Monday, April 28, 2008

Week of April 27, 2008

PA officials express concern over emerald ash borer

By Michael Pound,

The bugs are back.

Actually, the emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle that made its Pennsylvania debut last summer in Cranberry Township, hasn’t gone anywhere; in fact, officials at the state Department of Agriculture are hoping against hope that the infestation hasn’t already spread too far through the state.

As warm weather approaches, expect more discussion of the bug, the quarantine that limits movement of ash trees and products made from its wood and the statewide ban on the importation of firewood into Pennsylvania. Also, expect to see more of the surveys that located the critter along Route 19 in Cranberry last June.

The emerald ash borer — a shiny green dime-sized beetle — is a native of Asia, and probably arrived in the United States years ago after hitching a ride in wooden shipping crates. It was first discovered in this country in 2002 near Detroit, although agriculture officials there estimate it had arrived as much as 10 years prior to its discovery.

That head-start there has turned into a huge problem. The bug’s larvae — which bore through ash trees until they become adults — have killed more than 30 million ash trees in southeastern Michigan alone, and killed millions more in Ohio and Indiana.

During its normal life, an emerald ash borer doesn’t travel far on its own, but it has spread as people move ash trees products made with ash or ash firewood from infested areas. That’s why seven states — Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia — all have imposed some kind of ban on the movement of ash wood products or firewood in hopes of stopping the spread.

The bug was discovered here in late June, as a team of state agriculture department surveyors moved through Cranberry Township. The state imposed a quarantine on movement of all ash wood products and all firewood from four counties — Beaver, Butler, Allegheny and Lawrence — just days after the discovery.

One month later, the state banned the importation of all hardwood firewood from outside the state. There are fines associated with violating either of the quarantines.

The infestation has the attention of Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, who this week introduced legislation that would require an inventory of possible invasive species each time the United States enters into a new international trade agreement.

The Agriculture Smart Trade Act, which Casey is co-sponsoring with Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, would force the president to submit a report to Congress detailing the possible invasive species, what impact they could have if they reached the United States and plans and estimated costs for fighting an infestation.

“Increased international trade means an increased risk of importing bugs and diseases that can have devastating effects,” Casey said. “This bill will help acknowledge the risk and put in place the best safeguards so that we can prevent the accidental introduction of these harmful pests.” Full Article


New Jersey anglers, boaters warned of didymo

By Todd B. Bates,

Seen any rock snot lately? Don't laugh. This highly invasive form of freshwater algae can smother stream beds, threatening fish and other aquatic life.

And it could spread to New Jersey. State officials want anglers, boaters and other water users to block a potential rock snot invasion by cleaning boats, fishing gear and other equipment.

"We're concerned, but I don't know if we're alarmed yet," said Duane Lloyd of Brick, a member and former president of the Jersey Shore Chapter of Trout Unlimited, a nonprofit group. He wishes that rock snot had "a different name," he added.

The state Department of Environmental Protection recently issued a warning about rock snot and recommendations on how to keep it from spreading. The algae, which can form thick mats on stream bottoms, have yet to be spotted in New Jersey, according to officials and fishermen.

But New York state officials found it in the East and West Branches of the Delaware River last year and the Batten Kill in 2006, according to e-mails from Alexander J. Smith, a research scientist in the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation.

"Vermont has verified its presence in several other rivers as well," a Smith e-mail says. "The potential for spread to N.J. is very real provided there are river users that recreate in infected waters of N.Y. and then travel to N.J. waters without first following the necessary equipment cleaning procedures."

To avoid spreading rock snot to a new stream or river, people should clean all equipment such as waders, clothing, boats, fishing gear and any other object that has been in contact with the water before they go to a new site, according to the DEP Web site.

"Porous materials such as neoprene waders and felt soles used by wading anglers are prime suspects in the spread of (rock snot) among streams," according to the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation Web site.

Once rock snot affects a waterway, it can't be eliminated, according to a fact sheet by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Federation of Fly Fishers on the Web. "Infection may only need a single cell," the fact sheet says.

Rock snot is the nickname for a microscopic freshwater diatom — a type of algae — dubbed Didymosphenia geminata, or didymo for short. It is found in streams and rivers in much of North America, attaching itself to stream beds by a stalk, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Web site.

Generally drab in color, it can be light gray, brown, white or pale yellow, the DEP Web site says.

Didymo forms large mats closely resembling algae blooms or long streams that look similar to toilet paper, the Web site says. Full Article


Sudden oak death pathogen is evolving, says new study

By Sarah Yang, UC Berkeley News

BERKELEY – The pathogen responsible for Sudden Oak Death first got its grip in California's forests outside a nursery in Santa Cruz and at Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County before spreading out to eventually kill millions of oaks and tanoaks along the Pacific Coast, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. It provides, for the first time, evidence of how the epidemic unfolded in this state.

"In this paper, we actually reconstruct the Sudden Oak Death epidemic," said Matteo Garbelotto, UC Berkeley associate extension specialist and adjunct professor, and principal investigator of the study. "We point to where the disease was introduced in the wild and where it spread from those introduction points."

The study, scheduled to appear later this month in the online early edition of the journal Molecular Ecology, also shows that the pathogen is currently evolving in California, with mutant genotypes appearing as new areas are infested. These findings suggest that movement of infected plants between different regions where Sudden Oak Death is established should be minimized, said Garbelotto. Full Article


University of Florida researchers seek bugs to battle hygrophila

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Years of hydrilla control efforts have paid off for some Florida communities — unfortunately, their success has benefited a more troublesome aquatic weed, a University of Floriday expert says.

For the past decade Hygrophila polysperma — a southern Asian plant known as “hygrophila” for short — has been taking over the ecological niche left when hydrilla was eradicated from waterways, said Jim Cuda, a UF associate professor of of entomology. It’s now a significant problem in South and Central Florida.

Like hydrilla, hygrophila (“high-GRAW-fill-uh”) was sold as an aquarium plant, got into Florida waters decades ago and survived. But the similarities end there.

Hydrilla is strictly a water weed, and can be controlled with herbicides, hungry grass carp or mechanical harvesting. Hygrophila can grow fully submerged or up on river banks. Herbicides aren’t very effective, grass carp don’t like it, and mechanical harvesting breaks its stems into tiny pieces capable of spawning new plants.

Given that scenario, Cuda and colleagues with UF's Insitutue of Food and Agricultural Sciences are looking for natural enemies that attack the plant on its home turf in India.

‘There aren’t any good, cost-effective management options for hygrophila,” Cuda said. “That’s why there’s interest in biological control.”

Last fall, Cuda and entomology graduate student Abhishek Mukherjee made a collecting trip to several Indian states, described in an article published in the spring issue of Aquatics, journal of the Florida Aquatic Plant Management Society.

The researchers found evidence of at least one insect Mukherjee hopes to capture on a return trip this summer. They also collected samples of wild hygrophila that are being genetically analyzed to determine if they’re identical to plants found in Florida.

If so, that would mean insects and diseases found in the same parts of India would be likely to attack the Florida hygrophila. If not, the researchers may keep trying to pinpoint the original home of Florida hygrophila and seek enemies there.

The UF team — which includes Cuda, Mukherjee and Bill Overholt, also a UF associate professor of entomology — recently discovered that the larvae of a native moth species will feed on hygrophila. The moth has no value as a biological control agent because it isn’t host-specific — the larvae attack more than 60 plants — and is unlikely to put a dent in hygrophila populations. But it can be a great research tool, enabling researchers to find out if hygrophila can survive defoliation, Cuda said.

In the United States, hygrophila is currently growing wild only in Florida and Texas. It’s been officially confirmed in 10 Florida counties, though Cuda suspects it’s present in at least 20. Previous research indicates the weed can survive cold climates, and could potentially spread as far as hydrilla did — from Delaware to Florida, all along the Gulf Coast, and north to Washington state. Full Article

Monday, April 21, 2008

Week of April 20, 2008

Updated April 25

U.S. House passes ballast water treatment standards

By Jeff Alexander, Muskegon Chronicle

The battle to keep ocean freighters from dumping more foreign species into the Great Lakes made an historic advance Wednesday, when one branch of Congress passed the nation's first ballast water treatment standards.

On a vote of 395-7, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a Coast Guard funding bill (H.R. 2830) that contained language requiring some freighters to disinfect ballast water tanks beginning next year. By 2015, all ships operating in the Great Lakes must have treatment systems on-board that kill all living organisms in ballast tanks, including pathogens.

The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate, which has been debating similar legislation (S. 1892). If approved by the Senate and signed into law by President Bush, the legislation would enact the world's most stringent ballast water treatment standards. Full Article

The full text of the bill can be found at


Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) releases 2007 annual report and 2008 workplan

APIPP is pleased to announce that our 2007 Annual Report and 2008 Workplan are now available online at .

In addition, the Adirondack Aquatic Nuisance Species Committee produced its 2007 summary report and 2008 Workplan, also available on APIPP's website under the heading: Adirondack Park Aquatic Nuisance Species Management Plan, .


Conservationists, biologists, battle unwelcome species to save Delaware plants

The daffodils are blooming along the banks of Hickory Run, a small tributary of Red Clay Creek.

The only trouble is, they don't belong here.

Daffodils -- like the multiflora rose, the seedlings of Japanese stilt grass and the low-growing garlic mustard -- are invaders in this sylvan setting.

"We'll never get rid of 'em," said James G. Subach, natural lands supervisor for the Mount Cuba Center in Greenville.

Besides habitat loss, many private and public land managers in Delaware believe the spread of invasive species -- especially invasive plants -- is one of the state's biggest environmental

They often out-compete native varieties.

Barry Rice, an invasive-species scientist for The Nature Conservancy, said they typically share characteristics such as a short period from germination to reproduction, produce many seeds and can reproduce both by seeds or vegetatively. In addition, they typically take root in disturbed habitats such as roadsides. Once established at the edge of a road or forest, they easily spread, either on passing vehicles or in the wind drafts from passing cars and trucks, he said.

The impact from invasive plants spreads throughout an ecosystem, according to Douglas W. Tallamy, professor and chairman of the University of Delaware Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, affecting biodiversity on every level from plant composition to insects to birds that rely on insects to feed their young.

While it is a challenge, Tallamy said, it is also an area where individual Delawareans can make a difference.

Big environmental issues like global warming often leave people thinking "whatever we personally do isn't going to make a measurable difference," he said. But with invasive plants, people can make a difference one plant at a time and one backyard at a time.

In a state like Delaware, with less and less undeveloped habitat and with fragments of forest, Tallamy believes there is an alternative: "What we need to do is redesign suburbia."

Because non-native plants often are sold in garden centers, homeowners may plant them without realizing the impact.

In his new book, "Bringing Nature Home," Tallamy wrote that habitat loss and fragmentation from farming and development have taken a toll on native plant and animal communities. Ultimately, he said, there will be no habitat left except for the landscapes and gardens we create.

By getting rid of non-natives in yards throughout suburbia, replacing them with native plants and getting neighbor after neighbor to do the same, you end up with a connected area for wildlife and better biodiversity.

Tallamy knows firsthand what a difference native plants can make. In 2000, he and his wife bought 10 acres in southeastern Pennsylvania. Over time, they removed non-natives and replaced them with native species.

Every year, he said, they can see a difference in the native insects and birds they attract.

Susan Barton, a cooperative extension agent at the Univesity of Delaware and co-author of two booklets on plants for a Livable Delaware, said a transportation department that can remove all the invasive plants along highway rights of way may seem impossible.

"But removing multiflora rose from each person's property isn't incomprehensible," she said. Then, "we'd have habitat in suburbia."

Controlling invasives can be complicated. Subach said it often is most important to understand the life cycle of individual plant species to best time control efforts.

Along Delaware's coastal marshes, where an invasive, giant reed species called Phragmites australis is a concern, control efforts can take years. First, specialized weed killers that can be used near environmentally sensitive waterways are sprayed on the vast stands of weeds. Spray is typically applied over two seasons. The spray is followed by a controlled burn of the reeds.

On Wednesday, firefighters in Lewes did a controlled burn on invasive phragmites at Lewes Beach. Besides being a fire hazard, the invasive species of the reed provides little habitat value in North America.

In 2002, a team of researchers found that Phragmites australis supported 170 species in its native habitat. It is found in Europe, Asia and Africa and researchers here believe there are two varieties in our salt marshes -- one that was introduced more than 300 years ago and is especially invasive and a second variety that is native to North America. The introduced variety provides habitat for five species.

In 2002, state environmental officials estimated the total cost of a state-landowner cost-share program to control phragmites at $168,700. A total of 2,410 acres were sprayed -- a small part of the affected area throughout the state. Nationally, federal officials estimate the cost of controlling all invasive species at $138 billion a year. Full Article


Bullhog vs. Honeysuckle

By Steve Bennish, Dayton Daily News

Montgomery County, Ohio — Honeysuckle, meet thy doom.

Your killer is a 6-ton Bullhog forestry mulching machine its friends at Five Rivers MetroParks fondly call a "Bobcat on steroids."

The last thing you will see, honeysuckle, on your way to being ground into mulch, are six rows of steel teeth whirling around at 2,400 rpm on the front of a machine that travels on steel tracks.
This well-deserved fate has been long in coming for honeysuckle, the green Godzilla of the southwestern Ohio woods.

It's a nonnative invasive plant that overwhelms and destroys native plant life, from valuable oak trees to expensive exported herbs such as ginseng. Conservationists, for good reason, despise honeysuckle, which has taken over park lands and private woodlots. Some would like to ban its sale in Ohio.

Honeysuckle has been difficult to destroy — until now.

At Possum Creek MetroParks this week, conservation biologist apprentice Bryan Dorsey made quick work of several acres along Frytown Road, easily grinding plants up to 20 inches in diameter. This stuff has been growing since the 1960s and it is well established.

The new machine, purchased for $93,000 by MetroParks from FECON Inc. in Lebanon, arrived for service March 28.

It is the only one in possession of a parks organization in these parts.

The Bullhog takes out an acre of honeysuckle in six hours — three times faster than a human crew using chain saws. It's cost-effective and sparing of other plant life, MetroParks officials said.
The Bullhog also works on buckthorn, autumn olive and ailanthus. MetroParks plans to use the machine on honeysuckle from November through April, stopping for bird nesting season.

Between honeysuckle session, the machine will be used for other purposes.

After the honeysuckle is shredded, stumps are sprayed with a herbicide, Dorsey said, in a routine that will have to be repeated because honeysuckle requires regular suppression and FiveRivers has hundreds of acres that need attention.

FECON sells many of its locally assembled machines for maintenance along highways and land clearing, product manager Anthony Nikodym said.


Pesticide ban has parks department eyeing options

By Meredith Blake

Greenwich, Connecticut - The Department of Parks and Recreation is scrambling to come up with a plan to properly treat the town's athletic fields following a ban on pesticides instituted last week.

The department had anticipated the ban, but did not expect it until June 2009, when a state law banning the use of pesticides on all elementary and middle school grounds was set to go into effect. Not only did the town mandate go into effect a year earlier, but it also included all town, school and park athletic fields.

The department did not allocate funds to treat the fields organically, nor does it have the equipment and personnel for the job, according to Tim Coughlin, turf operation manager for the parks department. "This is a major logistical change," he said.

In the past, the department has applied one application of pesticide to prevent crabgrass, an invasive weed that, if not controlled, can smother regular grass and destroy the fields.

Now it needs to use equipment to overseed, fertilize, irrigate the fields, and get people out to attack the weeds. And it must be done now, Coughlin said, before the grass really starts to grow in May and the fields are used daily for baseball and other sports games.

"We can't wait too long. Things need to be done in April," said Bruce Spaman, town tree warden.
Spaman, a member of the Environmental Action Task Force, the newly formed group that proposed the ban, said they pushed for its quick implementation, seeing it as an opportunity

"Basically, the program was heading in that direction, but this was the push we needed to go with the organic program," Spaman said. Additional money will be needed, but it is an investment, he said.

If residents look to the successful field at North Street School, which is a model for the rest of the town, they will see what the fields will become. They won't look like Yankee Stadium just yet, he said.

Right now they are going to have to work harder to monitor and treat the fields and that will cost money, he added.

"We know how to do it, but the question is where does the money come from," Coughlin said. Coughlin will be meeting next week with Joseph Siciliano, director of parks and recreation, to come up with a plan. Full Article


Spread of cogon grass heightens risk of major fire in South Carolina

By KATRINA A. GOGGINS, The Associated Press

COLUMBIA - An invasive weed that already has infested more than 1 million acres nationwide continues to spread across the parched Southeast, and experts say the regions drought makes the highly flammable intruder more threatening than ever.

Cogon grass, known for its fluffy, silvery white seed heads, has coaxed its way into gardens, forests and highway medians across the region, where control and eradication programs have kicked into high gear.

Dont buy it, dont dig it up, dont plant it and just let somebody know if you see it, said Laurie Reid, forest health specialist for the South Carolina Forestry Commission. We are definitely on the lookout for it because if it happens to come into a forested situation, then thats when the danger really comes for either wildfire or a prescribed burn.

Now in its flowering stage, cogon grass can burn all year and when it catches fire, experts say it burns higher and hotter than regular grass during wildfires. Its most flammable in colder months when it appears as a tall, thick mass of brown-colored grass. But drought conditions in the Southeast have kept the weed dry and increased its risk as a fire hazard this spring, experts say.

They are unusually hot-burning fires that consume at higher heights -- up to 10 to 15feet, said Jim Miller, a regional invasive plant scientist with federal Agriculture Department. "I dont think theres anything more flammable in our environments landscape. I dont know anything that burns as hot in our ecosystem as cogon grass."

Once used as packing material that arrived in Mobile, Ala. on ships in 1912, cogon grass can seem harmless even beautiful but forestry experts in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama warn its a killer.

A native of southeastern Asia, cogon grass chokes all competing vegetation it kills off pine seedlings in forests and overtakes grazing land where most animals wont give it a second look because of its saw-toothed leaves. Experts believe the aggressive weed could turn the region into a grassy savannah devoid of all native species if given enough time. Ironically, forestry experts said, the grass has spread in part because its hitched rides on equipment used to fight forest fires.

Its actually got to epidemic proportions, said Ed Brown, a spokesman for the Mississippi Forestry Commission. I call it a super weed. I have seen it grow on some of the driest sites that wouldnt hardly grow anything and Ive seen it growing down the edge of water. Ive actually seen it taking over a patch of kudzu.

Cogon grass, sometimes spelled cogongrass, is on every continent except Antarctica and inhabits around 1.2 billion acres worldwide. Asia has lost about 500 million acres to the weed, and it continues to spread to an additional 370,000 acres each year, experts say.

Its definitely a worldwide problem and now we are a part of that worldwide problem in the Southeast because we have failed to confront it, Miller said. Florida now has over 1 million acres and Miller said hes heard reports of cogon grass causing intense home fires there. Alabama has 60,000 acres of it; South Carolina only 10, so far, according to estimates done by the USDA and Clemson University.

States, with the help of a federal grant awarded last year, are starting to coordinate efforts to study, survey and control the spread of cogon grass. Clemson University scientists plan to survey more than half of South Carolina next month. Full Article


Invasive plant in creek hinders manatees

Zac Anderson,

NORTH PORT, Florida — A popular winter home for West Indian Manatees in Sarasota County has become so choked with debris that the endangered animals are struggling to access the creek.

The problem should be remedied soon though, thanks to a $32,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department.

Sarasota County plans to use the money to remove invasive Brazilian pepper trees, which shed their limbs so rapidly that they dam up the Salt Creek in North Port.

The creek, a tributary of the Myakka River, annually hosts up to 70 manatees, which move from the Gulf of Mexico to warm inland waters during the winter.

"This is a critical habitat for the Manatees and the vegetative dams limit their ability to move," said Michael Elswick, an environmental specialist with the county.

Brazilian Pepper trees grow much faster, and shed their leaves and branches more quickly, than native mangroves and pine trees, Elswick said.

"The trees generate a lot of biomass that has heavily impaired the area," Elswick said.

The county plans to replace invasive trees with native plants along a section of the creek popular with manatees. Work with begin on May 31 and last throughout the summer. Article


Monday, April 14, 2008

Week of April 13, 2008

Updated April 18

Muskrat population declining significantly in Connecticut


The tall, feather-like reeds that have been crowding out native plants along the coastline are claiming another victim — the muskrat.

Wildlife biologists throughout the Northeast and eastern Canada say that they have observed significant declines in muskrat populations, and the culprit seems to be phragmites australis, also known as the common reed.

Paul Rego, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Environment Protection, said that muskrats — an aquatic rodent that resembles a small beaver — have been in steep decline since the 1990s.

"The most widely accepted reason for this has been a change in wetland vegetation," Rego said. "The cattails — their principal source of food — have been replaced by phragmites and also by the purple loose-strife."

Rego said that muskrats have no use for either of these invasive plants. "Cattails are an important source of food for muskrats," he said, noting the muskrat population drop was discovered after analyzing the records of fur trappers. About 400trapping licenses are issued annually in Connecticut.

Muskrats also use cattails to make their nests.

According to the DEP, about 24,000 muskrat pelts were harvested in 1984. In recent years, the number is about 4,000 or less. This decline has corresponded closely with the spread of phragmites, which creates a plant "monoculture" once it invades a marsh, biologists say.

"Phragmites had definitely expanded its range in the last couple of decades," said Todd Mervosh, a weed scientist with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station's Windsor office. "It's a very aggressive plant — it's tall — other plants can't get sunlight," Mervosh said. "And it spreads through rhizomes — they look like roots but actually they're underground branches that spread out 20 feet or more."

He said that phragmites can only be effectively controlled with herbicides, and that there are only a few companies in the Northeast with the training and equipment to do this work in the marshes where the weed grows.

Rego said that there are three other hypotheses being considered, none of which have gained much traction in the scientific community.

The first of these includes the so-called "succession" of marshland, in which it gradually changes from an "open marsh," with mostly grass-like plants, to a "closed marsh" with more trees.

Another has to do with an increase in predators, such as owls, hawks and mink. The third involves the gradual improvement of water quality in the last 40 years, which has, paradoxically, led to a reduction in marsh plant life because cleaner water doesn't have as many organic nutrients.

Rego said that the DEP has studied muskrats in the Quinnipiac River Marsh Wildlife Area — bounded by New Haven, Hamden and North Haven — most extensively. But, he said, it's likely that similar declines have taken place in the marsh at the mouth of the Housatonic River — the Charles E. Wheeler Wildlife Area — and other marshy sites between New Haven and Greenwich.

Rego said that phragmites involve two different plants that have a similar appearance. The invasive variety can be traced to a reed that originated in Europe.

"There is actually a domestic version of the plant which isn't nearly as bad," he said.

Mervosh said that the invasive phragmites are quite likely a hybrid of the native and European species. He doesn't see much letup in its advancement, either. "Unfortunately, it doesn't need a marsh — it can spread to upland areas, too." Full Article


New computer model for gypsy moths

The gypsy moth is an invasive species that destroys over a million acres of forest land every year. A new computer model may help land managers formulate more effective plans of attack against these destructive pests.

The model indicates that the best strategies for managing the moths include eradicating medium-density infestations and reducing high-density infestations, rather than reducing spreading from the main infestation.

"Most managers currently use the same strategy in all situations, but our model suggests that by tailoring their approach to a particular situation, managers can be more effective in slowing the spread of invasive species," said Katriona Shea, a biologist at Pennsylvania State University who helped design the model.

The model will be detailed the April 2008 issue of the journal Ecological Applications.

-- LiveScience Staff Link


New invasive aquatic plant position available in the Adirondack Park, New York

The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, one of NY's eight Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management, is thrilled to announce the availability of a new position - Adirondack Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator (AISC). The AISC will join the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) Director and Terrestrial Invasive Species Coordinator and assist the development and implementation of invasive species programs in the Adirondack region.

The AISC's primary role will be to build upon APIPP's early detection and monitoring programs for aquatic invasives and to coordinate partners working on aquatic invasive species issues (a full job description is attached).

APIPP is a partnership program, hosted by the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and recently funded by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, involving more than 30 cooperating organizations and hundreds of volunteers working to protect the Adirondack region from the harmful impacts of non-native invasive species.

This is an excellent opportunity for a motivated individual to work in a creative, team-oriented environment on an important and high profile conservation issue. Please send a letter of interest, resume, and names and contact information for three references by Monday, May 5 to Hilary Oles, PO Box 65, Keene Valley, NY 12943 or A start date of early to mid June is desired.


Biologist to seek elusive mollusks in Winsted's Highland Lake


WINSTED, CONNECTICUT — Biologist Ethan Nedeau believes the elusive and nearly endangered Eastern pondmussel lurks in Highland Lake, and he soon will arrive to hunt it down. This state-listed "species of special concern" may complicate efforts to control invasive weeds that threaten water quality in the lake, which in turn supports home values where the greatest concentration of wealth (and tax dollars) are found here.

A suspicion that the mussel known to scientists as Ligumia nasuta might lurk in the depths delayed a state permit last year to continue four years of annual herbicide application. The Department of Environmental Protection finally agreed in July to allow the $14,950 application of Diquat, a herbicide used to kill invasive milfoil weeds, in exchange for the town's agreement to investigate the mussel population.

Nedeau is expected to arrive in May, don scuba gear and explore the lake bottom to document the population and distribution of Eastern pondmussels. His services are expected to cost up to $2,000, which will come from the town budget for lake water quality maintenance. Article


Georgia opens invasive species center

By Brad Haire, University of Georgia

University of Georgia experts have opened a new center in Tifton, Ga., to limit the spread of invasive species and understand their impact on native plants. They hope to teach others how to do the same.

The UGA Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health will pool the resources and expertise found in the university’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, said Dave Moorhead, a UGA professor of silviculture and the center’s co-director.

“Our strengths will be creating educational materials, partnering with others on the university level and creating outreach programs,” he said.

The center will be located on the UGA Tifton campus, he said, but its focus will include invasive and ecosystem health threats found around the Southeast, the country and even the world. Center co-director Keith Douce, a CAES entomologist, is in Europe teaching and learning about invasive species that could potentially cause problems here.

“With global trade, now more than ever, the possibility of invasive species being introduced from any part of the world is high,” Moorhead said.

An invasive species is one that is introduced either by accident or on purpose to an area where it hasn’t been in the past. At first, the species may go unnoticed, he said. But if a population is allowed to grow, it can out compete and dominate native species and cause major health problems for the ecosystem. Invasive species cause $100 million in damage annually in the U.S.

Georgia has many unwanted guests like privet and kudzu, a notorious, rapidly spreading vine of Southern legend. But other unwanted guests are now starting to wear out their welcome, too.
Honeysuckle, Japanese climbing fern and the vine Oriental bittersweet are stalking their way through Georgia forests. And cogongrass, an aggressive grass that can choke out native flora, has caused major problems in Florida and Mississippi. It now has a foothold in Georgia.

The Midwest and western states have problems with invasive species, too. Getting land managers on the same page there to control invasive species is a bit easier because a lot of the land is publicly owned, Moorhead said.

It’s different in the eastern U.S., where much of the land is privately owned, he said. “It’s more difficult to get a widespread program and get the word out in this area that invasives are starting to pose problems.”

The center evolved from the Bugwood Network, a UGA Web-based system used to collect, promote and distribute educational materials in entomology, forestry and natural resources. Article


Invasive Species Task Force seasonal crew needed, Town of Lincoln, MA

2 Seasonal, Full Time Positions

Skill Level: Internship / Volunteer

Project Goals and Background Information: This is a project funded by the Lincoln Community Preservation Committee project for purposes of protecting the ecological integrity of the landscape.

Job Description: Crew members will be involved in conservation restoration projects. Duties will include removal of invasive species from conservation land using hand and power tools, and replanting with native species where appropriate. The invasive species to be focused on include bittersweet, buckthorn, garlic mustard, honeysuckle, phragmites, and black swallow-wort. Crew members will also census hemlock trees to determine the extent of the hemlock woolly adelgid infestation. Duties include taking inventory of various measurements, estimating health, and mapping results. Crew members will assist in the propagation of Galerucella beetles for purple loosestrife control.

Qualifications: Possess New England flora identification skills, ability to recognize various invasive species, ability to use various hand and power tools, ability to perform physically demanding tasks, ability and willingness to work in all New England summer weather conditions and tolerate ticks, poison ivy, mosquitoes, chiggers, hornets, etc., ability to work both independently and in cooperation with others, and possess valid driver's license. GPS/GIS experience beneficial.

Job duration: 10 weeks beginning in May or early June

Salary: $12 - $14 per hour depending upon experience

Contact Information: Tom Gumbart 781-259-2612 (phone)


Asian longhorned beetle eradicated in Illinois

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Asian longhorned beetle, a tree-killing pest, has been eradicated in Illinois, U.S., state and local officials said on Thursday.

Illinois is the first state to declare success against the insect. The beetle was discovered in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago in 1998. There have been no signs of the invasive pest in four years.

Between 1998 and 2006, approximately 1,771 trees were removed to destroy the invasive insect in Chicago. Chemical treatments also were used against the beetle.

USDA currently is working with its state and local government partners to eradicate ALB in parts of New York and in central New Jersey.

The Asian longhorned beetle is about 1.5 inches long and shiny black with antenna up to twice the length of their bodies, banded in black and white. It favors maple, birch, elm and poplar trees, among others, as its hosts. Article


Rutgers Coop Extension hosts invasive plant talk on May 8

NEWTON, NJ — Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Sussex County will present its spring forest management series by hosting Dr. Mark Vodak, forestry specialist at Rutgers, State University of New Jersey, on Thursday, May 8 at 7 p.m. at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension Office, 129 Morris Turnpike in Newton.

Vodak will present “Are Invasive Plants a Problem in my Woodlot?” He will describe why invasive plants are of concern in woodlot management, what species are of most concern and what management strategies are recommended for their control.

Contact Rutgers Cooperative Extension at 973-948-3040 to pre-register. Admission is free.


Monday, April 7, 2008

Week of April 6, 2008

Updated April 10

Trees treated for beetles in New Jersey and New York

NEWARK, N.J. - Nearly 80,000 trees in New Jersey and New York are being treated to protect them from a deadly beetle infestation. The Asian longhorned beetle has destroyed more than 30,000 trees since it arrived in the country about a decade ago.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said treatments began last week around New York City. They'll start April 21 on Staten Island and in New Jersey's Middlesex and Union Counties, where the beetles were discovered in 2002.

If unchecked, the invasive species could threaten the nation's lumber, maple syrup and tourism industries, according to the Agriculture Department.

The Asian longhorned beetle first appeared in New York City in 1996, after apparently hitching a ride from China in the wood of shipping crates. Subsequent infestations in New Jersey were discovered in 2002 and 2004.Agriculture Department spokeswoman Suzanne Bond said the agency has been treating trees since 2001 to eradicate the beetle from the continent.

The beetles measure about one to one-and-a-half inches long and have a shiny black exterior with white spots. They attack hardwood trees like maple, willow, ash, poplar and elm, usually in the early summer when the female makes an indentation in the bark and plants eggs.

To kill off the beetles, workers inject tree trunks and soil during the spring with an insecticide called imidacloprid, which is also used to kill lawn grubs and pet fleas. The chemical makes its way into the leaves during the summer, which are eaten by newborn beetles emerging from the bark. Article

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press.


Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Florida, is vulnerable to exotic plants, animals


Leaving the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary boardwalk for a trip through the back country is a little like playing “Where’s Waldo?”.

You look out into a busy green landscape dense with cypress, cabbage palms, live oak, wax myrtle, slash pine, palmetto, and, suddenly, there’s Waldo. Only it’s not a goofy-looking guy in a red-and-white striped shirt; it’s a thick mat of Old World climbing fern or an impenetrable wall of Brazilian pepper or a blanket of water hyacinth or a feral hog rooting up the countryside.

Welcome to exotic Corkscrew.

But note: “Exotic” here doesn’t mean “interesting” or “something we don’t see back in Ohio.” In this context, “exotic” means “non-native” — Old World climbing fern, Brazilian pepper, water hyacinth and feral hogs are all exotics — and in Florida, “non-native” often means “bad.”

While Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is often called “pristine” — a state Web site proclaims, “Visitors to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary find a gentle, pristine wilderness” — it is not.

“I drive through the back country, and I don’t even see the natives,” sanctuary resource manager Mike Knight said. “What I see is exotics popping up.”

If a “pristine wilderness” such as Corkscrew has problems with exotics, no place in South Florida is safe.

Corkscrew officials have identified nine Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council Category I plant species at the sanctuary (Category I plants are “invasive exotics that are altering native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structures or ecological functions, or hybridizing with natives”).

Two others are Category II species (“invasive exotics that have increased in abundance or frequency but have not yet altered Florida plant communities to the extent shown by Category I species”).

The exotic primrose willow is not listed by the council but is considered a nuisance at Corkscrew.

In addition, several exotic animal species have made a home in the sanctuary.

“It never ends,” sanctuary manager Ed Carlson said. “New stuff comes in all the time. That’s the curse of being in the subtropics.” Full Article


Feral cats vs. endangered birds on Long Island


Every spring, as birds flock back to Long Island in droves, Eileen Schwinn wonders whether this will be the season the cats get the last remaining pair of piping plover at Mount Sinai's Cedar Beach. Schwinn, president of the Eastern Long Island Audubon Society, is racked with emotion over what she says is a "dramatic decrease" in species such as plover, bobwhites and ovenbirds threatened by the claws of stray cats.

But Cedar Beach's 30 or so feral cats have a powerful ally in a smorgasbord of animal rights groups, some of whom say Long Island's strays - estimated to be in the tens of thousands Islandwide, according to one rescue group - have as much right to the beach as birds.

The controversy in Mount Sinai reflects a battle playing out from Atlantic Beach in western Nassau County to Sammy's Beach on the South Fork - birders and cat lovers at loggerheads over what to do about feral cats believed to be preying on bird species as common as the tern and as rare as the ground-nesting piping plover.

The plover, a Long Island icon that has been on the endangered species list since 1986, has emerged as the touchstone in the battle. And no pair of creatures is more exemplary of the controversy than the two plover that state Department of Environmental Conservation officials say have been the last nesting pair at Cedar Beach since 2001, if not longer.

In some cases, including Cedar Beach, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has threatened heavy fines if local governments fail to act to protect birds. Brookhaven, which has jurisdiction over Cedar Beach, has worked to reduce feral cat populations, but the town faces long odds because of the prolific nature of feral cat reproduction.

The San Diego-based Feral Cat Coalition estimates that a pair of unaltered cats, combined with their reproducing offspring under optimal conditions, could exponentially produce up to 420,000 kittens in seven years.

"I don't know if we'll ever get the last of them out of there," said Charlie McGinley, director of the Brookhaven Town Animal Shelter, who estimates that his shelter and other agencies have removed as many as 90 cats from Cedar Beach in the last six years. In the past, rescue groups spayed or neutered many of the cats and returned them to the colony, he said.

Feral cats - strays either abandoned or born in the wild - have galvanized activists around the country, who seek a humane way to reduce the estimated 30 million to 60 million nationwide. Many animal rights groups offer the TNR solution - "trap, neuter, return" - in which the cats are lured with food, trapped in cages, spayed or neutered, and taken back to where they were found.
Animal activists began caring for a colony of feral cats at Cedar Beach, a narrow spit of sand and pine trees on Suffolk's North Shore, more than 10 years ago. The animals were likely dumped there by former pet owners, activists said.

The cat lovers supplied food and shelters. But in 2002, a year after the DEC found cat prints all over an area where two piping plover and a nest of chicks disappeared, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ordered Brookhaven to get rid of the cats.

At first, the town partnered with cat activists, McGinley said. Activists trapped the cats, the town shelter spayed or neutered them, and activists relocated the animals to private, plover-free property.

A few months ago, a rift formed between McGinley and the activists, including a group called Caring for the Animals and Recovery of the Environment, when, McGinley said, town workers found more than 20 shelters and food that would encourage the cats to stay at Cedar Beach. A representative from Caring for the Animals and Recovery of the Environment denied the group was responsible for setting up the shelters.

The rift deepened in February when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, aware the plover would be back soon, told Brookhaven to work harder to remove cats from Cedar Beach or face a fine of $15,000 per day.

Bird lovers, including the Audubon Society's Schwinn, said many members of her group are torn because they support the rights of cats and birds. But she said the Cedar Beach plover deserve special attention. They have not successfully fledged a chick in at least seven years, a DEC spokeswoman said. The birds, which typically return to Long Island in March or April, have not been spotted this year, a DEC spokesman said. Full Article


Maryland DNR proposes crayfish bait ban

By Karen Gardner News-Post Staff

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is asking fishermen to help stop the spread of the rusty crayfish in the Monocacy River.

The DNR planned a public hearing for Wednesday April 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Greenbrier State Park Visitor Center to discuss proposed regulations for inland fisheries. One proposal calls for a ban on crayfish as bait in the Monocacy and Susquehanna rivers starting in 2009.

The rusty crayfish are an invasive species that crowd native crayfish out of their natural habitat. The rusties, as aquatic biologists call them, also have the same aquatic diets as many game fish.
That means less food for smallmouth bass and channel catfish, game fish that are popular with local fishermen.

Because it's hard for even trained biologists to tell rusties from native crayfish, DNR is asking fishermen to stop releasing any crayfish in their bait buckets into the Monocacy.

Rusty crayfish have found their way into the Susquehanna and other rivers in upstate New York and Pennsylvania. The DNR is also trying to stop the spread of rusty crayfish along the Susquehanna. Full Article


University of North Carolina student body president J.J. Raynor tackles invasive plants

By Lindsay Ruebens, Staff Writer -

When Student Body President J.J. Raynor was compiling her ideas for running student government, she turned to sustainable campus groups for advice. One of the first environmental initiatives Raynor hopes to tackle is the prevention and removal of invasive plant species on campus.

"The time is right for environmental issues on campus," Raynor said. "They're issues of our generation, and it's time to deal with it, and I hope student government can be a resource for that." Full Article