Monday, July 28, 2008

Week of July 27, 2008

Updated July 31

VIDEO: Meet the Beetles

By Jeff Mucciarone, Canton Journal/Patriot Ledger

Canton, MA - Clouds of beetles swarmed over a wetland meadow at Brookwood Community Farm last Thursday.

The tiny, winged creatures latched onto clusters of plants and began to munch away on the plants’ leaves. In some spots, the beetles nearly covered the purple flowers adorning the tops of the thickly spread greenery.

The beetles were taking over—and that’s exactly what the Neponset River Watershed Association is hoping for.

Purple loosestrife is engulfing big sections of the Neponset River watershed. But the Canton-based watershed association, the state Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Wetlands Restoration Program are fighting back—with beetles.

For the second time this summer, officials and volunteers released thousands of Galerucella beetles, which exclusively eat purple loosestrife.

Eliminating purple loosestrife is part of the state department of conservation and recreation’s statewide program to restore wetlands. For five years, officials and volunteers will release beetles and monitor sites in the Neponset River watershed to control and hopefully eradicate purple loosestrife, said watershed association Outreach Director and Restoration Manager Carly Rocklen.

As they fly up from their buckets, some beetles immediately grab onto plants, while others fly a little way before nestling down to feast.

The beetles are mailed from a beetle harvester in New Jersey in buckets. The packages come with an ice pack to keep the beetles cool during the travel, Rocklen said.

Galerucella beetles have been studied since 1986 to make sure releasing them to feed on invasive species isn’t creating further environmental issues. In some studies, the beetles have reduced purple loosestrife by 90 percent, according to the state’s project summary.

Members try to release beetles inside healthier plants. The beetles themselves leave behind holes on the plants’ leaves, but it’s the beetles’ larvae that actually wreak the most damage, Rocklen said. “They really strip the leaf from top to bottom,” Rocklen said of the larvae. “They need purple loosestrife to complete their life cycle.”

During the next year, watershed association staff and members are planning to take the next step and become beetle farmers themselves. To do that, farmers will need to grab a purple loosestrife plant and some netting to keep beetles around the plant.

The association has met some resistance from people who don’t want them to get rid of purple loosestrife because it is so attractive. Rocklen has noticed spots where people have planted purple loosestrife prominently in their yards. In that sense, a lot of the association’s job is to raise awareness, Rocklen said.

For more information about the wetlands restoration program, volunteering or becoming a beetle farmer, contact Carly Rocklen at 781-575-0354 x303 or The watershed association also wants reports of locations of purple loosestrife infestations within the watershed. Full Article and Video

You can also view the video at the bottom of this page.


Workshop in PA on biocontrol of mile-a-minute weed

All are invited to a workshop sponsored by the USDA Forest Service and University of Delaware to be held on August 25, 2008, at Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, PA). Talks and discussion updating current information on biological control of mile-a-minute weed will be presented from 10 AM – noon, followed by a box lunch and field trip to research and release sites. Registration is free, and includes entry into Longwood Gardens, box lunch, and transportation to and from field sites. You must register by August 15, 2008.

Click here for information about the workshop and how to register.


Swallowwort control funding hits snag in northern New York

By Jaegun Lee, Watertown Daily Times

CAPE VINCENT, NY — Pale swallowwort is infesting Grenadier Island again this summer, but action is held up because of changes in regulations.

The Watertown office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service developed a 10-year, $90,000 Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) to spray and control the rapidly spreading weed on the island.

For five years, four people who own 900 acres of grassland have received funding from the agency to control the weed.

But their work came to a halt this year when Wyatt Uhlein, one of the landowners, was notified that the use of 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, a popular herbicide used to kill the plant, does not meet the NRCS guidelines for controlling invasive species.

"We have been using 2,4-D successfully for the past five years," Mr. Uhlein said.

He was told that he must use either RoundUp or Garlon 4, another brand of herbicide, to receive funding.

"NRCS has no desire to cancel the WHIP contract with Mr. Uhlein," said John Groveman, a spokesman for the Conservation Service.

He said that the NRCS has no intention of pulling the plug on the treatment program and that it is willing to resume work if Mr. Uhlein follows the regulations set by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Full Article


New York State DEC takes aggressive action to halt northern snakehead in Catlin Creek

ALBANY, NY (07/29/2008; 1648)(readMedia)-- Implementing an aggressive protocol for responding to invasive species, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), plans to treat Ridgebury Lake and Catlin Creek above County Route 6 in Waywayanda (Orange County) with an aquatic pesticide in August. The DEC action is designed to eradicate an invasive fish called the Northern Snakehead, and to protect clean water and restore a healthy and productive fishery and natural community.

"All of us at DEC realize those who live at or near the site of this invasion will sustain some losses, including a temporary loss of the fish population and the temporary disruption of the peaceful atmosphere of the lakefront during the restoration activities. We appreciate the patience and cooperation of local residents and town officials," DEC Regional Director Willie Janeway said.

Special temporary emergency rules regarding the use of an aquatic pesticide, with Rotenone as the active ingredient, were enacted by DEC specifically to take action against the Northern Snakehead. DEC notified shoreline landowners of a proposed action plan in July. This week, landowners are being sent additional information including details on several changes made to the eradication plan based in part on public input received since then.

DEC is making a commitment to restocking and restoring the impacted waters. "Specifically, DEC will selectively remove and hold some fish - other than Northern Snakeheads -- collected from Ridgebury Lake prior to treatment and return them shortly after treatment, when the water is safe for the fish. The reintroduction of these fish will help accelerate natural restoration processes," Director Janeway said. DEC will also provide the technical support needed to develop and monitor the restoration of this fishery and will support additional restocking as determined necessary by a cooperative effort between the community and the Department.

The DEC verified the presence of the Northern Snakehead (Channa argus) in these waters late in May 2008. The Department determined that swift action to eradicate this invasive species and prevent any possible expansion beyond the headwaters of Catlin Creek is essential to protect native fish populations, natural communities and multiple clean water bodies including the Wallkill and Hudson Rivers. A species native to Asia, the Northern Snakehead is an aggressive predator fish that has the potential to prey on and compete with native fishes throughout New York State.

In an effort to prevent further spread of this invasive species, DEC now plans to treat the infested waters of Ridgebury Lake and Catlin Creek above the County Route 6 crossing, including DEC mapped Wetland MD-26, with the aquatic pesticide CFT Legumine. The original proposal was to use Prenfish, but after receiving several comments from the public about the odor associated with this product and researching alternatives, DEC chose an Legumine. This pesticide has little or no odor and has fewer undesirable inert ingredients while still being an effective eradication tool. The active ingredient, Rotenone, the same used in Prenfish, is an extract from several different tropical plants and breaks down rapidly after application with no lasting toxicity. To minimize potential impacts to human health, the proposed application will be undertaken by DEC staff trained and certified as aquatic pesticide applicators and certain restrictions will apply to public use of the waters during treatment and for 30 days afterwards. Article


Government agencies and boaters prepare to combat Great Lakes invaders

Chicago (July 29, 2008)(EPA) -- Over 30 representatives of local, state and federal government agencies and community groups will test their readiness to respond to aquatic invaders in the Great Lakes in a three day exercise in Presque Isle Bay, Pa., starting July 29. Participants will exercise on the water on July 30. This is the first time that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes National Program Office has brought together a variety of groups in such an exercise. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is hosting the pilot exercise which may be repeated elsewhere in the Great Lakes and other watersheds.

Invasive species can cause great ecological and economic harm to the Great Lakes basin. Over 180 nonnative aquatic species, such as the zebra mussel and round goby, have been documented in the Great Lakes. They are introduced and spread through a variety of means, including by boaters and anglers visiting infested waterways. Recreational boaters and anglers play a critical role in preventing the spread of invasives by cleaning, draining and drying their boats each time they leave a body of water.

"These organisms prey upon or directly compete with our native species for the same limited resources, threatening the biological heritage that we share as Pennsylvanians," said Lori Boughton, DEP Chief of the Office of the Great Lakes. "While preventing new introductions is the single most important thing that can be done to combat aquatic invasive species, it also is important to quickly detect and respond to new infestations. This week we are improving our preparedness - testing the abilities of multiple jurisdictions to communicate and respond in a coordinated fashion."

During the exercise, participants will trawl for fish and practice using fish electroshocking equipment to prepare for a real-life situation where these techniques could be used to confirm the presence of an invasive species. By working together in an exercise, agencies will learn ways they can combine assets and overcome jurisdictional barriers to respond quickly to the introduction of harmful aquatic species.More information about invasive aquatic species in the Great Lakes is available at


President Bush Signs the Clean Boating Act of 2008

On Tuesday, July 29, 2008, the President signed into law: The Clean Boating Act of 2008, which exempts certain discharges incidental to the normal operation of a recreational vessel from regulation under the Clean Water Act.


Christmas tree pests target of new project in Pa.

( - University Park, Pa. -- A new Penn State research project is helping six Pennsylvania Christmas tree growers keep invasive pests at bay while reducing pesticide use.

Under the direction of Cathy Thomas, Pennsylvania Integrated Pest Management ( IPM ) coordinator, the project will focus on scale pests from Asia such as Elongate hemlock scale and Cryptomeria scale that cause a lot of damage to hemlock and fir trees. "Scale pests attack Fraser, canaan and balsam firs, all of which are important Christmas tree varieties in Pennsylvania," said Thomas.

The scales are difficult to control with pesticides because they have two generations each year and adults having a waxy, armored-like covering. In addition, many of the pesticides used to control scales and other insect pests are broad-spectrum and also kill natural predators of the scales. Thomas and Sarah Pickel, Pennsylvania IPM program associate, are working with growers to develop better scouting and monitoring techniques, which will allow for fewer applications and substitution of safer chemicals.

Scouting, monitoring and the substitution of safer chemicals are all part of an integrated pest management program. IPM aims to manage pests -- such as insects, diseases, weeds and animals -- by combining physical, biological and chemical tactics that are safe, profitable and environmentally compatible.

The project is being funded by a grant from state Department of Agriculture agricultural research funds. Educational presentations of the data collected will be available for statewide use and additional training programs. The data will also be available on the Pennsylvania IPM Program's ( 800 ) PENN IPM hot line and the Penn State Christmas Tree Web site at For more information on Christmas tree pests, see Pennsylvania IPM's Christmas Tree Pest Problem Solver at Questions about the project can be directed to Thomas by calling ( 717 ) 772-5204 or by e-mail at

The Pennsylvania IPM program is a collaboration between the Penn State University and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture aimed at promoting integrated pest management in both agricultural and urban settings. For information, contact the program at ( 814 ) 865-2839, or Web site


Monday, July 21, 2008

Week of July 20, 2008

Updated July 24


Live Chinese Mitten Crabs (Eriocheir sinensis) have been found in Chesapeake Bay (2005-2007), Delaware Bay (2007), Hudson River (2007-2008), and most recently in New Jersey (2008). To date, there have been 19 crabs documented and confirmed in the eastern United States, including four states, all in the past four years.

In New Jersey, mitten crabs were found in Toms River (June 1, 2008) and Raritan Bay (June 17, 2008). The Toms River crab is the first confirmed record in the state of New Jersey. The male crab, measuring 50mm, was found crawling on a crab holding pen (peeler pot). The second crab caught in New Jersey was collected by a commercial waterman in the Raritan Bay near Keyport, NJ on June 17, 2008; it has been identified through pictures as an adult mitten crab, sex still unconfirmed. This crab apparently was not the waterman’s first catch, as the species was reportedly observed in the same area at least weekly for the three weeks prior to this catch.
Also in 2008, four other mitten crabs were captured in the Hudson River, New York, including one female (20mm on June 3) and three males (16-26mm from June 9 to July 18). All crabs were caught in freshwater near Tivoli, NY, approximately 100 miles inland along the Hudson River by a research scientist, who was studying eel movement on local tributaries. A total of seven mitten crabs have been confirmed for Hudson River to date.

Please Report Any New Sightings.

To determine the status, abundance, and distribution of this species along the eastern U.S., we have established a Mitten Crab Network. The Network began as a partnership among several state, federal, and research organizations, with an initial focus on Chesapeake and Delaware Bays. We have now expanded the Network to include resource managers, commercial fishermen, research organizations, and citizens along the eastern U.S.
Please help by reporting any mitten crabs directly to the Network or to your state resource manager.


• Commonly found in fresh waters of North America, but can occur in saltwater bays and estuaries.

• Claws equal in size with white tips and appear furry (with thick mats of hair-like covering on claws).

• If you find a crab, with a carapace length over one inch and no hair on the claws, it is NOT likely to be a Mitten Crab. NOTE: Juveniles under one inch may not have hair on the claws.

• Carapace up to 4 inches wide; light brown to olive green in color.

• No swimming legs. This crab has eight sharp-tipped walking legs.

If you catch a mitten crab, do not throw it back alive!

• Freeze the animal, keep it on ice, or preserve it in rubbing alcohol as a last resort.

• Note the precise location and date where the animal was found.

• Please take a close-up photo of the animal. Photos can be emailed to for preliminary identification. Include your contact information with the photo.

• If you cannot take a photo, contact the Mitten Crab Hotline (443-482-2222)

For additional information please visit for updated Mitten Crab reports, downloadable pamphlets on the Chinese Mitten Crab Survey Program, and how to distinguish a Mitten Crab from other crabs in the region.


Mile-a-minute vine removal in LaGrange, NY postponed

By John Davis, Poughkeepsie Journal

FREEDOM PLAINS, NY - It appears the LaGrange town government will not attempt to eradicate the invasive mile-a-minute vine until the spring.

This is because it will take at least two months to obtain a necessary state conservation permit to mow or pull out the weed along Jackson Creek. And the spring is the best time to combat the annual by either spraying with a herbicide or mowing the sprouting weeds.

"Mowing is probably the cheapest way to go," said Wendy Wollerton, a horticultural lab technician with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Millbrook.

The LaGrange town government has been trying to deal with mile-a-minute vine since the invasive species was discovered last year in several parts of town, including LaGrange Park on Noxon Road. It is also growing along portions of routes 82 and 55 and on the former farmland behind Blessed Kateri church where a bigger church building is under construction.

"There's really an infestation at the intersection of (routes) 82 and 55. It's all over," said Dutchess County Legislator William McCabe, D-LaGrangeville.

LaGrange Councilman Joseph Luna, a Republican, said the owner of the LaGrange Country Commons shopping plaza at the highway intersection plans to attack the vine with a weed whacker this summer.

The mile-a-minute vine has a sinister reputation for quickly growing and smothering other plants, crops and even trees.

"It can grow up to six inches a day," said Wollerton, who gave a presentation on mile-a-minute vine in LaGrange town hall recently.

The Dutchess County Legislature in June approved spending $59,000 to comb the mile-a-minute vine and other invasive species. Exactly $10,000 of that amount goes to the Town of LaGrange, where the vine is most prevalent. Article and Video


Vermont targets invasive species

By Howard Weiss-Tisman, Brattleboro Reformer

BRATTLEBORO, VT -- The state took its fight against invasive species in Vermont's waterways to the front line this weekend.

The Department of Environmental Conservation held a workshop Sunday to spread the word about the serious threat posed by non-native plants, fish and other organisms in Vermont's streams, rivers and lakes.

The environmental officials were also there to try to get concerned water lovers to commit to joining the Vermont Invasive Patrollers, a volunteer group that keeps a lookout for invasive species and reports them to the environmental conservation department when they are found.

"We have only two people who are working on aquatic invasive species," explained Leslie Matthews, an environmental scientist with DEC who led the workshop Sunday. "We can't be the eyes and ears for the whole state, and we depend on the public to help us."

Matthews showed up at the presentation with bottles of preserved invasive fish and trays of the most dangerous plants.

Vermont has seen a sharp rise in both the number of invasive species and the locations where they are found.

The appearance last year of didymo, or rock snot, which has killed thousands of fish in the Midwest, and the spread of zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil, has driven the state to start the citizen program.

Matthews said the department has been holding meetings all summer like the one held in Brattleboro Sunday.

Almost 40 people have signed on to the program so far, agreeing to monitor a waterway and conduct at least two surveys during the summer for the presence of invasive plants or animals.

Public education is one of the most important first lines of defense, Matthews said, and it is important for boaters and anglers to get into the habit of washing down their equipment to prevent the spread of the plants and organisms. Article


Job opening: Invasive non-native species coordinator

This is a joint position between The Nature Conservancy’s Northwest Florida Program (NWFL) and U. S. Forest Service (USFS) Apalachicola National Forest.

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
· Furthers the Conservancy’s strategic goals
· Removes exotic species and/or monitors removal efforts
· Maintains tools and equipment
· Operates heavy machinery

Potential candidates must submit resume, cover letter and application through The Nature Conservancy website. Please submit resume and cover letter as one document.


Tyler Smith joins APIPP team as aquatics coordinator

The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) welcomes Tyler Smith to the Adirondack Invasive Species Team. Tyler joins Hilary Oles and Steven Flint at the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy in Keene Valley. Tyler will focus on the wet side of invasive species as the Aquatic Invasive Species Project Coordinator.

Funding from the USFWS enabled APIPP to hire Tyler on a short-term basis. He is assisting the implementation of the Adirondack Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan.


Invasive paper wasp population is growing in New York

By Nancy Madsen, Watertown Daily Times

It looks like a yellow jacket and acts like a wasp.

It's a European paper wasp, or Polistes dominulus, an invasive species that is more aggressive than native wasps and is steadily increasing its population in the north country.

"Every year, it's clearly displacing the native species," said Leland K. Russell, a senior technician at All Pest Inc., Adams Center.

He estimated that over the past five years, the invasive wasp species has increased so that it's 50 percent to 60 percent of the paper wasps he sees.

The invasive wasp is the most abundant paper wasp in the Mediterranean region, according to a fact sheet from Penn State University.

It was first discovered in the U.S. in Cambridge, Mass., during the late 1970s. The small wasp, which resembles a yellow jacket, has spread throughout the Northeast to states in the Midwest and West.

Fact sheets from Penn State University, Cornell University and Colorado State University indicated that the invasive is more aggressive, smaller and faster than native species. Like native paper wasps, the queens opt for protected areas, such as under eaves, in attics and in birdhouses.

But Mr. Russell said the European paper wasp is less selective and will build large colonies, even up to 50 nests together.

And unlike the native species, the invasive also reuses nests, which gives the insect a head start on reproduction each year.


New research in Maryland seeks methods to kill alien species

By Tom Pelton,

Scientists at a new research center in Maryland will test strategies to kill invasive species and prevent them from hurting the Chesapeake Bay, according to an announcement scheduled for today.

More than 150 exotic species are now thriving in the bay, often hitchhiking here in the ballast water of ships from Asia and Europe. A few of the most aggressive, like the oyster-killing parasite MSX, have overwhelmed native creatures.

The new Maritime Environmental Resource Center at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science will be based in Solomons in Southern Maryland and receive about $5 million over five years from the state and federal governments.

Scientists plan to test ultraviolet light, filters and chemicals to see how effective they are at destroying exotic larvae and other creatures inadvertently transported in ship ballast tanks. Initial studies have already begun aboard a ship in Baltimore. Article


New Hampshire workshop will help Seacoast landowners combat invasive plants

If you live in New Hampshire's coastal watershed and would like to learn the most effective ways to remove invasive plant species, come to a free, hands-on workshop, "It's Your Choice: Invasive Plant Species Options for Homeowners," on August 2, 2008, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Great Bay Discovery Center, 89 Depot Road in Greenland, N.H. (Rain date is August 9). New Hampshire's coastal watershed spans 42 towns in Strafford and Rockingham counties. Staff of the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (GBNERR), and the U.S. Forest Service are partnering to present the program.

At the workshop, participants will learn how to identify the most common invasive plants and overview both chemical and pesticide-free options for their removal. The session will explain the best removal techniques for conditions specific to your yard, and suggest species that could be planted as an alternative to invasives. It also will provide an overview of potential funding sources and tool loan programs available to support these efforts.

The Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is a cooperative federal-state partnership between the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and the National Oceanice and Atmospheric Administration. Visit


Additional discoveries of didymo in New York State fishing rivers

ALBANY, NY (07/22/2008; 1302)(readMedia)-- The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the presence of the invasive algae didymo (Didymosphenia geminata) in the West Branch of the Delaware River downstream from the Cannonsville Reservoir, indicating that the main stem of the Delaware River is now infested as well.

This is the latest recorded incident of this aquatic nuisance species - also called "rock snot" - in New York State. Didymo has now been verified in the Batten Kill, the East Branch of the Delaware River downstream from the Pepacton Reservoir and the West Branch of the Delaware River downstream Cannonsville Reservoir. The main stem of the Delaware River is now also considered to be infested due to exposure from its East and West Branch tributaries. Currently, didymo is not known to be present in any other New York waterway.

The Delaware tailwaters are one of the premier trout fisheries on the East Coast, and are a popular destination for large numbers of anglers. The discovery of didymo in these waters is particularly troubling given their proximity to other famous trout streams, notably the Beaver Kill and Willowemoc Creek, and the tendency of anglers to fish multiple streams over the course of a day or weekend.

The microscopic algae - an invasive species to New York - can survive for many days in cool, damp conditions. Porous materials such as neoprene waders and felt soles used by wading anglers are prime suspects in the spread of didymo among streams.

Didymo cells can produce large amounts of stalk material that forms thick mats on stream bottoms. The appearance of these mats has been compared to brown shag carpet, fiberglass insulation, or tissue paper (picture can be seen at ). During blooms these mats may completely cover long stretches of stream beds and persist for months. The stalk material produced by didymo is slow to break down and may persist for up to two months following its peak growth.

While didymo does not pose a threat to human health, it can alter stream conditions, choking out many of the organisms that live on the stream bottom, potentially causing a ripple effect up the food chain affecting trout and other fish. Didymo has historically been limited to cold, nutrient-poor, northern waters, but in recent decades has been expanding its range and its tolerance to warmer and more productive streams.

Once introduced to an area, didymo can rapidly spread to nearby streams. Anglers, kayakers, swimmers, canoeists, boaters and jet skiers can all unknowingly spread didymo by transporting the cells on boats, bodies and other gear. There are currently no known methods for controlling or eradicating didymo once it infests a water body.

Anglers, canoeists, kayakers, boaters, or others who witness and suspect the presence of didymo in state waters are advised to contact DEC with the location so that samples can be taken to document and monitor the algae's spread.

DEC continues to urge anglers and other water recreationists to Check, Clean and Dry to prevent the introduction and spread of didymo and other potentially invasive organisms from one water to another:

Check -- Before leaving a river or stream, remove all obvious clumps of algae and look for hidden clumps. Leave them at the affected site. If you find any later, do not wash them down drains; dispose of all material in the trash.

Clean -- Treatment varies depending on what needs to be cleaned. Be sure that the solution completely penetrates thick absorbent items such as felt-soled waders and wading boots.

Non-absorbent items:

Detergent or salt: soak or spray all surfaces for at least one minute in a 5% solution (by volume) of dishwashing detergent or salt (7 ounces of detergent or salt added to water to make one gallon); or

Bleach: soak or spray all surfaces for at least one minute in a 2% solution (by volume) of household bleach (3 ounces of bleach added to water to make one gallon); or

Hot water: soak for at least one minute in very hot water kept above 140 °F (hotter than most tap water) or for at least 20 minutes or in hot water kept above 115 °F (uncomfortable to touch).
Absorbent items require longer soaking times. For example, felt-soled waders require:

Hot water: soak for at least 40 minutes in hot water kept above 115 °F; or

Hot water plus detergent: soak for 30 minutes in hot water kept above 115 °F containing 5% dishwashing detergent.

Dry -- If cleaning is not practical, after the item is completely dry to the touch, wait an additional 48 hours before contact or use in any other waterway. Check thick absorbent items closely to assure that they are dry throughout. Equipment and gear can also be placed in a freezer until all moisture is frozen solid.

NOTE: If cleaning, drying or freezing is not practical, restrict equipment to a single water body. While DEC recommends anglers always take these precautions, it is especially important that any gear used out of state be treated before using in New York waters.


Declaration of exterior quarantine in North Carolina for European wood wasp (Sirex noctilio)

The Commissioner of Agriculture, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) hereby immediately establishes an exterior quarantine for the European Wood Wasp (Sirex noctilio) for the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Vermont, and other states found to be infested with European Wood Wasp. This exterior quarantine is needed to prevent the establishment or potential spread of the European Wood Wasp into North Carolina and other states. Link


Emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) in Fairfax County, Virginia

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) confirmed the identification of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), in Fairfax County, Virginia, on July 9, 2008. This EAB detection is in close proximity to Dulles International Airport. The initial detection was made on July 7, 2008, by an employee from the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDF), who noticed several suspect EAB exit holes. The VDF informed the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) who, in turn, notified APHIS of the suspect EAB find. Link


Judge: EPA must regulate ship water discharge

By Malia Wollan, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An appeals court Wednesday upheld a ruling ordering the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the water discharged from ships as a way to protect local ecosystems from invasive species.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it agreed with the federal judge who in 2005 ruled that the EPA exceeded its authority in exempting certain ship discharges from the pollution control requirements of the 1972 Clean Water Act.

A handful of environmental groups and states sued the EPA to require it to regulate ballast water because of concerns that invasive aquatic species such as mollusks were being pumped into local waters.

Except for sewage, ship discharges are exempt from regulation. Wednesday's court ruling applies to bilge water and non-sewage wastewater from a ships' showers, laundries, galleys and engines.

While the EPA was appealing the judge's decision, it also drafted regulations requiring oceangoing freighters to dump ballast water at least 200 miles from shore and refill their tanks with new seawater to flush and kill invasive freshwater species.

The agency is taking public comments on the regulations, which would take effect Sept. 30.
"We're reviewing the decision to determine next steps," Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA's assistant administrator for water said in a statement. "It's commonsense and good environmental policy not to require millions of boaters and vessel owners to get federal clean water permits."

The ruling comes as efforts to establish a federal standard for cleaning up ballast water have stalled in Congress.

Six states, including New York, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, joined as plaintiffs in the suit. A shipping industry group joined the EPA in fighting the regulations. Article

Comments from New York DEC:

"This is a critical victory that will help protect our waters from invasive species and their damaging impacts to our environment and economy," Commissioner Grannis of the New York State Department of Environemental Conservation (DEC) said. "Today we renew our call for EPA to uphold its responsibility under the law and implement effective controls to address these present and growing threats to our native ecosystems."

While EPA appealed the 2006 decision, DEC began the process of promulgating regulations for ballast water. Last year, DEC provided input to assist in the development of the regulations that would significantly and effectively help prevent ballast water from introducing invasive species to New York's -- and the nation's -- environment. Among the recommendations, Grannis said the EPA should require mandatory flushing of ballast water prior to entering inland waters. More information about DEC's comments can be found at .

EPA announced draft regulations, "General Permits for Discharges Incidental to the Normal Operation of a Vessel," in June 2008. DEC will be submitting extensive comments on the draft by August 1 because they do not go far enough in addressing DEC's recommendations and close the existing ballast water loophole in the Clean Water Act.


Divers in Vermont keep milfiol at bay

By KATHRYN FLAGG, Addison County Independent

SALISBURY — Collin Tompkins was one of the first out of the old Lund boat, springing onto the narrow dock while the 16-foot craft shimmied up alongside its moorings.

He, like the other three young men in the boat, was damp and smiling. It was a game of back and forth for a little while, and the four men, their wetsuits slung down to mid-waist, looked like they’ve done this a hundred times. Someone secured the boat. Another hoisted their dripping scuba equipment into a deep wheelbarrow.

And among the last items unloaded onto the dock, and then piled into the wheelbarrow, were several mesh bags filled with heavy, wet weeds — Eurasian watermilfoil, the invasive species this team of young divers is at work carefully plucking from Lake Dunmore’s lakebed.

Tompkins, 22, Nate Bierschenk, 19, Derek LaRosee, 19, and Will Pitkin, 17, are the specially trained corps of divers that make up the Lake Dunmore/Fern Lake Association (LDFLA) Milfoil Project. They’re charged with keeping the milfoil problem in Lake Dunmore and Fern Lake — Dunmore’s little sister — in check.

But in addition to serving as lake watch guards, these divers also happen to be a friendly gaggle of students — boys happy with a summer job that puts them on the lake, in the water and among good company.

It’s a remarkable team, in large part because Tompkins, Bierschenk, Pitkin and LaRosee — and the “Lake System Monitors” who have staffed the project in previous summers — demonstrate that it is possible to control milfoil in an environmentally friendly way, without chemicals, herbicides or lumbering, expensive mechanical harvesters.

In fact, the project, which got its start in 1994, received an award a few years ago from the Environmental Protection Agency for modeling environmentally friendly practices in milfoil control.

And most troublesome of all, especially for Tompkins and his crew, is the plant’s propensity to fragment — both naturally and because of human disturbance. If even just a one-inch piece of the plant stalk or root breaks off, it can grow into a new plant.

“You want to grab it by the roots,” said Bierschenk. “Underwater, you can actually hear it a lot better — you can hear the roots ripping and tearing.”

They estimated that a plant will fragment on them up to 75 percent of the time — leaving them scrambling underwater to scoop up the remnants.

The monitors start their day with morning surveys. That means peering at the surface of Lake Dunmore or Fern Lake through polarized sunglasses, which eliminate the reflection and function, Tompkins said, “like x-ray for the water.”

Other times, Tompkins said, wielding a bright yellow piece of plastic that resembles a fin, they’ll use the tow board. Wearing a snorkel and mask, one diver will grab hold of the board while the boat tows him behind. Angling the board toward the lake’s floor, he’ll take one deep breath and then swoop down to scan for milfoil weeds.

They drop buoys in areas where they locate milfoil, and then return in the afternoons. Depending on the depth of the weeds — which can grow as deep as 15 to 20 feet — they break out their snorkels or diving equipment and go about the work of hand-plucking the plants.
“We’re not trying to eradicate it,” Bierschenk said — the project is more concerned with simply maintaining the status quo, and the divers are doing their best to keep the problem from spreading.

Last year, the crew — which included now-veterans Tompkins, Pitkin and Bierschenk — pulled 13,000 plants. Compared with what volunteers and early divers dragged from the lake — upwards of 21,000 plants in 1995 — it’s a modest harvest. Article


Monday, July 14, 2008

Week of July 13, 2008

A busy news week...

Walter to lead invasive species effort in Pennsylvania

Ashley Walter, a Purdue University graduate and national standout in invasive species management, has been named Pennsylvania’s new invasive species coordinator, said Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff.

Walter will work closely with the Pennsylvania Invasive Species Council and local, state and federal agencies to develop and implement an effective land and water invasive species management program for the commonwealth. “Invasive species are a major threat to Pennsylvania’s biodiversity and economy, and Ashley Walter is uniquely prepared to address invasive species issues across the commonwealth,” said Wolff.

“With her extensive experience battling invasive species through public outreach and field work, Ashley will be a strong leader in helping to control the movement of invasive species throughout the nation, protecting natural resources, public health and the economy.”

Walter graduated from Purdue University with Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in entomology. While a student, Walter was an invited speaker at the U.S. Agriculture Department Interagency Research Forum on Invasive Species and Entomological Society of America meeting. Full Article


Declines in some butterflies spark concerns in Connecticut

Written by The Ridgefield Press

Butterfly fans took to the fields June 28 and found lots of Lepidoptera — but not as many as in past years.

And there are signs that some major species, including the popular Monarch, are in decline. The popular Monarch is being threatened both in its winter and summer grounds.

The 14th annual Western Connecticut Fourth of July Butterfly Count visited six locations, starting in Ridgefield and continuing through prime butterfly locales in Redding and Bethel searching out butterflies.

Every summer in a 30-day period bracketing the Fourth of July, lepidopterists around North America count butterflies, both individuals and species. The results are tabulated by The North American Butterfly Association, NABA and contribute a comprehensive, scientific picture on the state of the continent’s fauna.

Trends in populations of butterflies are clarified such as the recent dramatic decline in Monarchs. The count was a bit on the early side of the season. A late wet spring also affected results turning up some species still frequenting meadowlands well past their usual flight times.

This year’s local count led by Victor DeMasi carried on for more than six hours and found more than 252 butterflies representing 25 different species.

That might seem a lot, but it was the second lowest total for the event, which has counted as many as 800 butterflies in its banner year and a little more than 200 in the drought period at the millennium.


Monarch butterflies have been of particular concern in recent counts, as numbers have dropped signficantly. A number of causes seem to be pushing their decline in the Northeast and throughout their range.

“There is ample indication that the migratory Monarch butterfly is going extinct and the loss of this king of our fauna will be an aesthetic loss of depressing proportions as well as a sad comment on our stewardship of the environment,” said Mr. DiMasi.

Each winter all Monarch butterflies migrate south of the border where they hibernate in huge colonies on a few acres of forests in central Mexico.

“Despite effort to save those, forest logging continues destroying the protection of the woodland by exposing the over wintering insects to harsh winter weather,” he said. “Recent years have seen massive die offs after winter storms.”

Migrating north Monarchs are thought to be suffering from bioengineered nectar on crops. “Plants that have been bug proofed to poison pests are not discriminating against desirable butterflies,” Mr. DiMasi said.

Black Swallowwort

Locally Monarchs arrive in spring to find Connecticut meadows being overrun by invasive plants that are crowding out the native fauna.

Black Swallowwort is causing problems for Monarchs, which lay their eggs on the milkweed relative, but which is distasteful to the hungry larvae.

“In western Connecticut, Black Swallowwort has proliferated in the last few decades forming pure stands of tangled suffocating mass,” Mr. DiMasi said. “Native milkweeds are being crowded out of open areas. Monarchs are finding less milkweed food plant for their caterpillars and worse yet, the invader is also a member of the milkweed family although not suitable in taste for Monarch larva.”

Monarchs are confused by this plant and erroneously lay eggs on it. The eggs hatch, but the larvae fail to feed successfully on a food plant that was not meant for them.

This count tallied Monarchs in most locations although in modest numbers — “low numbers for a recently common butterfly but indicating that this beauty is holding on at least for now,” Mr. DiMasi said. Full Article


Didymo found in Vermont's Mad River

ELIZABETHTOWN, Jul 12, 2008 (The Press-Republican - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX)

Didymo, an invasive species also known as 'rock snot,' has been found in the Mad River, a waterway that runs through the heart of Vermont.

A freshwater diatom, or microscopic alga, didymo erupts in noxious "blooms" covering rocky river beds with brown, clumpy growths that feel like wet wool, according to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. It is described as looking similar to a sewage spill with wet toilet paper streaming in the waterway.

According to a press statement, Vermont water-quality scientists confirmed the presence of didymo in the Mad River, the first time the invasive freshwater alga has been found within the Lake Champlain Basin.

Vermont scientist Dr. Leslie Matthews said a citizen spotted the didymo and provided a sample for testing.

Matthews said her investigation found didymo has spread in the Mad River in an area between Riverwatch Lane and just upstream of the bridge leading into Warren Village.

"Didymo is extensively coating the rocks with 75 to 100 percent coverage and up to 1 to 2 centimeters in thickness," Matthews said. "I have not yet investigated other sections of the river but would expect that additional areas of bloom are likely present in the river."

River conservationists are very concerned about the potential for spreading rock snot. "The discovery of didymo in the Mad River is great cause for concern," said Caitrin Noel, watershed coordinator for Friends of the Mad River. "We are working hard to learn all we can about the extent of this, how to address it and will continue to study this in the future." Full Article


Barriers used to control milfoil in Lake Luzerne, New York

By Erin DeMuth Judd,

LAKE LUZERNE — Last year, seasonal and year-round residents of Lake Luzerne came together to do something about a growing problem — Eurasian watermilfoil in Lake Luzerne. The invasive plant has established itself in large beds around the lake, posing a threat to native plants and aquatic recreation like fishing and boating.

In an effort to beat back the weed, and control its spread, the Aquatic Conservation Task Force laid large sheets of plastic called benthic barriers over the milfoil beds. The group, formerly called the Milfoil Pirates, was able to pay for the barriers with money from both the town of Lake Luzerne and the Lake Luzerne Association.

ACT member Mike Schaffer said the mats seem to have effectively smothered milfoil in the areas in which they were placed. They worked so well, in fact, that the group is expanding its efforts and laying down more barriers this summer. Full Article


Lake Musconetcong, New Jersey, weed harvesting to begin

By Michael Daigle,

STANHOPE, NJ — Weed harvesting on Lake Musconetcong should begin by next week, following completion of a search for three endangered plants species, according to the Lake Musconetcong Regional Planning Board.

The state Division of Parks and Forestry approved the weed harvesting on the 326-acre state-owned lake surrounded by Stanhope, Netcong, Roxbury Township and Byram. The harvesting usually begins in May.

The Department of Environmental Protection required the regional planning board to determine if three endangered plant species, identified in a report from the 1950’s as part of a ongoing update of a natural heritage database, were still in the lake.

The local study, conducted in June by Robynn Shannon of Ramapo College, identified two plant species, Robbin’s pondweed and the tuberous white water lily.

In her letter to the board giving the go ahead for the harvesting, Lynn E. Fleming, assistant director for Parks and Forestry, asked that the board “employ methods to ensure that harvesting will not impact (these plant) populations.” She instructed the board to protect the growth areas of the lily, which are generally around the entire shoreline of the lake.

Board Chairman Douglas Zellman said that a concern now is securing use of a roll-off container used to dispose of the weeds. The larger concern, he said, is that the two-month delay is harvesting activity has given the head-start given the weeds, mostly a variety of milfoil, bottom-growing invasive plant that chokes the shallow coves of the lake.

“The DEP required a plant survey of the lake before harvesting could begin,” Zellman said. “Unfortunately, preparing a scope of work and procedure to conduct this survey, contracting with a DEP-certified professional to complete this work and completing the first of three phases of the survey caused us to lose almost two months of harvesting season. The lake became choked with weeds as a result.”

Zellman said the container should arrive by next week and harvesting will begin shortly after. "We believe there is a good faith effort on the part of the state to meet our mutual goal of lake management,” he said. “We have an opportunity to address this issue with the plants in the lake now while we are completing our bathymetric survey of the lake. Having this concern and correction addressed for our future dredging plan will help avoid complications when a method of dredging and funding can be found.”

Fleming said she would like this to use the relationship with the Board as a “pilot” or “model” of state and local cooperation for the protection of a state resource.

Zellman said the lake board is continuing with the second and third phases of the survey and working with Parks and Forestry to design and implement a maintenance plan that can protect the entire ecosystem of Lake Musconetcong, including these special interest plants found in the lake.

Zellman said the lake is 3 to 4 feet deep in the center, and less than 2 feet deep in the weed-choked coves. The shallow water allows sunlight to penetrate to the bottom of the lake promoting weed growth. Sunlight can penetrate to a depth of 10 feet, he said.

The lake regional planning is an all-volunteer board with appointed representatives from Stanhope, Netcong, Roxbury, Byram, Morris and Sussex counties and the state. The board operates its weed-harvesting and lake management program through small grants from each governing body, and with $45,000 awarded to cover the cost of three years of harvesting. Article


Volunteers help control spread of water primrose in Peconic River, New York

By Vera Chinese, The Southampton Press

Charles A. Guthrie scoured the shoreline of Peconic Lake from his canoe on Sunday in search of a species that could potentially take over the entire lake and, if left alone, possibly Peconic River. After nearly 45 minutes of rowing to reach the western end of the lake, Mr. Guthrie, regional fisheries manager for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, finally spotted the telltale yellow flower of the non-native invasive plant called Ludwigia peploides, commonly known as water primrose, and removed it from the water.

Thanks to the efforts of volunteers, infestation areas of the plant in this part of Peconic Lake, which borders Riverhead and Brookhaven towns, are now few and far between. That was not the case just two years ago, when sections of the lake could not be accessed via boat due to the dense floating mats created by the South American plant species.

The Peconic Estuary Program, in partnership with other environmentalists from New York State and Suffolk County, held a large-scale cleanup this past weekend to remove the freshwater plant from local wetlands. More than 40 volunteers on Saturday, and about half of that number on Sunday, launched their canoes and kayaks and manually removed the invasive species from Peconic Lake, a body of water that feeds the Peconic River. The best way to effectively remove the hardy species is to pull it out by hand, which is done with little difficulty because of the plants’ shallow roots.

Volunteers pulled an estimated two cubic yards of water primrose over the weekend. Last month, about 35 volunteers removed double that amount from the water, according to organizers. The plants were then loaded onto boats and later placed in a Dumpster located on property owned by the Peconic Lakes Estates Civic Organization. Volunteers have pulled nearly 40 cubic yards of water primrose in a single day during previous cleanups.

The estuary program has been hosting water primrose pulls since the summer of 2006, about three years after the species was first spotted in Peconic Lake. Laura Stephensen, the coordinator of the Peconic Estuary Program for the DEC’s Bureau of Marine Resources, said the program has been such a success that large-scale pulls might not be required next year.

“There’s been a huge improvement,” said Ms. Stephensen of the progress made to clear water primrose from the estuary. “We’ve been able to keep it under control.”

Kathy Schwager, an invasive species plant specialist with the Nature Conservatory, explained that, at one point, the Peconic Lake ecosystem was in danger of being overrun by water primrose. “There were places your could not access,” she said. “We’ve cleared that area and it’s not there anymore.”

Ms. Schwager added that early intervention was the key in controlling the spread of the invasive species. “We caught it at the right time,” she said.

When asked what could possibly happen if the water primrose invasion went untreated in the lake, Peconic Lake Estates Civic Organization President Ernie Fugina offered one possible scenario: “It would look like a meadow.”

Environmentalists speculate that water primrose was introduced into Peconic Lake, also known as Forge Lake, in 2003. Ms. Stephensen explained that water primrose, which blocks sunlight from other aquatic plants and reduces oxygen levels in the water, is destructive to the natural ecosystem of the lake.

Ms. Stephensen said the estuary program organizes about four major pulls, like the one held last weekend, over two weekends each summer. The progress made during these pulls is enough to drastically reduce growth for the remainder of the summer, which is the season that usually provides the best conditions for the perennial plant to thrive.

Water primrose has been found as far east as Grangebel Park in downtown Riverhead. To date, it has not entered the waters of Southampton Town, according to environmentalists. The only other place water primrose has been found on Long Island is in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services, which oversees the Peconic Estuary Program, acquired a $26,000 grant from the DEC and $3,200 from the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership to pay for the Dumpsters and other costs associated with the removal project up until 2009. After that time, the department will have to compile a comprehensive long-term management plan for Peconic Lake and the eradication of water primrose. Earlier this year, department officials secured permission to spend some of the grant money to finance the removal of water chestnuts, another non-native invasive species that has been discovered in Peconic Lake. Full Article


Beetles used to fight purple loosestrife in Maine

( Amy Sinclair, Wells, Maine) - You have probably seen the pretty, purple plant growing in ditches alongside the highways and byways of New England, but looks can be deceiving. Purple loosestrife is an invasive menace -- at least it used to be, until it met its match.

Biologists are farming beetles and releasing them to beat back an invasive plant called purple loosestrife.

This summer, invasive plant technician, David Tibbetts, of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Wells, Maine led the Galerucella beetle rearing and purple loosestrife control project.
Beetles were distributed to 17 conservation partners around refuge lands, including land trusts, conservation commissions, Department of Transportation, and the Maine Turnpike Authority.

Refuge staff worked with the York Soil and Water Conservation District to reach additional partners outside of the refuge service area, including a golf course in Portland, Maine.

Galerucella beetles are host specific, and are only able to complete their entire lifecycle on purple loosestrife plants. These beetles have been used to successfully control purple loosestrife since the USDA approved their use as a biological control agent in 1992.

Over 200 purple loosestrife plants were propagated in plastic containers and inoculated with Galerucella beetles.

All Galerucella beetles were collected locally using aspirators, thus mitigating the cost of buying the beetles from a biological supply source. These locally collected beetles are also already adapted to Maine's environmental conditions and reproduce quite readily in propagation pots. By rearing purple loosestrife in a contained environment with Galerucella beetles, refuge workers were able to produce many more beetles, due to the absence of beetle eating insects and birds. Article and video


Grazing goats will travel slopes of Chattanooga, Tennessee

Associated Press

CHATTANOOGA, TN - A herd of goats has done such a bang-up job cleaning up the kudzu and other invasive plants on Chattanooga's Missionary Ridge that the city wants to turn the critters loose on other tough-to-mow patches.

A public works official says the goats turned out to be more efficient that they originally thought when they first brought them in three years ago.

The city will seek bids from goat contractors later this summer and hopes to have the animals back on Missionary Ridge by October.

The past two years, the contracts ran around $10,000. But this year officials are expecting it to be lower. They're also are talking about expanding the project but haven't said where yet. They hope that with successive years of grazing, the pesky vegetation will be wiped out for good. Article


Governor Deval Patrick (D) of Massachusetts cuts funding for invasives

By Richard Conn, Daily News Staff

Before signing the $28.1 billion budget for Massachusetts this weekend, Governor Daval Patrick used his veto power to either reduce or remove $122.5 million in earmarks for various programs and projects. The governor vetoed $100,000 for invasive weed control along the Charles River. Full Article

There appears to be other invasives items vetoed by Patrick, such as his veto of $25,000 for invasive aquatic weed control in Lincoln. There are several related news stories floating around.


New Hampshire DES uses DAMM underwater vacuum to control Eurasian milfoil

By Ethan Wilensky-Lanford, Concord Monitor

This summer the state Department of Environmental Services has unveiled a new weapon in its battle against the invasive aquatic plant milfoil.

The DAMM - Diver Assisted Milfoil Machine - is a double-pontoon raft the size of a swimming platform. It is the third generation of a gold-sluicing machine that sucks just enough water to collect weed pieces divers pull out of the underwater soil, but not enough to push the raft across the water.

"You basically have an underwater vacuum cleaner," said Mark Richardson of Divemaster's Diver Services, who worked with the department to design and build the system.

The underwater vacuum cleaner has taken three years to perfect. Meanwhile, its adversary - milfoil, a peaceful-enough looking plant so hearty it was once standard goldfish habitat - has grown stronger. It grew into a strong network in Concord's Turkey Pond and has all but taken over Captain's Pond, in Salem. It grew in 63 bodies of water in the state and became especially thick in Meredith, Moultonboro Bay and, perhaps most visibly, Gilford's Smith Bay.

Left untreated, a milfoil infestation can destroy a lake. The plumy plants grow an inch a day in sunlight and are strong enough to have survived through three years in a dried-up pond in Brookfield.

A key problem, according to Jody Connor, the department's top lake expert, is that all the milfoil has to go somewhere. When it decomposes, it uses most or even all of the dissolved oxygen in the water, which can destroy a lake's ecosystem.

The department bought its first suction harvester, as the DAMM rig is technically called, in 2006. That model had two vane pumps that fed into sluiceways originally designed to separate gold from whatever else was sucked up. The milfoil collection retrofit required people on board to hold burlap bags at the end of each sluiceway. To make matters extra tricky, the massive discharge from the pumps rocketed the raft around the water.

The next summer, he and Connor designed a raft 12 to 14 feet long and about 10 feet wide. Instead of using sluiceways to filter out the milfoil, the system used only one pump to shoot water down into a net. That worked, but the raft was too large to easily move. It spent most of last summer in Smith Bay, before a brief stint in Moultonboro.

This year's raft is smaller. The department can pull it onto a standard boat trailer.

Yesterday, two divers prepared to pull the weed out near Gilford's town dock in Glendale. Milfoil needs strong sunlight to grow. In Lake Winnipesaukee, that means it survives in the first 20 feet below the surface.

Scott Ashley and Walter Henderson donned their wetsuits and went underwater. The water between the floats quickly clouded so that their brightly colored tanks and buoyancy compensators could not be seen from the surface.

"This area is too silted up," Henderson said. "We can't work this spot anymore."

With that, he and Ashley flopped onto their backs, hung onto lines and kicked the raft over to another float. There they tied the raft off and got to work.

Megan Cook, a department intern, raked the sopping green mass out of a mesh bag that hung from the raft's floor. In an hour and a half, the crew cleared about 70 gallons of the weed. It came up clumped with fishing line, lures and a freshwater mussel.

The department measures the plant by dry volume in order to chart the invader's movement, growth and, hopefully, decline.

In Smith Cove, divers removed 3,000 gallons of milfoil last summer. Workers have already cleared almost that much from the cove this year, after a push to pull out the weed before heavy Fourth of July boat traffic spread it through the lake.

"It is a lot better," Connor said. "People have called and told me last year was the first time that they could actually see the bottom."

Richardson was the first diver in the state to earn a special weed-control certification. It is important to train divers before they try to pull up milfoil, Connor said, because more harm than good can be done with improper care. Sections of the plant can easily drift away and regrow. The department has certified about 50 people in the past two summers and will have a fourth six-hour class starting Aug. 23.

Richardson has already begun work on the fourth-generation suction harvester, which will be small enough to put in the back of a pickup truck. If his suspicions are right, there should be quite a market for milfoil eradication systems in the years to come. Full Article


Great Lakes invasive species cost U.S. $200M a year, researchers say

CBC News

Invasive species that have reached the Great Lakes in ballast tanks of oceangoing ships may be costing the surrounding region in the U.S. about $200 million a year, American researchers said Wednesday.

The scientists from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Wyoming limited their study to the economic impact in eight U.S. states surrounding the Great Lakes, but said Canada has also suffered similar losses economically from invasive species.

The study says 57 of the 84 invasives that became established in the lakes after the St. Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959 were transported in ballast water. Among them are zebra mussels and two fast-spreading fish, the Eurasian ruffe and the round goby.

The environmental impact of these species has been well documented. Zebra mussels, for example, consume large amounts of phytoplankton, reducing the food supply for many species of zooplankton, which are important sources of food for smaller fish. The decline of these smaller fish has a negative impact on larger fish further up the food chain, such as adult salmon, trout and walleye.

Likewise, fish like the Eurasian ruffe and the round goby have been able to outcompete smaller fish such as whitefish and yellow perch for food, often displacing these species and again disrupting the populations of salmon, trout and walleye.

Zebra mussels are also known to filter more contaminants out of the water, but animals that consume the mussels are then likely to carry those contaminants with them.

The authors attempted to link these known impacts to economic indicators for sport and commercial fishing, wildlife viewing and use of water for municipal systems and industry.
Sport fisheries were the hardest hit, the study found.

The authors estimate that the annual losses to sport fishing in the eight states bordering the Great Lakes at more than $123 million annually, while commercial fishing losses amounted to just $2 million.

Impacts on commercial fishing were based on the reductions in weight of commercial harvests attributable to invasive species, while sport fishing was measured based on reductions in the number of person-days spent sport fishing. Full Article


Conservation group trying to restore tidal action to Medouie Creek, Nantucket, MA


Common reeds are gradually taking over the south side of Medouie Creek, so its owner, the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, is trying to restore tidal flow into this part of the marsh.
At today's Conservation Commission meeting, Nantucket Conservation Foundation Ecologist Karen Beattie is going to pitch the Foundation's plan to clean out a ditch connecting the southern end of the salt marsh of Medouie Creek to Polpis Harbor and install a culvert to allow unrestricted tidal flow.

Beattie, Dr. Sarah Oktay, director of the UMass Boston Nantucket Field Station and the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management have been working on this proposal since 2004 and are now finally at the point where Beattie has a plan she can present to the ConCom in hopes of doing the work this fall and winter.

"The situation is that there is a salt marsh impounded by two dike roads that is completely isolated and since then, it has migrated over to a freshwater marsh and the phragmites (reeds) have moved in," said Beattie. "We have been collecting a lot of pretreatment data in there to figure out how we can get some salt water in there."

The natural tidal flow for the northern portion of Medouie Creek lowers and raises its water level twice a day in time with the rest of the harbor, but in the southern part, the tide hardly provides any exchange of seawater at all, said Oktay.

Since 2004, Oktay and Beattie have been collecting data from water level measurement meters called transducers placed all around this salt marsh, which measure how much water flows into and out of the salt marsh on each tide, and what the water level is in this area every 15 minutes.
"It's really restricted in the back parts of Medouie Creek," said Oktay. "In the front part, it has a three-to four-foot tide and at the same time at the back part, the same exchange is about a half an inch and the phragmites have slowly but surely been spreading into the area."

And with minimal daily infusion of fresh salt water, this salt-water marsh, said Beattie, is evolving into a freshwater marsh in which the phragmites or reeds are encroaching on the marsh, gradually closing it in.

For CZM, restoration of salt marshes in the state is vital to their survival, as development in Massachusetts is steadily replacing wetlands.

"Recreating salt marsh habitat in itself is a really beneficial thing to do because so much salt marsh habitat has been lost to the influence of people," said Beattie. "It's really important habitat and there's not much of it left."

Coastal Zone Management is well aware of this, which is why, through its Massachusetts Wetlands Restoration Program that accepted the Foundation's project as a high priority, Beattie was able to secure funding for pre-treatment engineering and a feasibility study. When the work begins - Beattie is hoping to get to work late this fall - preformed sections of box concrete culvert three-feet by three-feet square will be placed in the ditch once the Foundation is through cleaning out and re-opening the ditch between the southern part of the salt marsh in Medouie Creek and Polpis Harbor.

In addition to an order of conditions from the Conservation Commission that Beattie is trying for today, the Nantucket Conservation Foundation also needs a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. And last week, Beattie learned that the Foundation's culvert project secured confirmation from the Massachusetts Natural HeritageandEndangered Species Program that it would not negatively impact endangered plant and animal species in the area. Full Article


No New Asian Longhorned Beetle Detections since Last Year’s Control Effort on Prall’s Island, NY

ALBANY, NY (07/16/2008; 1623)(readMedia)-- A recent survey of Prall's Island in New York City has revealed no detections of the Asian longhorned beetle. This is one year following the initial discovery of the invasive exotic insect on the island, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) officials announced today. An Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) infestation was discovered on Prall's Island in March 2007 and an intensive control effort was immediately implemented to prevent the further dispersal of the infestation.

Prall's Island is an 80-acre uninhabited island located between Staten Island and northern New Jersey. Owned by the City of New York, the island is managed by the City's Department of Parks & Recreation (NYCDPR). In March 2007, inspectors from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) surveyed the island and found many host trees on the island infested with ALB. Later surveys also revealed that some trees along the adjacent shore of Staten Island were also infested. Officials believe the beetle arrived on Prall's Island from a nearby infestation in New Jersey, prior to the discovery and control of that infestation in 2006.

Because of the ecological and economic dangers to Staten Island and the rest of New York State of an unchecked infestation, officials implemented a strategic program to remove target tree species on Prall's Island and the nearby areas of Staten Island to prevent the beetle's spread. Removed trees ranged from saplings to mature specimens, with the average size being approximately four inches in diameter. Full Article