Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Week of January 12, 2009

Updated 1/17

New York Governor slashes invasive species funding

DEC chief defends moves as careful way to trim spending

By BRIAN NEARING, staff writer,

ALBANY — State lawmakers had harsh words Tuesday for Gov. David Paterson's plan to cut $50 million from an environmental fund and slash support in areas like a zoos, solar energy, waterfront revitalization and a breast cancer registry. Programs to fight invasive species would drop from $5 million to $1.5 million.

"These changes shock and disappoint me," said Assemblyman Robert Sweeney of Suffolk County, chairman of the Assembly's Environmental Conservation Committee, during a legislative hearing on the environmental aspects of Paterson's proposed $121.1 billion budget. "This is offensive to anyone who cares about these issues."

At the hearing, DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis defended the governor's proposal as a "careful and calculated decision on where cuts could be accommodated." While saying that the fund had been scaled back to its "core mission," Grannis also admitted that the environmental fund — created in 1993 to pay for environmental projects — is the "most complicated and sensitive part of the budget."

Grannis and Parks Commissioner Carol Ash urged lawmakers to support Paterson's proposal to expand the state's bottle recycling law to cover sports drinks and other non-carbonated beverages. The governor is relying on $118 million from that switch to support the environmental fund.

State Sen. Carl Marcellino, a Suffolk County Republican who was the longtime chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee until Democrats took control last week, said Paterson's changes "dismiss a decade of hard work building up this fund. Now it is swept out the door." [Note from Bill: Senator Marcellino has been a very strong leader in advancing invasive species policies in New York State.]

Marcellino also reminded Grannis of his time as a state assemblyman, when he had resisted Gov. George Pataki's efforts to divert cash from the fund into the overall budget.

"These were raids, Pete, remember?" Marcellino said. "Are we ever going to get that money back? And you are going to add more to that pile?"

Brian Nearing can be reached at 454-5094 or by email at


Top 5 Invasive Plants Threatening Southern Forests in 2009

Asheville, NC — U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) Ecologist Jim Miller, Ph.D., one of the foremost authorities on nonnative plants in the South, today identified the invasive plant species he believes pose the biggest threats to southern forest ecosystems in 2009.

“Cogongrass, tallowtree, and Japanese climbing fern are among the fastest moving and most destructive nonnative plant species facing many southern landowners this year,” said Miller.

“Rounding out the top five invasive species that I’m very concerned about would be tree-of-heaven and nonnative privets. While our forests are besieged by numerous invasive plants, these and other nonnative species present serious financial and ecological threats to the South and its forests in 2009.” Link


Invasive algae found in four new locations


ARLINGTON, VT. — The results of testing over the summer for an invasive species of algae have confirmed its presence in four new locations in the Vermont section of the Batten Kill, the Batten Kill Watershed Alliance announced this week.

Didymosphenia geminate, commonly called "rock snot" or didymo, is a type of algae diatom, said Leslie Matthews, an environmental scientist with the Water Quality Division of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. The single-celled organism can "bloom," creating mats of brown material on the riverbed and rocks which could possibly interfere with the life cycles of insects and fish.

The water samples that Matthews analyzed were collected by the Batten Kill Watershed Alliance using a grant from the Vermont Aquatic Nuisance Species Grant-in-Aid program. Eight sites were tested along the river and its tributaries, four of which showed the presence of didymo.

Those sites were in Manchester and Arlington along the Batten Kill itself, the West Branch River in Manchester and the Green River in Sandgate. Matthews said the didymo populations were small, by comparison to similar, native organisms found in the water. She said each sample contained between 500 and 1,000 diatoms, out of which three to four were didymo.

The alliance said the project's cost was $1,383, which included sampling equipment, paying a group of river stewards to distribute educational pamphlets, and the installation of an education kiosk in Arlington. The alliance intends to apply for another grant to fund a study in 2009 to track the algae's population. Link


New brochure: Terrestrial Invasive Plants of the Potomac River Watershed

From the Maryland/DC office of The Nature Conservancy. Link

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