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


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