Monday, February 25, 2008

Week of February 24, 2008

Updated February 29

Water Lettuce: Potomac River’s Floating Salad Bar Has No Takers

Contact: K. L. Kyde

This past summer, US Geological Survey scientists discovered the exotic plant water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) floating over submerged aquatic vegetation beds in Mattawoman Creek, a large Potomac River tributary in Charles County. They raised an alarm in the aquatic invasive species community, because water lettuce can form dense carpets of vegetation on the water surface, blocking sunlight from reaching submerged plants and reducing the oxygen exchange at the water’s surface. It can also grow to form surface mats impenetrable to boats, swimmers and waterfowl. Although water lettuce is a perennial plant, it would not normally survive Maryland’s winter temperatures, because it has a low temperature minimum of 59°F for growth. Yet it has been found as far north as New York. Questions still exist about its origin, its ability to withstand northern winters, its spread rate and the effects of rising water temperatures on its possible spread north. For this reason, the Maryland Invasive Species Council has named water lettuce the January Invader of the Month. Full Article


New Hydrilla Treatment in Florida

Contributed by Bill Bair

Officials of the South Florida Water Management District are touting a new weapon in the battle against hydrilla, an aquatic weed that clogs many Central Florida lakes. Working in cooperation with the Department of Environmental Protection, SFWMD field crews will apply the chemical Galleon to 4,000-acre Cypress Lake, which is located in the Kissimmee Chain.

A water district release said Galleon has been used a number of times in smaller lakes with great success. It kills the whole plant and does it slowly, limiting any risks to fish. SFWMD aquatic plant expert Mike Bodle. Bodle explained that Galleon also kills the invasive water hyacinth, saving both time and money. The herbicide will be dispersed in a liquid form from airboats, so anglers and other boaters will not be disrupted. Galleon does not require any fishing or fish-eating restrictions.

"Galleon could become a great new tool in our aquatic plant management toolbox in the effort to control hydrilla," said Tina Bond, PhD, with Osceola County, who is working under a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant to investigate new ways to control hydrilla in the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes.

Since the late 1980s, the herbicide Sonar has been the primary tool for controlling hydrilla, which if left unchecked would destroy fish and wildlife habitat, compromise flood protection and limit access to the lakes by clogging boat motors. Over the years, hydrilla became resistant to Sonar. Research and small-lake treatments, however, appear to show that Galleon may be as affective as Sonar once was, providing aquatic plant specialists with an important new tool, the release said. Full Article

Cornell, Lake Association Cooperate To Clean Chautauqua Lake, New York

By Jessica Wasmund

In an effort to combat the Eurasian water milfoil, an invasive species that is abundant throughout Chautauqua Lake, representatives from Cornell University and Chautauqua Lake Association are combining forces to fight against further invasion. The CLA has an ongoing six-year contract with the university to continue studying the lake and trying to cut down on the population of the Eurasian water milfoil.

‘‘Every summer the CLA has been very visible on the lake with our machines doing what we do best — assisting the lakefront owners with shoreline cleanup and harvesting weeds to remove them from the lake,’’ said Paul Swanson, CLA general manager. Through numerous dives into the lake, Cornell research ponds manager Robert Johnson has discovered what is happening along the bottom of the lake. Johnson selected test plots for both the upper and lower basins of the lake, and officials from both organizations are hopeful the information he has documented will help provide answers on how to restore the lake to pre-Eurasian water milfoil conditions. ‘‘Cornell provides support to Chautauqua Lake through our contract with the CLA to record yearly changes in aquatic plant growth,’’ Johnson said. ‘‘This natural biological control offers some help in limiting excessive weed growth.’’

As research crews skimmed across the lake, they used a method known as ‘‘rake-tossing’’ to pinch off the top 25 centimeters of each weed stem. The samples were then put into separate bags and frozen. Johnson then dissected each stem to evaulate the same, looking for numbers and types of herbivores found. To better understand the year-to-year changes in plant and insect herbivore abundance in Chautauqua Lake, Johnson then examines the reports by comparing yearly estimates of weevil populations since 2002. Understanding this changeability in plant and herbivore populations from year to year may aid in the overall plant management for the lake, Johnson explained. Since the study first began, there has been a large variation in Johnson’s year-to-year studies, which makes it difficult to predict populations from one year to the next. Full Article

New York Community Fights Invasive Pond Scum

A $40,148 Aquatic Invasive Species grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will help the City of Newburgh Water Department continue to battle an unwelcome visitor to Brown’s Pond, the city’s secondary water source, in an ecologically sensitive manner. Sterile triploid grass carp will be introduced into the pond, (also known as Silver Stream Reservoir), to combat around 110 acres of curlyleaf pondweed infestation. Link


County opposes use of herbicide to treat Glenmere Lake, Florida

By Matt King
Times Herald-Record

FLORIDA — The Orange County Water Authority has joined environmentalists in opposing a plan to treat Glenmere Lake with herbicide, but village officials say they'll proceed as planned.
"If we don't get funding from the county, we're still going to look to go ahead," Mayor Jim Pawliczek said, adding that he'll ask the towns of Warwick and Chester, which border the lake, for money.

Treating the lake to kill the invasive Eurasian watermilfoil is controversial because the lake is the drinking water supply for Florida and the Orange County Jail.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has agreed to help pay for the operation if Florida can raise half of the $96,000 cost. Full Article


Donated Venison Sets Virginia Record

By Hannah Northey,

Virginia deer hunters - and the food banks that receive much of the meat they donate - saw record amounts of venison last year, officials say. And, they add, local food banks may set records again this year.

Statewide, Hunters for the Hungry, a wild game donation program, processed and distributed more than 363,000 pounds of deer meat to families and individuals living in poverty in 2007. Locally, the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank Network based in Verona received 5,000 pounds last year, an increase of 2,650 pounds from 2006, said Ruth Jones, the bank's public relations officer. Mercy House, a homeless shelter in Harrisonburg that helps families with young children, also received donations of meat, but officials there could not be reached for comment.

The increase in donations is a result of larger deer populations across the state, combined with hunters' growing awareness of Hunters for the Hungry, said Laura Newell-Furniss, director of the program. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has not yet released the number of deer killed by hunters in 2007 and 2008.

"Every year [Hunters for the Hungry has] grown," Newell-Furniss said. "There were a lot of deer taken, we're a growing program and more people hear about us and get involved in it." Since the program began in 1991, hunters have donated more than three million pounds of venison, Newell-Furniss said. Full Article


New York State DEC Enters Into Agreement With Hess Over Violations: Penalty Includes $300,000 to Help Restore the Hudson River

Hess Corporation will bring 65 gasoline stations and oil storage facilities into compliance with state requirements and fund an important habitat restoration project in the Hudson River Estuary under an agreement announced today by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis. The consent order also requires a penalty of $1.1 million for storage violations at the facilities, a portion of which will be deposited into DEC's marine resources account, which helps support activities related to the improvement and protection of New York's marine ecosystems.

The order includes $300,000 to be administered by The Nature Conservancy as part of an Environmental Benefit Project (EBP) agreed to by Hess and DEC. The EBP will focus on the restoration and management of rare freshwater tidal wetlands in the Hudson River Estuary.

During a three-year project, The Nature Conservancy will select restoration sites in freshwater tidal wetland sections of the estuary that have been impacted by invasive plants. Biologists will develop invasive species removal plans and monitor the anticipated improvements to the ecosystem. Public and private property owners along the river will also be approached to implement management strategies that will help ensure the continued success of the project. Full Article


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