Monday, April 13, 2009

Week of April 13, 2009

Opinion: After five years, government rules out Asian oyster gamble


It's now official, or at least as official as it's likely to get. There won't be any shortcut on the winding road that may lead to some restoration of the Chesapeake Bay's embattled oyster population.

Federal, Maryland and Virginia officials announced Monday that their plans for restoring the oysters do not include introducing the so-called Asian oysters (Crassostrea ariakensis) to bay waters.

The Asian oysters grow faster, are hardier, and are supposedly resistant to diseases - MSX and Dermo - that devastated the native oysters (Crassostrea virginica), whose population is now languishing at perhaps 1 percent of historic highs. Watermen and seafood processors were excited by the idea of importing ariakensis, and the enthusiasm spread to the administration of Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Of course, with federal and state money involved, the idea had to be studied. And studied. And studied some more. The studying outlasted the Ehrlich administration, costing the Asian oysters an advocate.

But there was, in fact, a lot for the researchers to mull over. There is already a dismal record of unintentional introduction of harmful invasive species - from nutria to mute swans to snakehead fish - into the bay region. You can't take it back when you intentionally release an invasive species.

Many environmental scientists were leery of the Asian oysters from the start, fearing they would outcompete the native oysters into oblivion, and then turn out to have their own set of weaknesses. And there is some evidence they are more vulnerable to poor water quality and low oxygen levels - problems that would, of course, assail them in the Chesapeake.

The conclusion seemed obvious to us last October: "Unless the case for ariakensis is a slam dunk, we're probably better off trying to nurse along and revive the native oysters." The government reached the same conclusion this week.

All it took was a five-year study and $17 million in state and federal funds.

At least there won't be any more money spent on shining a flashlight down the Asian oyster dead end. But the restoration strategy the Army Corps of Engineers sketched out Monday would cost $50 million a year for 10 years - and there won't be anywhere near that much money, even if some federal stimulus funds can be used for the purpose. Since 1994, Maryland has managed about $5 million a year for oyster restoration; Virginia about $1 million.

As we've written before, if there's going to be any serious progress toward restoring the native oyster - whose usefulness as a natural water filtration system can in turn help restore the bay - a different strategy is needed. It will have to include bans on oystering in large stretches of the bay, and put more emphasis on aquaculture.

Maybe such strategies won't work. Even if they do, there may not be appreciable progress for years. But they are still a better option, and a better use of scarce government funding, than gambling on another species of oyster.



TNC GIST web site and INVASIPEDIA now available from U of Georgia

The Nature Conservancy's Global Invasive Species Team (GIST) was disbanded in March 2009. The GIST web site along with many useful documents on invasive species control, numerous invasive species images and the recently created INVASIPEDIA were in danger of becoming lost.

The Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health at The University of Georgia, in collaboration with the Global Invasive Species Team, is pleased to announce that the GIST web site and INVASIPEDIA are now available through ( All of Barry Rice's 240 images and John Randall's 911 images that were on the GIST web site have been incorporated into the Bugwood Image Database ( and

The GIST web site on is a static system with the content current to March 2009. Over time, the GIST web site content will be merged into the existing framework. INVASIPEDIA is fully integrated into Bugwood Wiki under Invasive Species at

WIMS will be hosted by iMapInvasives and the Remote Sensing Tutorial will be hosted on Barry Rice's

Please contact any of The Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health staff if you have questions or need additional information.

Thank you,

Keith Douce, Dave Moorhead, Chuck Bargeron, and Joe LaForest

Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health
The University of Georgia
P. O. Box 748
4601 Research Way Admin. Bldg.
Tifton, GA 31793 USA

Phone: 229-386-3298
FAX: 229-386-3352



Energy from lake weeds?

By Bob Young,

With all the debate and discussion about the future of Vermont Yankee, it's critical that Vermonters remain aware of the other ongoing efforts to ensure Vermont's energy future.

Central Vermont Public Service is among many that have urged lawmakers to give Vermont Yankee owners a fair hearing on their request to continue operations in Vermont. Yet, at the same time, we are making extensive plans for future power supplies, including planning for the possibility of Vermont Yankee's closure in 2012.

Last fall, Central Vermont Public Service, Green Mountain Power and Vermont Electric Cooperative began a broad and deep examination of power supply options for the years ahead.[...]

[...] We are also looking into energy production from lake weeds and algae, which could supplement manure in farm digesters. [...] Link


The Institute for Regional Conservation


LOCATION: Sugarloaf Key, FL
DATE PREPARED: April 10, 2009
SALARY: $15.00 /hr

Participates in natural resource management, operations, and maintenance.

This may include one or more of the following functions:

• Removes exotic plant species
• Maintains tools and equipment

Keith A. Bradley, Assistant Director
22601 SW 152 Ave.
Miami, FL 33170
Phone: (305-547-6547
Fax: (305) 245-9797


Job Announcement:

2 Biological Science Technician Seasonal positions with Northeast Exotic Plant Management Team

ALL APPLICATIONS DUE BY APRIL 17, 2009 Duty station: Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area Bushkill, PA Service Period: May/June through November, not to exceed 6 months, at GS-0404-04 level.

Park coverage: Region of 13-16 units in the Northeast the National Park Service, from PA/NJ north to ME For application instructions and position requirements, go to, Job Announcement Number: SH-NERO DEU-09-58T.

Or go to URL: Link

For all inquiries:
Kathryn Aiello
Phone: 770-751-8638


Hemlock woolly adelgid link

Here is a link to excellent information presented on March 13th by Mark Whitmore of the Cornell Department of Natural Resources and additional information about this upstate newcomer.

Enjoy the day,

Chris Lajewski
Northern New York Land Steward
The Nature Conservancy


NY Senator Schumer fears Hudson Valley fishing is at risk from didymo

TOWN OF KENT — While standing in a remote area of western Kent, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer Wednesday promised to sponsor legislation calling for $20 million to protect the region’s vital recreational fishing.

Schumer visited White Pond, a fishing area known for its trout and forecast a demise of sport fishing due to the didymo — a damaging invasive algae that grows in thick mats along riverbeds that smother plants along the bottom of freshwater streams depriving trout of their food, habitat and eventually their lives.

Schumer met with New York State DEC officials earlier this week and learned that unless immediate action was taken to prevent the spread of didymo, “it will spread unimpeded across the Hudson Valley.”

Schumer demanded that the Senate Appropriations Committee direct funds for the Fish and Wildlife Service to combat the didymo algae as well as other invasive plant and animal species.

He called on Interior-Environment Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander to “increase funding for the program to $20 million. We must and will use this funding to fight aquatic invasive species.” Link


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