Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Week of March 16, 2008

Updated March 20

NY fruit growers uncertain about season that includes plum pox virus


APPLETON, N.Y. (AP) - ... A looming challenge for growers is the spring start of testing for plum pox virus and the serious measures in place to stop the invasive species from spreading.

The virus, spread by tiny aphids to peach, nectarine, apricot and plum trees, was detected for the first time in the United States in 1999, in Pennsylvania, and has been found in Canada since 2000. It was found in two locations in Niagara County in 2006 and five more places, in Niagara County and neighboring Orleans County, in 2007. No one knows what 2008 will bring.

Once plum pox virus is found in a tree, growers have to rip out all susceptible trees within a roughly 150-foot radius and are barred from planting new trees in a 1 1/2-mile radius. The restrictions must stay in place for at least three years.

Six growers, including Bittner, have had to destroy some 26 acres of trees, said Robert Mungari of the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

A compensation program reimburses growers for lost trees but provides no relief for neighboring farms in the no-plant zone. So far, between $750,000 and $800,000 has been paid out, with about $259,000 coming from the state and the rest from the federal government, Mungari said.

Though it poses no threat to humans, plum pox virus shortens the life expectancy and productivity of trees, Mungari said, "and more importantly, it was a disease we didn't have here in North America, so it's an actionable pest by federal and state standards."

In the coming weeks, state inspectors will collect leaves from thousands of commercial trees across the state to be analyzed. The United States Department of Agriculture, meanwhile, will conduct its own survey of backyard fruit trees on homeowners' property.

In Pennsylvania, after a concerted eradication effort, there were no positive findings in 2007, authorities said. Canada, however, reported about 261 detections in Ontario, leading to increased sampling and the removal of higher numbers of trees across the border. Full Article


Funds Earmarked in New York to Battle Terrestrial Invasive Species

ALBANY, NY (03/18/2008) (readMedia) -- Ten municipalities and organizations will receive a total of $555,000 to help wipe out infestations of non-native terrestrial species across the state, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today.

The Terrestrial Invasive Species Eradication grants will be used by recipients to help fight giant hogweed, mile-a-minute weed, pale swallow-wort and other invasive threats to New York’s ecosystems.

For the terrestrial invasive species grants, DEC received applications seeking almost $1 million. A competitive evaluation process ranked and prioritized the proposals for the $555,000 in available funds. The projects selected were viewed to have the best potential for achieving long-term reductions in the presence of invasive species.

The grant proposals selected for funding include:

Bronx County: New York Botanical Gardens - $100,000: to eradicate Armur corktree, Amur honeysuckle, Japanese honeysuckle and porcelain-berry from the New York Botanical Gardens.

Various counties: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (Division of Lands and Forests) - $99,750: to eradicate common reed, Japanese knotweed, mile-a-minute weed and pale swallow-wort from 26 state forests across the state.

Delaware, Greene and Ulster counties: Eastern New York Chapter of The Nature Convancy - $50,330: to eradicate black swallow-wort, bush honeysuckle, giant hogweed and mile-a-minute-weed from areas in the Catskills.

Nassau County: Nassau County Parks - $45,350: to eradicate mile-a-minute-weed from Garvies Point Preserve.

Putman County: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (Division of Fish and Wildlife) - $8,000: to eradicate autumn olive, bush honey suckle, mile-a-minute weed and multi-flora rose from Cranberry Mountain Wildlife Management Area.

Jefferson County: Central & Western New York Chapter of The Nature Conservancy - $7,519: to eradicate buckthorn, bush honeysuckle, garlic mustard and pale swallow-wort from Chamount Barrens Preserve.

Bronx County: New York City Parks (Manhatten) - $15,000: to eradicate mile-a-minute weed from Pelham Bay Park.

Ulster County: New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation - $100,000: to eradicate common reed, Japanese barberry, Japanese knotweed, Japanese stiltgrass, leafy spurge, multiflora rose and spotted knapweed from Minnewaska State Park.

Jefferson County: Town Of Cape Vincent - $30,000: to eradicate giant hogweed and pale swallow-wort from several sites in the Town of Cape Vincent.

Suffolk County: Long Island New York Chapter of The Nature Conservancy - $100,000: to eradicate autumn olive, black locust, garlic mustard, Japanese barberry, Japanese honeysuckle, Japanese knotweed, oriental bittersweet and Tree of Heaven from Cedar Point County Park.

The invasive species eradication grant program is among the first of many initiatives of the new Invasive Species Council. The Council’s first role will be to spearhead the attack on invasive species statewide by implementing the recommendations of the Invasive Species Task Force ( www.dec.ny.gov/animals/6989.html ), which include organizing and funding regional partnerships for invasive species management, creating an invasive species research center, developing an invasive species database, and establishing an education and outreach program.

Grant awardees will still need to obtain any necessary State or Federal permits and complete review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA), if required, in order to obtain reimbursement. For additional information, please call the DEC at (518) 402-9425 or visit the DEC’s Terrestrial Invasive Species Eradication Grant Program web page at: www.dec.ny.gov/animals/32861.html Full Article


Controlling the violet tunicate in Canada

The Botrylloides Violaceus, or violet tunicate, was discovered in Belleoram in September 2007 and it can be very costly to aquaculture projects in the area, especially mussel operations. Although the violet tunicate population has grown since its discovery, the species is localized to a very small section of the harbour. Officials from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and officials with the Ocean Sciences Centre (OSC) at Memorial University were in Belleoram during March 10 to 14 to try and control the spread of the species' population.

Philip Sargent, an employee with the OSC, was in the community on Monday, March 10 to help begin the operation to control the violet tunicate population in the harbour. "We will be trying to stamp out the violet tunicate before it spreads around the harbour and to other areas of Fortune Bay," said Mr. Sargent. He notes that the species is located on the hulls of vessels, on wharf pilings and on rocks on the bottom of the harbour.

The MUN crew will be using techniques similar to those used in New Zealand and other countries to help eradicate the violet tunicate. "We will wrap the hulls of infected vessels with a type of wrap and pump in fresh water. The water should turn to slush and kill what's growing on the boats," said Mr. Sargent. "We will place pallet wrap around the wharf pilings to choke out the organisms and we will physically remove smaller rocks from the harbour." He noted that the work crew is aiming at a success rate of 90 per cent and that officials will come back in the summer to check the situation again.

According to Dr. Deibel, the violet tunicate discovered in Belleoram may have originated in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. The species has been found in other areas of the Eastern Atlantic Seaboard such as the Cape Hatteras area, Chesapeake Bay, North Carolina and may be moving up the eastern seaboard due to a slight drop in water temperatures. Belleoram is the only area in Newfoundland and Labrador know to have a population of the violet tunicate. Full Article


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