Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Week of September 1, 2008

Updated September 5

Invasive didymo confirmed in two more West Virginia streams

By The Herald-Dispatch.com

The invasive algae known as Didymo has been found in lower Glady Fork north of Alpena, and in Gandy Creek near Whitmer, according to Mike Shingleton, Assistant Chief, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Section. After a news release in early July announced the presence of Didymo in the Elk River near Webster Springs, DNR received angler reports of other possible occurrences of the invasive algae. DNR staff collected samples from Glady Fork in the lower stocked section, and also from Gandy Creek in the stocked section of that stream. The samples were sent to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources for confirmation. All samples contained Didymo.

Didymo is a common name for Didymosphenia geminata, a freshwater diatom species that can form extensive mats on stream beds. The thick mats can cover native algae and aquatic insects, making fishing very difficult. These thick mats appear slimy, but feel more like cotton or wool fabric. The algal mats are also called “rock snot” and can be white, yellow or brown in color. The algae form stalks that attach to rocks. While the algae eventually die and break off, the stalks persist and may impact stream habitats and aquatic organisms for weeks or months. Article


Asian longhorned beetle on the wanted list in Connecticut

By Magdalene Perez, StamfordAdvocate.com

State bug researchers are asking Connecticut residents to keep their eyes peeled for an invasive tree-killer beetle.

The Asian longhorned beetle, from China, attacks and kills many hardwood trees, including maple, boxelder, birch, elm, horsechestnut, poplar and willow trees. It has infested trees in Brooklyn, N.Y., parts of Long Island and northern New Jersey for years. Now, it has been spotted in Worcester, Mass., and Connecticut entomologists are on high alert.

"This beetle poses a significant threat to our maple trees as well as other trees," said Dr. Kirby Stafford, state entomologist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. "If it got established, the effects would be devastating to our forests as well as many of our urban trees."

Because of its destructive nature, the beetle is a threat to Connecticut's nursery, maple syrup and forest industries, Stafford said. Article


Purple loosestrife returns to Pennsylvania park

By ETHAN BLOUGH, The Tribune-Democrat.com

An invasive species of plant, which is native to Europe, is aggressively taking over near Presque Isle State Park, according to a report published in the Erie Times-News.

Presque Isle has battled the plant before, back in the 1970s, and it hasn’t been seen again until just recently. Article


Invasive weed jeopardizes Lake Gardner, Mass.

By Katie Curley, NeburyPortNews.com

AMESBURY, MA — Anyone who has swum, boated or fished in Lake Gardner has likely been witness to it.

Lurking under the water is a mass of green weeds that have taken over much of the lake and threatens to damage the lake's entire animal and plant ecosystem if left unabated.

"The weed, mostly variable milfoil, has been increasingly aggressive over the past several years," said Bruce Georgian of the Amesbury Lakes and Waterways Commission.

"There are different theories as to why; no one can tell you exactly."

To control the weed, local officials are even considering draining the lake.

Earlier this month Georgian and a group of volunteers who had completed a "weed watching" program sponsored by the Department of Recreation and Conservation pulled up the weeds in the lake as part of a survey. Another program is planned for the coming year.

In order to control the problem, Georgian said first they have to determine how bad it is and how quickly the weeds are spreading.

"The weeds are aggressive and healthy due to animal waste and fertilizer run off," Georgian said. "But the weeds choke off the oxygen in the lake and make it difficult for fish and frogs and other animal species to live."

The group has come up with possible solutions, though nothing has been planned so far.

"We can drain the lake and freeze the weeds," Georgian said. "This would probably be the best solution, but there are also chemicals, cutting the weeds back and hand pulling. We can't just have a solution, though; we need to look at everything and have a plan to maintain it. There is no magic pill."

The most viable option — draining the lake — would happen in November and need state approval, according to Georgian, though nothing is currently scheduled for this fall.

"It's like taking a pharmaceutical; everything has a side effect," Georgian said. "If you drain and freeze the weeds, it may have effects on burrowing frogs and mussels and, recreationally, people may be stressed." Article


Water chestnuts face herbicides

Harvester loses Oswego River weed battle, so chemicals will be tried.

By Chris Iven, Syracuse.com

The Oswego County Soil and Water Conservation District is out of the aquatic weed harvesting business.

The large green machine that cut into the carpet of water chestnuts choking Oswego County waterways ended its run this week, said John DeHollander, district manager for the soil and water conservation district.

"You'd have to have a fleet of harvesters if you were going to stay ahead of this," DeHollander said.

And the district can hardly afford the one it has, he said. The district's harvester is 15 years old, and it breaks down too often, he said.

This year, the machine underwent $25,000 in repairs and came back six weeks later than expected.

Instead of spending another $100,000 to buy a new harvester, the district will try to control water chestnuts with herbicides.

"For the public dollars, it seems to be the better route to go, especially for the large mass acreage of chestnuts," DeHollander said.

There are about 100 acres of water chestnuts on the Oswego River. This year, the district treated about 30 acres with the herbicide Rodeo. The harvester's goal was to cut 30 to 40 acres, but that didn't happen, DeHollander said.

Next year, using herbicides alone, "I would like to see if we can't treat the whole kit and caboodle, the whole 100 acres," DeHollander said.

What will happen to the old harvester? It will go into storage this winter, and it will likely be sold at auction in the spring, DeHollander said. Article


Senator Schumer visits infested lake

...the Senator travelled to St. Lawrence County (New York) where he was scheduled to take a pontoon boat tour of Black Lake to witness, firsthand, the damage of the Eurasian MilFoil.
Schumer termed the invasive weed a severe problem for Black Lake, saying it could ruin the lake for boating and fishing.

“I have some optimism we can deal with the situation,” Schumer said in Croghan. “We had Milfoil most severely in Chautauqua Lake near Jamestown and I got the Army Corps of Engineers first, to do a survey on how to get rid of it and then to actually get rid of it. They’ve had a lot of success. We’re going to try to do the same thing in Black Lake where it’s not quite as advanced.”

In July, Schumer announced that the Corps of Engineers has agreed to visit Black Lake to investigate the rapidly spreading Milfoil damage and to develop an action plan to eliminate the problem. Article


Taking aim at phragmites

By Beth Blumenthal for WestportNow.com

A Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection worker takes aim on phragmites--the invasive, non-native weeds that are overtaking the natural vegetation around Westport’s Sherwood Mill Pond. The spraying program will allow the native plants to grow back, restoring the vistas and views of the pond. See photo


New Hampshire favors herbicide treatment for Danforth Pond milfoil

Ossipee Lake Alliance, ossipeelake.org

Freedom – September 3, 2008 – Danforth Pond could be virtually milfoil-free, at least temporarily, if state and town officials implement an aggressive herbicide treatment of the non-native weed, according to DES limnologist and invasive species specialist Amy Smagula.

Smagula was the speaker at a Labor Day weekend meeting attended by Freedom town officials and lakefront property owners to discuss options for controlling the spread of variable milfoil in the hourglass-shaped body of water that connects to Broad Bay through Danforth Brook.

Topping the state’s list of options is treating the slimy invaders with the herbicide 2,4-D, which is the only approved aquatic chemical that attacks milfoil’s root system. The proposed treatment would be followed by selective hand-pulling by professional divers and the installation of a small number of benthic barriers, which are fiberglass mats that smother the pest by blocking sunlight.

Smagula said the state could pay up to half of the $14,000 cost but cautioned that the application process is competitive, noting that funding requests are usually three times higher than the state’s annual $110,000 budget.

The herbicide treatment is part of a DES management plan for the pond based on data compiled by the state and volunteers from the Friends of Danforth Pond and Ossipee Lake Alliance. While herbicide treatment is only one of number of options, Smagula said DES had ruled out most of the others. Milfoil-munching weevils will only eat the Eurasian variety, and dredging and mechanical harvesting could make the situation worse. She said the hand-pulling of thousands of pounds of weeds by professional divers during the past three years has been successful but has had limited impact.

“There’s no way divers can pull 24 acres of weeds all at once,” she said, “and the milfoil is spreading faster than it can be eliminated by hand.”

Asked about the safety of 2,4-D, Smagula said the chemical is safe “when used appropriately.” To create a margin of safety, she said the state works with just two professional contractors and has established application and post-application safety standards that exceed the product’s directions for use. She said state tests have shown 2,4-D, which is broadcast using dissolvable pellets, does not migrate into ground water and is safe for fish and native plants.

Introduced in the 1920s 2,4-D has been used to control invasive weeds in New Hampshire lakes for more than 40 years and has been used in all of the New England states, especially Massachusetts and Connecticut where milfoil problems are similar to New Hampshire’s.

“Maine and Vermont have less milfoil and are more restrictive in their use of herbicides,” she said, “although Maine has used it to control hydrilla, which is even more aggressive than variable milfoil.”

Asked about controlling shoreline runoff as part of the plan, Smagula acknowledged that the pond’s thick layer of sediment is an ideal breeding ground for milfoil, but said the weed is so adaptable it would continue to spread even if the bottom were sandy. She said reducing the pond’s nutrient load should be part of an overall watershed management plan that includes “limiting development and encouraging smart growth.”

If approved, Danforth Pond’s milfoil control plan will not be the first time an aquatic herbicide has been used in the Ossipee Lake system. Diquat, which kills invasive plants but not their root system, was used in Danforth Pond in 2002 and subsequently in Phillips Brook and Leavitt Bay in Ossipee. In all three instances the weeds returned in full force the following year. In contrast, Smagula says 2,4-D will knock the plants back for 3-5 years, making follow-up control methods, like hand-harvesting, more effective. Article


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