangered species program, views the bat die-off as symptomatic of an environment in crisis. He suggested that the world’s increasing population and “the increased rate that we move things around on this planet” are taxing the earth. “Our ability to move quickly and frequently around the planet allows ever increasing movement of organisms,” he said. Invasive species such as zebra mussels and purple loosestrife threaten to throw New York’s ecosystem out of whack, he said.

New York is considered the epicenter of the bat die-off.

Little brown bats, the most numerous bats in the Northeast, are being killed off in the greatest numbers. But the Indiana bat, which is listed as an endangered species, has also suffered, as have northern long-eared and small-footed bats, eastern pipistrelle and other bats using the same caves and mines.


Invasive grass is threat to Maryland's native species

By Ishita Singh,

The latest threat to Maryland native species is a unique-looking plant with leaves that look like they have been folded and then smoothed out.

Wavyleaf basketgrass (Oplismenus hirtellus ssp. undulatifolius), native to Southeast Asia, was first discovered in 1996 in Patapsco Valley State Park. Last year, researchers found it in Little Paint Branch Park in Prince George's County.

The plant's seeds spread in the fall by sticking to animals, pants, boots and bikes. Once the seed is planted, Wavyleaf Basketgrass out-competes native plant life. There are no insects or animals that feed on it, so its growth is unimpeded by natural causes.

"It has the potential to completely change the diversity of the ecosystem, and take the bottom out of the food chain," said Maryland Department of Natural Resources ecologist Kerrie Kyde.

"Because this was found so early, we think we can control it, but citizens need to be alert, walk around their property and keep an eye out on these things," said Ellen Nibali, a horticulture consultant with the Home and Garden Information Center at the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service.

Wavyleaf basketgrass has alternating leaves that taper to a long point. It is a bright green and grows about 2 feet high. For more information, go to Wavyleaf Basketgrass.



'Weed It Now' drive pushes on

By Trevor Jones, Berkshire Eagle Staff

SALISBURY, Conn. — Along a path to the Appalachian Trail, the forest here seems strangely out of place. With thickets of tall brush and vines overtaking the trees, it looks more like the entrance to a dense tropical jungle than the trees and ferns of a typical New England woods.

That's because the area has been overwhelmed by invasive plant species in recent years and several local organizations are working to change it, and other regional woods, back to their natural state.

The work is part of "Weed It Now," a five-year initiative focusing on the removal of invasive plant species from more than 9,000 acres of the Berkshire Taconic forest plateau. Covering three states and 75 different properties, it's the Northeast's largest invasive plant removal project to date.

"This trail provides such an amazing habitat for wild species," said Jessica Murray Toro, conservation project manager for the Nature Conservancy. "Invasive species are the greatest threat to that natural habitat."

Invasive plants like Japanese barberry and garlic mustard spread rapidly and can have dramatic impacts on forests by out competing other plants, reducing tree regeneration and affecting water and soil chemistry. These changes can disturb the region's natural balance, further impacting other plants and animals' habitats.

Crews have been working along the western portion of the Massachusetts-Connecticut border starting last week, including Great Barrington, Egremont and Sheffield. They have sprayed herbicides on specific plants, working through dense barbed plants and high reaching vines. Once the work is complete, they will return to the site the following year to ensure the herbicide worked.

"If you don't do something about it, you're going to see, long-term, (invasive plants) having a huge impact," said David O'Brien, a Lewis Tree Services foreman working at the site.

"Weed It Now" is an initiative formed by the Nature Conservancy, the National Park Service, the Connecticut Appalachian Trail Committee of the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. In its final year, representatives from the initiative have already sprayed more than 7,000 acres of forest impacted by the unwanted plants.

The goal is to get the invasive plant population under 5 percent in the forest, safeguarding more than 25,000 acres from the threat of invasive plant species. Article


NJ pond infested with Asian swamp eels


GIBBSBORO, N.J. - Another unwelcome foreign animal species is causing trouble in New Jersey.

State fish and wildlife officials have found hundreds of Asian swamp eels slithering and breeding around Silver Lake in Gibbsboro.

Four states now have the eels, which can gobble up all kinds of aquatic life.

No one has figured out how to kill off the creatures.

The eels are highly adaptable. They can change sex. They can burrow in mud and survive for weeks without food. They can also crawl over land to other bodies of water.

Officials believe someone may have had the eels as exotic pets and dumped them in the waterway. Article from Newsday.


Odyssey: artificially intelligent submarine searches for invasive species

MIT researchers have designed a new robotic underwater vehicle that can hover in place like a helicopter — an invaluable tool for deepwater oil explorers, marine archaeologists, oceanographers and others.

The new craft, called Odyssey IV, is the latest in a series of small, inexpensive artificially intelligent submarines developed over the last two decades by the MIT Sea Grant College Program’s Autonomous Underwater Vehicles Laboratory.

The new Odyssey IV, which has just completed sea trials off Woods Hole, Mass., can move through the deep ocean, up to 6,000 meters down, stopping anywhere in the water column and constantly correcting for currents and obstacles. Navigating to its preprogrammed destination, it can hover in place, making detailed inspections of the footings of an offshore oil platform, or photographing the flora and fauna around an undersea vent.

This summer, this latest-generation craft has been demonstrating its new abilities on its first scientific mission, a study of the George’s Bank area of the Gulf of Maine, which is hugely important to the region’s commercial fisheries. Odyssey is being deployed in a series of dives to map and observe an invasive species of sea squirt called Didemnum that has been infesting New England waters. MIT Sea Grant’s Judy Pederson has been tracking the Didemnum invasion for several years, hoping to prevent it from smothering important native species; Odyssey IV will be her eyes on the seafloor. Article


New Members of Invasive Species Advisory Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. — At a meeting of the National Invasive Species Council today, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced the new members of the Invasive Species Advisory Committee, who will provide advice and recommendations to the council.

The Invasive Species Advisory Committee is made up of 31 individuals representing a broad range of stakeholders including scientific, conservation, agriculture, State and Tribal governments and industry organizations that are impacted by invasive species.

Members of the Fifth Convening of the Invasive Species Advisory Committee:

Peter Alpert, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts
Nancy Balcom, Connecticut Sea Grant
Leslie Cahill, American Seed Trade Association
Timothy Carlson, Tamarisk Coalition
Earl Chilton, II, Ph.D., Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Janet Clark, Montana State University
Joseph DiTomaso, Ph.D., University of California, Davis
Otto Doering, III, Ph.D., Purdue University
Susan Ellis, California Department of Fish and Game
Miles Falck, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission
Christopher Fisher, Colville Confederated Tribes
Amy Frankmann, Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association
Ann Gibbs, Maine Department of Agriculture (Representing National Plant Board)
Catherine L. Hazlewood, Esq., The Nature Conservancy
Lisa Ka’aihue, Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council
John Kennedy, Wyoming Game and Fish Department (Representing the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies)
Robert McMahon, University of Texas at Arlington
Kathy Metcalf, Chamber of Shipping of America
Edward L. Mills, Ph.D., Cornell University
Jamie K. Reaser, Ph.D., Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council
Steven Jay Sanford, New York Department of Environmental Conservation
Jeffrey D. Schardt, Florida Department of Environment Protection
Celia Smith, Ph.D., University of Hawaii
David E. Starling, Aqueterinary Services, P.C.
Nathan Stone, Ph.D., University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
Douglas W. Tallamy, Ph.D., University of Delaware
John Peter Thompson, The Behnke Nurseries Company
Jennifer Vollmer, Ph.D., BASF Corporation
Damon E. Waitt, Ph.D., Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center University of Texas at Austin
Robert H. Wiltshire, Center for Aquatic Nuisance Species (Representing the Federation of Fly Fishers)
Kenneth Zimmerman, Lone Tree Cattle Company

News Release

New York DEC partners with Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis today announced the signing of a five-year contract with the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP), an award-winning program focused on detecting and eradicating invasive species such as garlic mustard, Japanese knotweed and purple loosestrife in the Adirondack Park.

APIPP is one of New York’s regional partnerships focused on the problem of invasive species, which have proliferated throughout the state’s waterways, forests and farmlands. Because they typically come from other parts of the world, invasive species such as zebra mussels and Eurasian milfoil often don’t face natural ecological checks and balances and, therefore, reproduce and spread at alarming rates. Their negative impact is increasing largely due to the rise in global trade and travel.

A national- and state-award winning program, APIPP over the years has made presentations, developed public-service publications, produced videos and undertaken other efforts to spread awareness about the ecological damage caused by non-native plants. Volunteers have served as monitors for hundreds of lakes, ponds, rivers and forests and have ripped out tons of invasive plants from Adirondack roadsides. Currently, more than 30 invasive species including Japanese knotweed, garlic mustard, giant hogweed, swallowwort, Eurasian milfoil have been found in the Adirondack region. With this new contract in place ($1.36 million through the state Environmental Protection Fund), APIPP plans on expanding its working boundaries and broadening its mission beyond plants.

APIPP’s principal partners are The Nature Conservancy (TNC), DEC, Adirondack Park Agency (APA), and State Department of Transportation (DOT). TNC hosts the program at its Keene Valley office and coordinates volunteer efforts.


Crab attack: Chinese mitten crabs are invading Columbia County, NY


FISHERMEN NEAR THE MOUTH of the Hudson River found the first Chinese mitten crabs in the Hudson in 2007. Robert Schmidt of Hillsdale, Professor of Biology at Bard College at Simon's Rock and assistant director of Hudsonia, says he had discovered Chinese mitten crabs at the mouth of the Roeliff Jansen Kill by this past spring. In a couple of years, he says, "They'll be coming to a neighborhood near you."

Schmidt says as recently as September 23 he found four mitten crabs in the Kline Kill under a bridge on Wire Road in Germantown, and with the help of interns Erin Swift and Ira Shadis he consistently found mitten crabs in other waterways of Columbia Dutchess counties this past summer. Near Hudsonia, the environmental research institute on the campus of Bard College in Annandale, Schmidt says he has found more than 150 exoskeletons shed by mitten crabs in a small stream, indicating a sizable population there. He has also found crabs in the Cheviot Brook in northern Germantown.

When Nyack Fisherman Bob Gabrielson discovered the first crabs in the Hudson River, he was struck by their appearance. "When we caught the first one in 2007 the crab was pretty darn ugly," says Gabrielson. "It looked like a spider crab, looked like it had a muff of hair on its claws. I guess that's 'cause it looked like a mitten."

They're actually downright destructive, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. "They have the potential to destroy commercial catches and nets by pinching the fish and nets--this was a big issue in San Francisco Bay," Lori O'Connell of DEC said in an email.

Mitten crabs were first discovered in the United States during the 1990s in San Francisco Bay, where Schmidt says they have interfered significantly with commercial fisheries. On the east coast, they've been found in the Chesapeake Bay and the St. Lawrence River.

A potential problem for the Hudson River ecosystem is that the crabs reproduce at a rapid rate and are known to lay upwards of a million eggs at a time, causing them to push native species of all kinds out of the environment and clog water systems by their sheer numbers. Mitten crabs also make their homes by burrowing into riverbanks, causing significant erosion and habitat destruction.

Another issue is that there are no indigenous fresh water crabs of any kind in North America: blue crabs native to the Hudson are saltwater crabs that exist primarily in the southern part of the river, where the water has a high salt content. Schmidt says the mitten crabs' rapid reproductive rate will force a sudden high density of crabs into an environment that never has had crabs, and that this will disrupt the ecosystem.

Mitten crabs mate in salt water, but they migrate into freshwater as they mature. The fact that they have moved into Columbia County only two years after they were first discovered at the mouth of the Hudson is the result of the crabs' ability to travel through waterways rapidly. Another problematic factor is that mitten crabs have the capacity to travel long distances on land.

No one has come up with any sort of method to control their population yet, according to Schmidt, so they're continuing to spread at alarming rates. "They're frightening," he says. "They could spread all over Columbia County and the United States."



Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Open Space Stewardship Program (OSSP)

Courtesy of "Sound Bytes," the newsletter of the Long Island Sound Study

The Brookhaven National Laboratory’s Open Space Stewardship Program (OSSP) encourages students to become “environmental stewards” by involving them in research projects throughout Long Island. This year, Long Island Sound Study (LISS) has joined OSSP to coordinate research projects within LISS stewardship sites. Some projects that have already begun include surveying plant, macro invertebrates, and fish populations at Sunken Meadow State Park; examining wetland disturbance at Cedar Beach; mapping and removing invasive plants at Nissequogue River State Park; and examining the distribution and effects of invasive Asian shore crab populations at Flax Pond. For more information on OSSP, please contact Mel Morris or Larissa Graham.