Monday, May 5, 2008

Week of May 4, 2008

Grants will help us keep invasive milfoil in check in Maine

Bob Moore gets it. Moore's the head of one of the more effective lake protection organizations in the state, the Friends of Cobbossee Watershed. And when it comes to dealing with the highly destructive invasive aquatic plant milfoil, Moore says, "there's really no success stories."

No, there aren't. Until recently, Maine was the last of the lower 48 states to find its waters infested with milfoil, which comes in a number of varieties. Milfoil's a plant whose rampant and aggressive green growth can choke a lake, making it impossible to boat, swim or fish.

Over the last few years, the state has undertaken a concerted effort to keep the invasive weed out of its lakes and streams, but it has been a losing battle. By last year, 26 lakes and streams were found with the nasty stuff beginning its deadly march.

And as Moore so bluntly puts it, you can nuke the stuff with chemicals, you can pull it out, you can cut it, you can send divers in after it -- but you really can't get rid of it. All you can do is check its progress. Which is why it's such good news that the state has found a way this year to triple the amount of money it gives in grants to municipalities and organizations to fight invasive aquatic plants.

With the financial help of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has just announced $60,000 in matching grants to local groups and towns and cities statewide, including Moore's group as well as groups from Messalonskee Lake in Oakland to Mousam Lake in southern Maine to Branch Lake in the Downeast region near Ellsworth.

Moore and his lake-loving colleagues across the state may not be able to ever eradicate the plant from our waters; it's too late for that. But here's hoping that the milfoil-busters are at least able to limit the plant's spread -- and keep Maine's lakes the way they should be. Article


Amityville, New York lab at front in war on Asian beetles

By Jennifer Smith

Long Island, New York trees still fall victim to the Asian long-horned beetle, the invasive insect that during the past 12 years has gnawed through more than 6,000 maples, elms and other hardwoods in New YorkState. But inside the Amityville war room for New York's beetle battle, researchers say the tide appears to be turning.

For the first time since the black and white bugs were initially detected on a Brooklyn maple in 1996, no live beetles of reproductive age were captured or even seen in New York in 2007. And in April the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the insects were eradicated from Illinois and from New Jersey's Hudson County. The progress follows concerted efforts to survey trees for signs of infestation and, in some cases, treatment of at-risk trees with insecticide to kill the wood-boring beetles.

"We're cutting down fewer and fewer trees each year," said Joe Gittleman, project director for the USDA's Asian long-horned beetle eradication program in New York. "The populations are significantly on the decline."

Some of that progress can be attributed to research done here in the USDA's office on Merrick Road, where scientists analyze felled trees for clues to how, and where, the Asian long-horned beetles spread.

The most recent new detection was in Massapequa, where trees showing signs of infestation were chopped down last year. All told, Long Island has about 30 square miles in quarantine - 23 in and around Amityville and seven in Islip. Full Article


Corrective Action To Be Studied For Canaan Lake on Long Island

By Barbara LaMonica, Suffolk Life

The scenic waterfront vista from Jeanne Overton Wilkinson's family home on Canaan Lake in North Patchogue boasts the serenity of a diverse wildlife population, but an influx of unwelcome, invasive species has become increasingly predominant during the warmer months, peaking in August. The wild growth of such species as the cabomba and milfoil weeds over the last two decades is choking the lake and impacting activities that were once central to the community's recreational pursuits. The public beach, docks, boardwalk, snack bar, and open area where parents would take their children to feed the ducks are gone.

Various sources may be blamed for contributing to the decline. The now capped, town-owned Holtsville Landfill, which has been transformed into the Brookhaven Ecology Center, was the source of a leachate plume that fed into Canaan Lake. Add to that septic systems, runoff from roadways and lawn fertilizers, and there exists a recipe for disaster.

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services has initiated steps to address the issues at Canaan Lake. Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy introduced a resolution late last year for the appropriation of $250,000 for the study and weed removal process of Canaan Lake and the Upper and Lower lakes in Yaphank. "We have an RFP [Request for Proposal] to have a consultant conduct a water quality study, and to eventually determine the best method in this case for weed removal," explained Dan Aug, a spokesman for Levy.

Martin Trent, chief of the Division of Environmental Quality's Office of Ecology, acknowledged that residents living on and around the lake have contacted his office with concerns. "We took a look at the situation and saw that it was similar to what has been happening in Yaphank with the cabomba weed and milfoil that are choking the lake," Trent said. "We put together a Water Quality Protection Program for Suffolk County to consider and determine the best method, and we are looking into what might be the best corrective application to remove the weeds, which could be the use of herbicides, mechanical harvesting, hand picking," Trent explained.

Trent explained that the Legislature's $250,000 appropriation includes a $200,000 allocation earmarked for the study, and $50,000 for actual implementation of concrete recommendations that will be derived from the study. "One possible scenario is that Canaan Lake is a less complicated ecosystem than the Upper and Lower lakes, so weed removal could be done at Canaan Lake first," Trent said. "But that is only one possible scenario."

John Turner, Brookhaven Town's director of the Division of Environmental Protection, said the town is mindful of the situation. "We are aware of the issue, and any part we could play we will do," Turner said.

But what is occurring in Canaan Lake is not unique to that area. "They are in good company because there are many water bodies throughout Long Island that are plagued by excessive aquatic invasive species," Turner said. "We are going to make a concerted effort, but we need money to do invasive control work in these areas and, given the nature of the problem, the town has only limited resources and is using limited staff. We don't have the luxury to deal with all of the water bodies."

Turner says the causes plaguing Canaan Lake are twofold and are due, in part, to excessive nitrogen from sanitary and septic systems and lawn fertilizers, which "fuels excessive plant growth in streams, lakes and ponds." This, Turner said, coupled with "excessive development around these water bodies," has sparked the rising tide of aquatic weed growth.

Meanwhile, Brookhaven Town Fifth District Councilman Tim Mazzei said he will be looking to work with residents in any way he can to help address the issue with whatever resources the town may have. In projecting a timeline to launch the study of Canaan Lake in North Patchogue, and the Upper and Lower lakes in Yaphank, Trent said the county's intent is for the study to commence during the coming summer season, with "implementation of concrete recommendations" to begin in 2009. "

The final RFP has been drafted and will take a couple of weeks to go out," Trent said, before the county selects a vendor to conduct the study. Full Article


Princeton invasive plant maps for Southeast now available

The Princeton Invasive Mapping Program has recently completed percent cover maps for privet, kudzu, and cogon grass across the Southeast. The maps are based on data contributed by many invasive plant experts from around the Southeast. You can download these maps and all associated data at


Here's a link to US Fish and Wildlife Service's new invasive species website:


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