Monday, August 11, 2008

Week of August 10, 2008

Invasion New York

It's not your typical type of tourism.

But plants and insects end up paying unintended visits to New York City just like any other traveler.

There's one difference, though: These pesky species end up staying.

Grounding their roots, literally, in our soil, invasive species come from far and wide, via barge or souvenir-stuffed suitcases, in what horticulturists and biologists across the city call a serious threat to our habitat. Deceiving to the common eye, these foreign born pests and plants raise significant challenges for the city's Department of Parks and Recreation: monitoring, controlling and even eradicating top the list.

Though the city welcomes visitors from far and ride (foreign tourism, according to the Bloomberg administration, is what is fueling our economy right now), advocates and the parks department have another message for the relentless Asian Longhorned Beetle or the slimy, practically amphibious Snakehead Fish. Article


NH looks to stem migration of pepperweed

By Angeljean Chiaramida, Eagle-Tribune staff writer

SEABROOK — Fearing an invasion of pepperweed in proportion to its spread on Plum Island and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, New Hampshire environmental agencies are now working to prevent the invasive species before it takes hold in Granite State salt marshes.

Scientist worry that, if it goes uncontrolled, it could threaten the plant and animal species that make up the entire Great Marsh ecosystem.

"The reason we're concerned about this plant in particular is because, since its introduction to California in the 1930s, it has spread throughout most of the western states," said Catherine Foley of New Hampshire Costal Program, a division of the state Department of Environmental Services. "It is able to spread quickly due to its extensive root system and live in a wide range of habitats. Once pepperweed becomes established, it forms dense stands where nothing else is able to grow. These stands provide a very poor habitat to native species, especially water fowl."

If New Hampshire can stop pepperweed from becoming entrenched in its salt marsh, environmental experts believe it may stop it from spreading north into Maine.

The use of volunteers is pivotal in the state's early detection and rapid response program... The state is recruiting and training volunteers to map, monitor and pull pepperweed if found in the salt marsh along New Hampshire's coastline.

Volunteers are trained then go out in the field looking for pepperweed, reporting back, and mapping the infected areas. When found, pepperweed populations are hand-pulled by volunteers and monitored both before and after eradication.

For more information on pepperweed, the state's programs or to volunteer, contact Foley at 50 International Drive, Suite 200, Portsmouth, NH 03801, 603-559-0028 or



New National Invasive Species Management Plan

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne convened the National Invasive Species Council (NISC), on August 1, to oversee the adoption of the new 2008-2012 National Invasive Species Management Plan. The plan was developed collaboratively with 13 federal departments and agencies and their partners.

Federal expenditures on invasive species are estimated to exceed $1.3 billion annually. The plan is the culmination of an extensive process of expert review, and public comment. It can be found on


Maine DEP removes Eurasian milfoil from Salmon Lake

BY AMY CALDER, staff writer, Morning Sentinal

NORTH BELGRADE -- Divers on Friday scoured the bottom of Salmon Lake, yanking a new and aggressive, invasive-plant species from a cove off Route 8.

In just more than two hours Friday morning, they had bagged more than 70 Eurasian milfoil plants and were expecting to spend the day collecting more.

Since the species was discovered in the lake Aug. 1, the state has launched an ambitious program to find and eradicate it.

"It's the pit bull of milfoil," said Paul Gregory, with the state Department of Environmental Protection, which was conducting Friday's eradication.

Gregory was one of four people working in a driving rain and stubborn wind to eradicate the Eurasian milfoil, which has been found only at one other site in Maine -- a Scarborough gravel pit.

Of 5,700 ponds and lakes in Maine, only 29 contain an invasive, aquatic-plant species, but the Eurasian milfoil is of particular concern because it is more aggressive than other species such as the variable-leaf milfoil found in Messalonskee Lake.

DEP biologist John McPhedran and Denise Blanchette, a diver contracting with DEP, pulled Eurasian milfoil plants and their root balls from Salmon Lake Friday, placed them in netted bags and sent them to the surface. Gregory and DEP biologist Ray Bouchard hauled the bags into boats.

"It sounds primitive, but hand removal is a very effective method," Gregory said. "We're going to give it our best." The milfoil collected Friday would likely be composted, he said.

Milfoil, when identified, must be eradicated quickly to prevent infestation, said Gregory. "Speed is of the essence," he said. Article


Water Chestnuts taking over New York creek

WIVB-TV News4 Buffalo, New York

TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) - Fish and Wildlife experts are gearing up for an all out assault on Tonawanda Creek this weekend.

News 4's George Richert shows the invader these experts hope to wipe out before too much damage is done.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service discovered them a couple months ago on a routine fish survey.
Water Chestnuts starting to take over one stretch of Tonawanda Creek near Ellicott Creek Island.

Michael Goehle from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said, "We started what's called a Rapid Response. We quickly notified the local agencies, Erie County Parks and they've all been very supportive in our plans to go in and try to hand pull the water chestnuts." Article


Long Pond Greenbelt, New York, gets funding for invasive species battle

Andrea Autichio,

Southampton, NY - An on-going effort to restore the natural habitat in a portion of what is considered by some to be one of the state’s finest nature preserves has been moving ahead rapidly this year thanks to a private grant given to the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt by the Brine Family Charitable Trust.

The $40,000 grant has enabled the volunteers to hire professionals to clear the 35-acre former Bridgehampton vineyard, part of the 600-acre greenbelt, to prevent an invasive species of shrubbery known as “autumn olive” from overtaking the landscape and destroying its ecological balance.

“It just grows everywhere,” Dai Dayton, a member of the Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt said. “We have been making great progress this year,” Dayton noted as she addressed the Southampton Town Trustees at their regular meeting this month.

Thanks to the grant, the Friends of the Greenbelt were able to clear 20 acres on the former vineyard this year alone, compared to the slow going clearing campaign of the first 10-acre portion that fronts the Bridgehampton-Sagg Turnpike which took the last few years to complete by volunteers.

Dayton was flanked on either side by Sandra Ferguson, President of the Board of Directors of the Friends of Long Pond Bond Greenbelt and by Priscilla Ciccariello, another founding member of the volunteer organization that works to preserve the Greenbelt, an extensive natural habitat that runs from the shores of Sag Harbor Cove to the Atlantic Ocean. Article


Basilisk lizard in Cape Coral raises invasive concern

By Brian Liberatore, The News-Press

When a Cape Coral woman spotted a 2 1/2-foot brown lizard clinging to her pool screen, her first thought was, "it doesn't belong here."

I guessed it was somebody's pet that got freed," said Carol Peppers. "All I know is it doesn't belong here."

According to local experts, Peppers is probably right.

Peppers' visitor is known as a Jesus lizard for its ability to run across the surface of still bodies of water. It likely found itself in Cape Coral, experts agree, after a negligent pet owner let it loose.

A small population of the brown basilisks, new to Cape Coral, joins a growing list of non-native species invading local ecosystems, and making problems for wildlife authorities who seem helpless to control them. Cape's City Council wants state officials to act, from reclassifying the species to forcing owners to register them. Article


Saratoga Lake's milfoil curbed


STILLWATER, NY -- Eurasian milfoil, an invasive plant that creates a nuisance for boaters and swimmers, is almost under control in Saratoga Lake, according to the Saratoga Lake Protection and Improvement District.

The district, which is supported by 1,400 taxpayers who live around the lake, paid for an application of a herbicide to kill the weeds. Last year the chemicals were used on the south end of the lake and in May the district moved to the east side. The cost of the project is $550,000 so far.

This year the district switched from the Sonar brand of herbicide to Renovate, a chemical that needs only three days of contact with the weed to work, rather than 30 days, said lake administrator Dean Long, the director of Environmental Planning for the LA Group in Saratoga Springs.

"It killed the milfoil on the east side or stressed it to the point its growth was slowed down and it is 80 to 90 percent under control," Long said.

In 2009, the district will complete the application cycle on the west side of the lake. Article


Small snail may pose threat to Great Lakes' ecosystem

The Windsor Star

A small but potentially dangerous snail has been spotted in all but one of the Great Lakes.

The New Zealand mud snail, which was first identified as an invasive species in the Great Lakes in 1991, has some academics wondering if the spread will wreak havoc with the delicate ecosystem.

Edward Levri, a biology professor at Penn State's Altoona campus, presented his research on the tiny mollusk at the Ecological Society of America's annual conference in Milwaukee.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the tiny snail has been documented in Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and Lake Superior. Now the Penn State researchers have reported the species in Lake Michigan, and the waters flowing from Lake Ontario. Article


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