Monday, June 2, 2008

Week of June 1, 2008

Customized boats are a new weapon in the war on aquatic invaders

By DAVID BROOKS, Nashua Telegraph Staff

Nashua, New Hampshire - One of the reasons aquatic weeds are so hard to fight is that that by the time you see them, it's too late.

Right now, for example, most local ponds and rivers invested with milfoil, fanwort and water chestnut – the worst invasive aquatic weeds around here – look pretty good. The plants, which can overwinter in the mud under as much as 12 to 15 feet of water, are still sending sprouts upward. When they break the surface, they'll create the leaves and flowers that choke off light and oxygen below, but by the time it gets noticeable, they'll already have bulked out for the season.

So the idea is to tackle the plants when they're still submerged. But how can you find them?

"We have 800 water bodies, and nobody has the ability to see under the surface. That's a pretty severe restriction," said Ed Neister, a physicist who has been involved with the fight against invasives on Suncook Lake for years. Under contract with the state, Neister is building two "underwater survey vehicles" – boats (one 16-footer and one 18-footer) that have special cameras and lights underwater and Global Positional Satellites and computerized mapping software onboard.

The cameras see what's living on the lakebed, the boat operator marks it on a map – and voila, you've found targets for divers or herbicide.

"You mark the map, download it, make a DVD, supply it to lake associations and towns and say, 'That's where your milfoil is. You guys work with your treatment company to make sure the treatment happens in these areas,' " Neister said.

Neister became convinced of the need for such accurate mapping after past herbicide applications in Suncook Lake. Searches by divers, including some pulled by boats, indicated that all plants were gone, but milfoil returned with a vengeance two years later.

"We weren't sure whether we had missed these plants or whether they just popped up in spring of 2007," Neister said. "It came down to the realization: We've got to improve our ability to scan lakes, before and after treatment, so we don't miss plants. This makes it easy and almost fun to do."

"People thought they could throw herbicide in the lake and that would kill it – that's far from the truth, we've found with Suncook Lake. You have to find where the plants are, treat where the plants are, then go back and look to make sure you got them."

Neister knows creating good underwater lighting is tougher than it seems. He did underwater work for the Navy and has long experience using lasers to illuminate deep-sea pictures. The hardest part with this project is reducing the light-scattering effect of material floating in turbid New Hampshire lakes. The lights will be on movable "arms" descending from the bow to ensure their angle and distance from the camera. He expects to have at least one boat in the water this summer for testing, and if all goes well, weed-fighting groups should be lining up to reserve its use next year.

"If we don't attack it, it's going to take us out – we're going to lose our waterways, we're going to use our lakes," he said. "Suncook River was so bad last year that if the plants could support you, you could walk across it." Article

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Corps may battle weeds in Black Lake, New York

By Corey Fram & Marc Heller, Watertown Daily Times

MORRISTOWN, NY — Anglers, businesses and elected officials wrestling with dense weeds on Black Lake have landed a big backer.

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., called Thursday on the Army Corps of Engineers to visit Black Lake and develop a plan to eradicate Eurasian milfoil, a dense invasive weed making navigation difficult.

"This plague of invasive weeds in Black Lake is devastating to boaters, anglers, homeowners and our tourism industry across St. Lawrence County, and it must be destroyed before further damage is done," Mr. Schumer said in a prepared statement.

"The summer season just kicked off and we must do everything we can to encourage fishing and boating in our lakes and rivers. The Army Corps, which has the resources and expertise, needs to investigate and eliminate these invasive weeds in Black Lake before it's too late."

The senator's intervention comes a week after the Black Lake Invasive Weeds Committee agreed to hire a New Jersey environmental consultant to develop a management plan that will be forwarded to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The state has set aside $5 million to deal with invasive species.

The study is expected to be submitted by late June. The town of Oswegatchie is fronting the money and the committee is looking for funds to cover the approximately $6,500 cost, Mr. Nichols said.

Control has proven elusive. Traditional methods, often repeated every year, can cost up to $2,000 an acre and take native plants with them, according to the University of Minnesota. That's bad because healthy native plant populations can prevent milfoil's spread.

Researchers are studying biological controls, including weevils that eat Eurasian milfoil. Some experiments have worked well but others have not, the University of Minnesota reported. The property association at Sylvia Lake, also in St. Lawrence County, has succeeded in controlling it through "hand harvest," but the spread there was not as extensive as in Black Lake. Article

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Pulling perennial pepperweed in Massachusetts

By Jennifer Forman Orth, Massachusetts Introduced Pests Outreach Project

On Saturday June 7th, from 1-4pm, the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge will host an information and training session on the identification and control of perennial pepperweed (Lepidium latifolium). The training will be in Newburyport, MA at PRNWF Headquarters (6 Plum Island Turnpike).

The first hour will be spent indoors learning about pepperweed and control techniques, then participants are invited to gain hands-on experience by pulling Pepperweed at a site along the Plum Island Turnpike.

This meeting is open to the public with no obligation to volunteer.

Perennial pepperweed is an invasive plant that occurs in wetland habitats along coastal areas of Massachusetts, including salt marshes, and is also found along roadsides. In the western part of the USA, it is a major agricultural weed. It can be spread through soil or water movement, or as a contaminant in hay bales.

Throughout the summer, Parker River NWR and the Massachusetts Audubon society will be leading pepperweed pulls at sites throughout Essex County. The goal is to control or eradicate pepperweed before it becomes as pervasive as other wetland invasives, like phragmites or purple loosestrife. If you are interested in volunteering for this project but cannot make the June 7th training session, you can contact Sarah Janson (sarah_janson@fws.gov). Article

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Help Protect Adirondack Waters from Invasive Species

Get on-board with the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program's 7th annual aquatic invasive plant training and learn aquatic plant identification tips and survey techniques.

The training is free, but space is limited. Select a training location that best suits you. Please RSVP to Hilary Oles at holes @ tnc.org (delete spaces) by June 13.

All sessions are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

June 20, Darrin Fresh Water Institute, Bolton Landing;
June 24, Harrietstown Town Hall, Saranac Lake;
June 26, Old Forge Fire Hall, Old Forge

Volunteers are asked to conduct an annual survey on an Adirondack lake of their choice. To-date, 307 aquatic enthusiasts have spent over 3,000 hours surveying 205 Adirondack waterways. From the Fulton Chain to Lake Champlain - volunteer efforts are making a difference!

Are you a returning volunteer? Feel free to join us for a half day or full day refresher course. Or pass this along and invite someone new!

See you on the water~

Thank you!

Hilary Oles
Coordinator
Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program
The Nature Conservancy - Adirondack Chapter

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Emamectin benzoate pesticide now registered for use in treating ash trees for emerald ash borer (EAB)

Emamectin benzoate is the name of a new insecticide that can be used to protect valuable landscape ash trees from EAB in Michigan. A special 24(c) registration request for this product has been approved in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and West Virginia. These are the only states that have permission to use the product in ash trees to control EAB at this time. The product will be sold as Tree-├Ąge™ (pronounced "triage") and should be available for use this spring. Article

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NY bans shipping firewood in effort to stop harmful insects

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ Conservation officials have banned hauling, importing or selling untreated firewood in New York in an effort to stop the spread of tree-killing insects. The Department of Environmental Conservation said Wednesday the emergency regulations are effective immediately for 90 days. They prohibit importing out-of-state firewood unless treated to eliminate invasive insect species, fungi and pathogens. Transporting any untreated firewood within the state is limited to less than 50 miles.

The Sirex woodwasp, native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa, kills pines and sometimes other conifers by introducing a toxic mucus and fungus when the female lays her eggs through the bark and into the sapwood. It has been found in 28 counties in the state, DEC spokesman Yancey Roy said.

The Emerald Ash Borer, native to China, has destroyed an estimated 20 million ash trees nationally since the beetle was noticed in Michigan five years ago and has been found as far east as Pennsylvania.

The Asian Longhorned Beetle, which appeared in the New York metropolitan area in 1996, has larvae that bore into trees and feed on healthy wood until emerging as adult beetles to eat twigs and leaves. Some 17 species of hardwoods are vulnerable, including four varieties of maples, elm, birch, poplar, willow, ash and sycamore. It has been found in Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island and Nassau County. Article

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