Monday, December 1, 2008

Week of December 1, 2008

Invasive Species DVD Targets Hunters and Anglers

America's hunters and anglers are essential stakeholders in managing invasive species that threaten native fish and wildlife populations and their habitats. "Defending Favorite Places," a high-definition DVD featuring invasive species information and testimonies of sportsmen and women across the nation, will be released in December. The DVD will be available for free or may be downloaded from the USDA Forest Service.


Two wild boars taken in Central New York

By David Figura, The Post-Standard

Two wild boars were taken in the Town of Scott in Cortland County on Nov. 22. Marcus Eriksson, of Onondaga Hill, took his hog, weighing around 300 pounds on the hoof, while hunting from his treestand in the morning. Peter Gianferrara, of Camillus, took his boar mid- afternoon. It weighed about 260 pounds.

This past winter, the DEC, in conjunction with several state, federal and county agencies, resolved to do its best -- by trapping and other means -- to take wild boars off the landscape in Central New York. Officials consider the animal an invasive species capable of substantial crop damage, along with wreaking havoc on other plant life, native animal species and water quality in wetlands and streams.

Wild boards can be hunted and taken year-round by any person who has a small-game license, though doing so tends to scatter them. The DEC asks that hunters and others avoid harassing groups of hogs because it will hinder their eradication efforts. Seen or killed a wild boar lately? Call the DEC at 607-753-3095, extension 296. Link


Northern Woodland Invasives: Doing Battle with Non-Native Plants

by Tovar Cerulli, Northern Woodlands

A huge mound of vines, 8 feet wide by a dozen yards long, lay baking in the August sun. The effort required to cut all those vines by hand, drag them out of the woods, and pile them up to dry suggested someone with a mission.

Walking past the mound, I left the clearing and turned down a woods trail in search of that someone. A few minutes later, I found David Paganelli at work with a chainsaw. Strewn along the slope were the felled stems and silver-bottomed leaves of another targeted plant, autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellate). Working alongside him – wielding clippers and a yellow mustard squeeze-bottle – was his son Ryan, dragged out here during a visit home from Tufts Medical School. Father and son had spent most of that day cutting olives and applying Roundup to the stumps.

David greeted me with an easy smile and was eager to jump right into the subject at hand – invasive plants. “We’ve got quite a bouquet here,” he began. He estimates that 12 to 15 percent of his 200 woodland acres in Strafford, Vermont, had been dominated by autumn olives. After hundreds of hours of labor, there are still several acres left to clear. Shade-tolerant buckthorns – both common (Rhamnus cathartica) and glossy (Frangula alnus) – are scattered over the entire property, forming a patient and ubiquitous understory. There are also a few barberries on ledge outcrops among the larger trees and 20 to 30 Morrow’s honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii) shrubs to deal with... Link


Beach redbay trees in jeopardy

By Bo Petersen, The Post and Courier

Among the live oak and palmetto, redbay trees usually don't get much notice. Until now.

"They're dying all up and down here," said Roy Baylor, pointing both ways along Arctic Avenue on Folly Beach (South Carolina).

"These trees saved our house during (Hurricane) Hugo," Kelly King said sadly as she looks up at the browned leaves of the big tree in her front yard a few streets back.

Laurel wilt disease has begun killing the redbays in the Lowcountry, biologists strongly suspect. Actually a laurel plant, the tree is one of the ubiquitous evergreens of the coast, the swaths of winter green beneath the live oaks along the barrier islands and inland. It can live more than 100 years and grow to a tree's girth. It looks like a skinny-leafed magnolia.

The redbay is a vital piece of the coastal ecosystem, providing late-fall fruit for threatened species of migrating birds and butterflies, cover for nesting, scenery, erosion control and seclusion for beach homes. Link


New York wants tougher invasive species rules

By KAITLYN DMYTERKO, Legislative Gazette Staff Writer

Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis and Gov. David A. Paterson are urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to enforce stricter regulations on ballast water discharges from shipping vessels to stem an invasion of harmful invasive species in New York’s waterways.

Ballast water refers to water held in ships’ cargo holds to keep lighter vessels stable in rough seas, according to the report, Ballast Water Management to Combat Invasive Species, released by Congressional Research Services.

A loophole in the federal 1977 Clean Water Act allows transoceanic ships to dump ballast water in American waterways, often transporting nonindigenous species, such as zebra mussels, with them, according to Grannis. Section 401 of the Clean Water Act gives state water pollution agencies, such as the DEC, jurisdiction to develop stricter regulations for water quality in their individual states.

In 1980, the invasive species, the zebra mussel, was transported with cargo into the Great Lakes. Since then they have plagued the Hudson River ecosystem causing detrimental effects on waterway infrastructures and environments.

Zebra mussels attach themselves to docks, boats and water pipelines and can cause serious damages to infrastructure, including the clogging of pipelines. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, economic damages from zebra mussels is estimated at almost $5 billion a year in the United States.

The DEC is pushing the EPA to enforce ballast water regulations requiring shipping vessels to carry out ballast water exchanges 50 nautical miles away from the shore in water more than 200 meters deep. This water exchange would require vessels to release mucky, sediment-filled water and replace it with fresh ocean water before the ship drifts into state waterways.

The DEC is also calling for the installation of water treatment systems on all cargo vessels. The agency wants the water to meet DEC-recommended guidelines that would require vessels to maintain a salinity level in its ballast water of at least 30 parts per 1,000 before entering New York waters. This mandate would reduce the level of contaminated species the boats are carrying.

According to the DEC, armed forces vessels would be excluded from these standards.

Manna Jo Greene, environmental director for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, said “The ounce of prevention embodied in the DEC’s recommended standards for regulating ballast, bilge and greywater will prevent many pounds of damage, which can be very difficult, if not impossible, to remediate after the fact.” Link


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