Monday, May 25, 2009

Week of May 25, 2009

Renewed concerns over invasive beetle in Vermont and New Hampshire

Summer brings renewed concerns about the Asian longhorned beetle. The invasive pest has an appetite for maple trees, and has devastated entire forests in Massachusetts. So far, Vermont and New Hampshire have escaped the invasion.

But the concern is that the bugs will be transported here in firewood carried by campers. As a precaution, New Hampshire next month will ban out-of-state firewood at federal and state-owned campgrounds.

From WCAX News. Link


Madison High School students control invasives at Wildlife Refuge

MADISON, NJ -- It was almost lunchtime on the Madison High School Day of Service and Mark DeBiasse, History Department Chairperson and Service Learning Coordinator, said that his cell phone had not rung once yet to report a problem from any of the more than 40 work sites he was supervising.

Sawing, drilling, measuring, mulching, planting, drawing, painting, digging -- and that's just the beginning, the task list goes on. More than 400 Madison High School students plus faculty members came together to work on service projects that spread lots of cheer and goodwill throughout the school district, the borough and beyond on Wednesday, May 20, during the high school's fifth annual Day of Service.

They formed green teams to test Passaic River water quality and remove invasive plant species at the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, while others organized a blood drive with the American Red Cross.

Read the full story at link.


Saw Mill River Audubon plans “Trees for Tribs” planting

From Saw Mill River Audubon

Sunday, May 31, 9:00 a.m.

Volunteers Invited to Help Plant Native Trees and ShrubsThe last Sunday of May is planting day at Brinton Brook Sanctuary in Croton on Hudson. Everyone is invited to bring a spade, dig a hole, and “go native,” joining Saw Mill River Audubon (SMRA) and the New York State Department of Conservation (DEC) in planting native trees and shrubs to improve streamside habitats in the sanctuary. The restoration is part of the DEC’s “Trees for Tribs” program along tributaries to the Hudson River.

The DEC is providing 100 native plants carefully chosen for this site. The 40 trees and 60 shrubs represent 13 species, including witchhazel, American cranberrybush viburnum, red maple, and sassafras.

Advance preparation by SMRA included scouting the location with the DEC, removing invasive plants from the area, planning the location for each new plant, and preparing labels with plant names.

For information about volunteering, contact:

Ellen Heidelberger
Saw Mill River Audubon


Giant Hogweed confirmed in Butler County, PA

HARRISBURG, Pa., May 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is warning residents of Forward Township in Evans City, Butler County, that Giant Hogweed, a noxious and invasive weed that can cause blistering and scarring on the skin of susceptible people, has been confirmed in their area.

Located along the Pittsburgh/Buffalo railroad tracks at the intersection of Spithaler School and Ash Stop roads, and at the intersection of the tracks and Ash Stop Road, the area with Giant Hogweed has been identified and marked with Department of Agriculture signage.

Citizens with suspected sightings of the plant are asked to call the Giant Hogweed Hotline at 1-877-464-9333. Brochures to aide in identification are available at the Forward Township Municipality Building or online at under "Plant and Animal Health."


PA Gov., PDA Turn Up The Heat on Ash Borer

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell proclaimed May 17-23 as “Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week” in Pennsylvania to help draw attention to the devastating, non-native invasive beetle that has been killing trees in six Pennsylvania counties during the past two years.

The governor urged the public to help contain the beetle’s spread to protect trees and also the jobs associated with Pennsylvania’s $25 billion forest products industry.

“The emerald ash borer has already killed tens of millions of ash trees nationwide and its arrival in Pennsylvania could have a damaging affect on our hardwoods industry,” Rendell said.

“Pennsylvania has been proactive in controlling its spread by enacting a firewood quarantine for counties found to have infestations and completing in-depth surveys to determine the extent of the infestations.

“By designating Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week, we are reminding citizens of the potentially severe impacts this beetle could have on our environment and economy so they can take steps to help stop its spread.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) held a press conference at Bald Eagle State Park in Centre County on Tuesday to recognize Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week. The conference took place in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Envirothon.

Firewood Transport Spreads Beetle

Firewood is the primary means of long distance movement for emerald ash borer and other invasive forest pests, so this camping season people are reminded to use only locally cut sources of firewood and to burn it completely on site. To help protect Pennsylvania’s forests and urban trees, “burn it where you buy it.”

People who suspect they have seen emerald ash borer should call the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s toll-free pest hotline at (866) 253-7189. For more information about the quarantine, contact Walt Blosser at (717) 772-5205, and for more information about emerald ash borer, contact Sven-Erik Spichiger at (717) 772-5229.

Information is also available at


Garlic mustard puts Quarry Hill at risk

By KEITH WHITCOMB JR., Bennington Banner

POWNAL, VT — Timing is everything with garlic mustard, an invasive species of plant that grows on roadsides and in forests. Spotting it before it flowers is difficult, and going after it too late spreads the seeds.

"It's an evil plant," said David McDevitt, the Southern Vermont land steward with The Nature Conservancy. "There is no easy way to get rid of it."

The most effective way, McDevitt said Thursday atop Quarry Hill, where the Conservancy owns a parcel of land, is to pull it out of the ground by hand. McDevitt and a small number of volunteers have been up Quarry Hill three times this year and pulled nearly 100 pounds of the plant.

Ruth Botzow, a volunteer steward for the local Conservancy lands, said she goes up often on her own time to remove the weed.

The Conservancy acres on Quarry Hill are home to a number of rare and unique plants, which the garlic mustard is crowding out.

McDevitt said garlic mustard is widespread across Vermont and other parts of New England. Some areas in Massachusetts, he said, are so infested that pulling the plants by hand isn't an option. He said two days ago in Manchester, he and other volunteers pulled nearly 400 pounds of garlic mustard out of a preserve.

McDevitt said the seed pods can lie dormant for a number of years, meaning areas have to be continuously worked from year to year before progress is made. "If it's a really infested place, you'll be picking that spot for years until you can say you've beaten it," he said, adding the site on Quarry Hill has seem some progress, although last year was an unusually bad year for garlic mustard.

Read the full story at link.


Find of Invasive Zebra Mussels Could Spell Serious Damage

By Ashley Halsey III, Washington Post

The discovery of eight shells no bigger than a fingernail in Maryland waters has signaled the arrival of the exotic zebra mussels that have caused an estimated $5 billion in damage to the Great Lakes.

If they spread, the invasive fresh-water mussels could threaten the less-salty waters of the Chesapeake Bay northward from Annapolis.

The zebra mussels found in Maryland apparently were transported on a recreational fishing boat that was plopped from a car trailer into the fresh waters of the Susquehanna River above Conowingo Dam. Whether that handful can get past the Harford County dam and into the Chesapeake may be a multibillion-dollar question.

"If a bit of debris with a zebra mussel on it gets to the dam, it goes through," said Merrie Street, spokeswoman for Conowingo Dam. "There is no filter."

Read the full story at link.


Adirondack lake stewards try to stop spread of invasive species

By MICHAEL VIRTANEN, Associated Press

ALBANY — When boaters show up this summer to Great Sacandaga Lake in the lower Adirondacks they are likely to be met at public launch sites by stewards asking to check for alien plants or animals.

The stewards, college students, will be looking for aquatic invasive species that have been found so far in about one-quarter of the lakes surveyed in New York’s northern mountains.

They will also ask to check boats leaving the lake, which last fall was the first inland waterway in New York where the spiny water flea was found. They want to keep that small crustacean, native to Eurasia, from spreading to other American lakes and rivers.

“When we move from one waterway to another, we’ve just got go be mindful of what’s hitchhiking,” said Hilary Smith, director of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program. “We need to include cleaning our boat and gear as part of the sport.”

Using hundreds of volunteers, the program has monitored 216 Adirondack lakes, finding 53 with one or more harmful nonnative plants like Eurasian water milfoil, curly leaf pondweed or water chestnut.

“My sense is we’re going to find more uninvaded lakes than invaded,” Smith said.

Read the full story at link.


Maryland sends in goats to save turtles

By Michael Dresser Baltimore Sun reporter

A herd of goats coming to the rescue of a handful of imperiled turtles may sound like the plot of a Saturday morning children's cartoon show, but that's just what's happening in the Carroll County town of Hampstead.

The State Highway Administration has enlisted the help of about 40 goats to devour invasive plant species in wetlands along the path of the soon-to-open, 4.4-mile Hampstead Bypass to protect the habitat of the bog turtle - a species listed as threatened in Maryland.

State highway officials decided to give the goats a tryout as four-legged lawn mowers rather than to attack the unwanted vegetation with mechanical mowers that might have killed the diminutive reptiles or damaged their boggy habitat on the fringe of Hampstead. The goats - leased from a local farmer who prefers to remain anonymous - have been on the job for a week, and highway officials say that so far they seem to be up to the task.

Until now, the bog turtles have been getting all of the attention. Highway and environmental officials have spent years hashing out the details of the $85 million bypass, and finding ways for the road and the reptiles to co-exist. The site where the goats are employed was once right in the highway's path, but officials rerouted it to the ridgeline above to avoid the sensitive wetlands.

William L. Branch, a biologist with the highway agency's Office of Environmental Design, said the decision to use goats to swallow up vegetation at the site - which officials prefer not to identify specifically because of the threat of turtle-poaching for the exotic pet trade - was the result of collective brainstorming by state and federal officials on how to build the road without damaging the local turtle population.

Branch said the Hampstead experiment is Maryland's first use of goats in connection with a state road project. He said officials had heard about previous projects using goats to control vegetation in bog turtle habitats in New Jersey and Pennsylvania - two of the other states in the reptile's range.

Read the full story at link.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Week of May 18, 2009

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid 2009 Volunteer Monitoring Summary for Ithaca, New York

Cornell Plantations, in partnership with the Cornell Department of Natural Resources, Finger Lakes Land Trust, Finger Lakes Native Plant Society, Cayuga Trails Club, and numerous volunteers, recently completed a monitoring campaign to detect new hemlock woolly adelgid populations in the Ithaca area.

hemlock wooly adelgidThe hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) causes nearly 100 percent mortality in the local, native eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). This invasive species has decimated hemlock populations across the eastern United States.

Over 120 volunteers attended three seminars where they were trained to identify and report new infestations. With the support of the newly trained volunteers, conservation partners, and 28 adjoining private property owners, Plantations’ Natural Areas Program coordinated volunteer surveys in nine surrounding hemlock forest natural areas in proximity to previously known hemlock woolly adelgid occurrences. In total, volunteers spent nearly 250 hours and surveyed 568 acres. Volunteers also logged their survey locations and findings on the New York Invasive Species Research Institute database to share this valuable information with other conservation agencies and scientists.

The good news resulting from the surveys is that hemlock woolly adelgids do not appear to be widely established within local hemlock forests at present. One new light infestation was documented within Plantations’ Edwards Lake Cliffs Natural Area, bringing the total number of infested sites around Cayuga, Seneca, and Keuka Lakes to 23. To view a map of the currently known populations within the central Finger Lakes region, visit here

Todd Bittner
Natural Areas Director
Cornell Plantations
Ithaca, NY

Photo: Mark McClure


New York’s Emerald Ash Borer Survey Orientation
2009 General Training

May 26th, 2009 at Ray Brook
DEC Office
1115 Rt 86
Ray Brook, NY 12977

May 28th, 2009 at USDA office in Ellicottville
8 Martha St
PO Box 776
Ellicottville, NY 14731-0776

9:00 AM to end of day.
All participants welcome.

It’s recommended that you bring your own bag lunch. Lunch options are limited at these locations.


2009 Request for Proposals: Pulling Together Initiative

The Pulling Together Initiative seeks proposals that will help control invasive plant species, mostly through the work of public/private partnerships such as Cooperative Weed Management Areas. PTI applications are accepted from private non-profit (501)(c) organizations, local, county, and state government agencies, and from field staff of federal government agencies. Individuals and for-profit businesses are not eligible to receive PTI grants, but are encouraged to work with eligible applicants to develop and submit applications to PTI.

Application deadline: June 30, 2009

For more information, please visit our web site

Ellen G. Gabel
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
1133 Fifteenth St., NW
Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
202-857-0166 (main)
202-857-0162 (fax)


Bill aims to keep Everglades free of exotic pets

By Leslie Clark and Curtis Morgan
The Miami Herald

pythonWater managers dispatched two experts to Washington, D.C., recently to back a controversial congressional bill targeting an Everglades problem that seems to get bigger every year.

The latest, largest evidence emerged last week: A Burmese python stretching 16 ½ feet, the longest yet of hundreds, perhaps thousands of the exotic constrictors the South Florida Water Management District has pulled off its lands and levees in the past few years.

More sobering: The female, found on the L-67 levee south of Tamiami Trail, was pregnant, carrying a clutch of 59 eggs – more proof the giant snakes are breeding in the wild.

"These are not little snakes running around. These are massive, dangerous animals," said district spokesman Randy Smith.

But at its first hearing in April, the bill ran into what a cosponsor quipped was a "hornet's nest of opposition" from pet owners, breeders, hobbyists and pet stores. They expressed outrage to lawmakers in telephone calls, e-mails and YouTube videos – including one titled Pets in Peril, Politicians Gone Wild – arguing that the legislation would bar the ownership of anything more exotic than a Doberman or a Siamese cat.

"One-third of our nation has nonnative species as pets, and apart from dogs, cats and goldfish, which are exempt [in the bill], virtually every species in those homes falls under" the legislation, said Marshall Meyers, chief executive officer of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. The board of directors of the trade group – which comprises pet retailers, wholesalers and hobbyists – spans the spectrum from executives with retail giants Petsmart and PETCO to the owner of the Gourmet Rodent in Jonesville, Fla.

The bill, warned Meyers in a "pet alert" summoning pet owners to action, "could shut down major segments of the pet industry virtually overnight."

To read the complete article, visit

Photo of Dr. Skip Snow courtesy Everglades National Park.


Beware of the slime

By Blaise Schweitzer, Daily Freeman staff

Anglers, flyfishers, trout aficionados and fishery officials of all stripes are following the path of the invasive rock snot alga, also known as the didymo alga.

didymo Not native to this area, the alga can spread and devastate recreational fishing — costing a region jobs and robbing fishermen (and women) of the joy of catching aquatic bounty.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer scored some raised eyebrows when he went public in April with his plan to ask the U.S. Senate for $15 million to protect area streams from the worst of the alga species, the aforementioned didymo.

The money would go toward the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via the Interior-Environment Appropriation Subcommittee, to be distributed toward public relations, set up washing stations and hire inspectors to stop boaters from bringing the alga into non-contaminated waters.

Even the form of the word algae or alga gets people arguing. Steve Sanford, the head of the invasive species arm of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, said people look at him like he’s silly, when he uses the singular form alga, when referring to the didymo alone. “Or pretentious,” he continued, “and they might be right on both counts.”

The public perception of him for his use of alga or algae — for references to multiple species at the same time — is less important to him than that the public get the message and apply it to their fishing habits.

That’s because much of the solution lies in the hands, (and boots, bilges and props) of boaters and anglers. All it takes is one infected pair of waders or a dirty kayak to carry didymo alga to an uninfected stream and before long that stream may be all-but-useless to future generations of flyfishers and the like.

Sanford said the length of time it may take for the alga to ruin a waterway for fishing could vary based on a plethora of factors.“We don’t really know what its impact on New York waters will be or if all New York waters will react the same way because the chemistry and temperature and flow regimes in each of these waters is unique,” Sanford said. “Ecosystems are so complex that it’s really very difficult to predict with any accuracy what the impact is going to be.”

One of the paths of transmission for the didymo is through the felt bottoms many anglers attach to the soles of their waders or fishing boots. The felt gives good traction when confronted by the slippery “rock snot” but it also picks up the alga itself.

Unless the anglers — and others who move between area streams and creeks — are very careful as they move around the region, more waterways will become infected.

For anglers, that means washing the felt soles and/or replacing them with fresh ones after washing the boot bottoms. If they don’t go through the routine, the next stream may well be infected. New waders without felt soles are available. But as Leslie Surprenant, an invasive species specialist for New York State pointed out, “Waders are not cheap.”

Having said that, she is fairly certain a wholesale change in required equipment will not occur. “I don’t think we’re going to see New York State ban felt-soled waders.”

Area businesses will wake up to the problem, Sanford said, if those who use inner tubes or rent canoes or kayaks leave the area because the “rock snot” is unpleasant to be around.

“If it gets really bad to where people don’t want to use these waters any more, that’s a significant (economic) impact, usually at the local level,” Sanford said.

Read the full story at link

Photo of didymo by Tim Daley, New York City Department of Enviromental Protection


Pest Alert: An Orchid Mealybug, Pseudococcus dendrobiorum

University of Florida Insect Diagnostician Lyle Buss submitted this NEW HEMISPHERE and NEW CONTINENTAL US RECORD on April 2, 2009 to the Division of Plant Industry. The initial collection of this specimen was made by a University of Florida researcher on March 27, 2009 on a Phalaenopsis orchid (Phalaenopsis species).

Lyle Buss,, Senior Biologist Scientist Entomology & Nematology Insect Diagnostics Internship, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science



Deeply Divided Panel Backs Eradication of Mute Swans

By Ashley Halsey III, Washington Post Staff Writer

Maryland's majestic white mute swans have dwindled in number from 4,000 to just a few hundred, and a sharply divided state panel recommended yesterday that the invasive species be eliminated to preserve wetlands and endangered native birds.

"The mute swan is an environmental hazard to the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem," according to recommendations sent to John R. Griffin, secretary of the Department of Natural Resources. "The mute swan is one of the world's most aggressive species of waterfowl."

The report, from an advisory committee appointed by Griffin, said that the mute swans pose a "formidable threat" to native wildlife species and "feed aggressively" on fragile submerged grasses and that efforts to kill the remaining swans, estimated to number 500, should continue.

"Ending lethal control would lead to rapid population growth that would ultimately mean that more mute swans would have to be killed to maintain a population level of 500 swans," the report said. "We believe that it is very important for this population-reduction effort to continue to reduce the mute swan population to as low a level as can be achieved."


The animal rights advocates defended the animals as an "engaging and captivating part of the Chesapeake Bay."

"The callous and brutal treatment that these magnificent swans receive at the hands of the Maryland DNR is simply appalling," the Humane Society of the United States said in a letter to Griffin. The organization said the birds are shot or their necks are broken by DNR employees.

Read the full story at link.


Bear Swamp (NY) honeysuckle pull on May 30th

Come be a part of the Adopt a Natural Resource Agreement by helping to pull invasive honeysuckle bushes from Bear Swamp State Forest.

*Gloves and Tools Will Be Provided*

When: Saturday, May 30th @ 9:00am
Where: Colonial Lodge, Rt. 41a & Hartnett Rd Intersection, Sempronius, NY

Contact: Brendan Murphy,, 914-263-3976

*Please RSVP by Thursday, May 28th*


Plant sale to benefit Long Island Native Grass Initiative

There will be a Native Plant Sale to benefit the Long Island Native Grass Initiative (LINGI) on Friday, June 12, Saturday, June 13, Friday, June 26, and Saturday, June 27, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Suffolk County Community College Eastern Campus Greenhouse in Riverhead, NY.

The species currently available for sale include Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans), Little Bluestem (Schizachryium scoparium), Big Blue Stem (Andropogon gerardii), Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), Purple Top (Tridens flavus) and various forbs.

For further information on the plant sale, contact Polly Weigand, coordinator and soil district technician for the Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District at 631-727-2315, ext. 3, or at Polly.Weigand(at)


Lack of NY state funding doesn't stop phragmites removal project

By Erin Schultz, The Suffolk Times

phragmitesIf you live around Marion Lake (Suffolk County, NY), you've probably seen them before -- those tall green reeds that routinely spread around the small inland lake.

Although cut down last fall, stalks of young phragmites are yet again proliferating in the lake and threatening its delicate ecosystem.

But not to worry. Lori Luscher -- founder of the Marion Lake Restoration Committee -- is taking matters into her own hands, promising to rid the lake of the reeds with or without the promised $60,000 government grant to help fund the phragmites eradication project's crucial second phase.

Ms. Luscher tried for years to obtain proper permits and a $100,000 matching grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to remove the phragmites -- invasive plants that have been suffocating the five-acre lake for over a decade.

The part-time East Marion resident of 30 years also organized fundraisers and has been able to collect over $80,000 to match the DEC.

Due to a state-wide funding freeze earlier this year, the DEC put the matching funds on hold. But earlier this week, Ms. Luscher said she found out from government officials that the grant money is coming soon -- she just doesn't know when.

"We're in the top ten," she said. "It's just been held up."

She added that members of the Group for the East End are talking about lending the restoration committee the $30,000 it will take just to cut the stalks for phase two of the eradication project, which also includes hand-applying an environmentally friendly chemical to each stalk.

Read the full story at link.

Photo by Peter Blasl. Jack Luscher chops at phragmites around Marion Lake last Saturday as fellow East Marion residents watch.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Week of May 11, 2009

U.S. wildlife trade poorly regulated, threatening human health and ecosystems, study finds

ScienceDaily (May 11, 2009)
— Wildlife imports into the United States are fragmented and insufficiently coordinated, failing to accurately list more than four in five species entering the country, a team of scientists has found. The effect, the scientists write in the journal Science, May 1, is that a range of diseases is introduced into the United States, potentially decimating species, devastating ecosystems and threatening food supply chains and human health.

geckoThe research by Brown University, Wildlife Trust, Pacific Lutheran University, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Global Invasive Species Programme comes as Congress begins deliberating the Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act (HR 669), which would tighten regulations on wildlife imports. At a hearing last week before the House Natural Resources Committee, Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife, wildlife experts discussed how nonnative species and plants can disrupt ecosystems. One case mentioned at the hearing involves the Burmese python, originally imported as a pet that now infests the Florida Everglades.

The global wildlife trade generates hundreds of billions of dollars annually. The team analyzed Law Enforcement Management Information System (LEMIS) data gathered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from 2000 through 2006 and found the United States imported upward of 1.5 billion live wildlife animals. The vast majority of the imports were from wild populations in more than 190 countries around the world and were intended for commercial sale in the United States — primarily in the pet trade.

“That’s equivalent to every single person in the U.S. owning at least five pets,” said Katherine Smith, assistant research professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Brown University and a co-author on the paper.

“That’s over 200 million animals a year — unexpectedly high,” said Peter Daszak, president of Wildlife Trust and a co-author on the paper.

The team also found that more than 86 percent of the shipments were not classified to the level of species, despite federal guidelines that mandate species-level labeling. The lack of accurate reporting makes it impossible to fully assess the diversity of animals imported or calculate the risk of nonnative species or the diseases they may carry, the team wrote.

“Shipments are coming in labeled ‘live vertebrate’ or ‘fish,’” Daszak said. “If we don’t know what animals are coming in, how do we know which are going to become invasive species or carry diseases that could affect livestock, wildlife or ourselves?”

“The threat to public health is real. The majority of emerging diseases come from wildlife,” said Smith, who is also a senior consultant at Wildlife Trust. “Most of these imported animals originate in Southeast Asia — a region shown to be a hotspot for these emerging diseases.”

The team called for direct and immediate measures to decrease what it has termed “pathogen pollution” — the risks associated with poorly regulated wildlife trade. Specifically, the team recommended:

Requiring stricter record keeping and better risk analysis of animal imports;

  • Establishing third-party surveillance and testing for both known and unknown pathogens at points of export in foreign countries;
  • Educating individuals, importers, veterinarians and pet industry advocates to the dangers of diseases transmitted from wildlife to humans and domesticated animals.

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Cestone Foundation, the Eppley Foundation, the New York Community Trust, The Rockefeller Foundation, the Smith Fellowship Program, the Switzer Foundation, and V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation.

Photo: Tokay gecko from Indonesia by Michael Yabsley/University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine .

Brown University (2009, May 11). U.S. Wildlife Trade Poorly Regulated, Threatening Food Supply Chains, Human Health, Ecosystems, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 11, 2009, from­ /releases/2009/04/090430144537.htm


Weeds of Wrath

24th Annual Symposium of the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council
May 26th to May 29th
Delray Beach, FL

The 2009 FLEPPC symposium promises to be another blockbuster meeting with the latest information on a variety of topics related to invasive species in Florida. This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Joseph DiTomaso.

Here’s a preview of what you can look forward to at the Symposium:

Many presentations on the latest technology in invasive species control;
Information on new worrisome weeds to watch out for;
Updates on biological control research for Florida invasive plant species;
The latest on Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas (CWMAs) throughout Florida;
Hands-on workshops related to invasive plant control and monitoring;
Field trips to Yamato Scrub, Loxahatchee NWR, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, and Delray Oaks Natural Area to evaluate invasive plant management programs, herbicide demonstration plots, and the use of GPS.

CEUs will be offered
…and much more.

Theme: This year’s theme is "The Weeds of Wrath," a reference to John Steinbeck's landmark novel, “The Grapes of Wrath,” which reminds us to continue our struggle to save Florida’s natural areas from pest plants, even during difficult economic times. As weed control budgets shrink and policy makers reconsider priorities, it is more imperative than ever to stay connected, cooperative, and supportive of one another. We hope to see you in Delray Beach.

Registration is still open: For those who have not yet registered--there's still time. Online registration is available at

The preliminary program for FLEPPC 2009 is now available at


Treating Watermilfoil in New York

TYRONE, NY - Biologists are back this week making sure an invasive weed does not make a comeback in two Schuyler County lakes.

On Monday biologists began spreading a herbicide to rid Waneta and Lamoka lakes of the invasive weed know as “Water-Mil-Foil.”

“Water-Mil-Foil” spreads on the surface of the lake just and blocks the sun from penetrating the natural plants below. Biologist said this herbicide only attacks the invasive weeds, not fish or lake plants.

Glenn Sullivan from Allied Biological said “It’s selective to broad leaf plants so that way the pond leaves will be untouched by the herbicide.”

County officials said for two-four weeks neighbors should not drink the lake water. Also, you should not use lake water to irrigate your vegetables or flowers for up to 120 days. Well water will not be affected.

This is the second year that biologist are treating Waneta and Lamoka lakes. County officials said the total price tag of the project is close to a half-million dollars. That money is coming from state grants and taxpayers.

This is the last major treatment for the lakes. Property owners will be updated about the results of water tests taken from the lakes over the next two to four weeks.



Six Delaware Ponds to Be Treated for Aquatic Weeds

During the next three weeks, weather permitting, the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife will be treating six downstate ponds for aquatic nuisance weeds that, left unchecked, can choke the waters, crowd out other, more beneficial plant species and prevent fishing and boating access.

the target aquatic species is hydrilla, a non-native plant that likely entered the state through the aquarium trade. The Division will apply Sonar, an EPA-registered and approved aquatic herbicide containing fluridone. Sonar has been used in Delaware since the 1980s and has been proven safe and effective for controlling hydrilla.

The ponds to be treated are, in Kent County: Garrisons Lake near Smyrna and Tub Mill Pond near Milford; and in Sussex County: Millsboro Pond; and Chipmans Pond, Tussock Pond and Horseys Pond near Laurel. [...]



Monday, May 4, 2009

Week of May 4, 2009

Updated May 8

H.R. 669: Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act

H.R. 669 was introduced in January 2009 by Madeleine Bordallo (U.S. Delegate, Guam). The purpose of the bill is to prevent the introduction and establishment of nonnative wildlife species that negatively impact the economy, environment, or other animal species' or human health, and for other purposes. A subcomittee hearing was held on Apr 23. You can watch a video of the hearing here.

The bill would require the Secretary of the Interior to promulgate regulations establishing a process for assessing the risk of all nonnative wildlife species proposed for importation into the United States, other than those included in a list of approved species issued under the Act.

The bill would establish prohibitions on: (1) importation or transportation between states of nonnative species that are not included in the list of approved species; (2) permit violations; and (3) possession, purchase, sale, barter, release, or breeding of such species.

For more information, visit Link 1 and Link 2.

For a view from the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), visit Link 3.

For a view from The Nature Conservancy, visit Link 4.

For a view from the National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species (NECIS), visit Link 5


June 2 workshop: Invasive Plants in the Hudson Valley: A Local Update on Research & Management

mile a minute vineThis workshop will guide participants in a better understanding of how invasive plants establish in forests, parks, rights-of-ways, and other natural areas. Presenters will address ecological conditions that allow for invasion, a framework of strategies for selecting the appropriate control methods, and updates on species of local concern.

Preregistration required through Cornell University Cooperative Extension Dutchess County. $35 includes full day training, educational mateials, and lunch. Space is limited, registration first come, first serve.

Certification Credits Pending for: NYSDEC Pesticide Categories 2, 3a, 10, 25 and 6; International Society of Arboriculture; and Society of American Foresters. LA Credits, pending approval.

Make checks payable to: Cornell University Cooperative Extension Dutchess County.

Send Registration to:

Cornell University Cooperative
Extension Dutchess County
Farm and Home Center
2715 Route 44, Suite 1
Millbrook, NY 12545
Att: Nancy Halas

Registration and payment must be received by May 22, 2009.

Location: Ladson Park & Arboretum, Somers, NY

Hosted by:

• Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Dutchess and Westchester Counties
• Cornell University Cooperative Extension Department of Natural Resources

in cooperation with:

• The Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation & Conservation
• The Watershed Agricultural Council


New York State Parks adopts sustainability blueprint, including invasive species

ALBANY, NY (05/04/2009)(readMedia)-- Allowing more lawns to return to meadows and using fewer pesticides are key elements of a new sustainability plan aimed at easing the impact that the daily operations of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) have on natural resources, the agency announced today.


The plan recommends OPRHP take an integrated approach to designing and constructing buildings and managing landscapes to minimize impact to the natural environment. A critical component is the goal to eliminate pesticides from parks, especially areas frequented by children, such as beaches, playgrounds, picnic areas, ballfields, campgrounds, and hiking trails. The plan acknowledges areas for which targeted pesticide will continue, most notably in the area of golf course management.

Under the pesticide guidelines, all OPRHP facilities and operations, including those of concessionaires, will eliminate pesticide use wherever possible. In instances where they are needed to protect health and safety or control invasive species, as well as at golf courses and arboretums, State Parks will use least toxic chemicals. All facilities will reduce the use of pesticides through Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques, which employs proactive mechanical, sanitary, cultural or biological methods to control pests to the maximum extent possible, with the use of chemicals only as a last resort. Through detailed surveillance, IPM focuses on establishing physical barriers to pests and reducing the food, water and shelter available to them.

To read the full story, visit Link.


Florida FWC officials plan to spray invasive plants in Deer Point Lake

By S. BRADY CALHOUN / News Herald Writer

BAYOU GEORGE — Water hyacinth is a striking weed that must be destroyed, state officials said this week.

water hyacinthThe weed, along with Cuban bulrush, has infested a couple of acres in Deer Point Lake near Bay Head Road, about 4.5 miles north of Deer Point Dam.

Someone introduced the two menaces to the lake, most likely when they dumped out the contents of an aquarium or a water garden, said Matt Phillips, a biologist and invasive plant specialist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

Phillips, conducting a tour through Deer Point for the media Thursday, showed off the hyacinth, which has a purple bloom and air bladders to keep the weed afloat. The weeds also grow to about 3 feet in height and will continue to grow in wet soil, even if the lake is drained, he added.

"They (hyacinths) can double in weight in about two weeks," Phillips said.

Cuban bulrush is a grassy-looking weed that also floats above the water and does not naturally grow in Deer Point.


The FWC plans to combat the problem weeds by using a herbicide. In about a week, the weeds will be sprayed with 2, 4-D amine. This mild herbicide will not cause pollution or other problems in the lake, Phillips said.

The spray work will cost about $1,000, officials said. Florida officials spend about $2.4 million annually to spray for weeds in state waters, Phillips said.

Read the full story at Link

Photo by ROBERT COOPER © The News Herald.


Retracing the Journey of Two Invasive Species

By HENRY FOUNTAIN, The New York Times

Scientists who study invasive species often start with some basic questions: where and when did the species take hold, and where did it come from? The answers are generally harder to obtain the longer an invader has been around.

toothed wrackSusan H. Brawley of the University of Maine and colleagues have answered those questions for two invasive species, the seaweed known as toothed wrack (Fucus serratus) and the common periwinkle (Littorina littorea), that have been around the coast of northeastern North America for at least 140 years.

Using genetic analyses, ecological data and historical shipping records, the researchers determined that both invaders came from Britain and Ireland to Nova Scotia as a result of the timber trade in that region, which began in the 1770s and peaked after 1815. The species probably hopped the Atlantic on ships’ ballast rock, which was dumped when the ships took on heavy loads of timber. The findings are published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In the case of the seaweed, the researchers were able to trace the species to two locations: Galway in Ireland and Greenock in Scotland. The source of the periwinkles could not be pinned down as precisely. The researchers suggest that there must be other, less conspicuous species that took the same invasion route in the 19th century.

Read the full story at Link.

Photo by Galice G. Hoarau - Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company


May 7 Finger Lakes PRISM meeting

The next Finger Lakes PRISM meeting will take place this Thursday, May 7th at the Montezuma Audubon Center from 10 am – 1 pm.

Attached is a very general agenda, but please note that this meeting features two speakers. Bin Zhu of Finger Lakes Institute will be presenting on his latest research on aquatic invasive species in the Finger Lakes. And Mark Whitmore, from Cornell University will be presenting on hemlock wooly adelgid, Asian longhorned beetle and emerald ash borer.


Group vetoes chemical treatment of New Hampshire pond

By Eric Parry,

There won't be any chemicals used to treat milfoil in Big Island Pond this summer.

The Big Island Pond Corp. decided at a meeting Tuesday not to use the herbicide 2,4-D to treat the 50-acre pond that stretches across Derry, Hampstead and Atkinson, N.H.

Instead, the lake association is relying on a harvester and a team of divers to clean up the exotic nuisance plant this summer, according to Kevin Magner, president of the lake association.

"We're going to re-evaluate at the end of the year and see how it did," Magner said.

The harvester is a 30-foot pontoon boat fitted with a pump, 4-inch hoses, and a perforated deck that allows volunteers to collect the weed in bags and lets the water flow back into the pond.

A team of divers will pull the milfoil up by its roots and suction the plants through the hose to the boat deck.

Applications of 2,4-D were supposed to start in June. The lake corporation applied for funding through the state Department of Environmental Services to spread the chemical, according to DES limnologist Jody Connor. The chemical treatment was recommended in the first year of a five-year plan designed for the pond, Magner said. The lake association adopted the plan last year, and this summer would have been the first season the plan was put into action.

But just a few months ago, the lake association purchased the pontoon boat with the help of the New Hampshire Lake Association. Since then, a small group of lake residents have been working on the boat and planned to take it out for the first time over the weekend.

Connor said the Big Island Pond Corp. was only one of eight selected from 30 applications to receive some funding from the state to treat invasive aquatic plants. The DES had already committed to spending $7,000 of the $23,490 cost to spread the chemical, he said. Money for treatment comes from boating registrations in the state, according to Connor.

Although it's happened in the past, it's rare that a lake association or municipality would withdraw its request for funding. Removing the plant using just divers and the harvester can be a time-consuming task, Connor said.

"Typically, when someone has a bad exotic plant, they don't want to live with it and they want to deal with it," Connor said. The chemical is widely used in other bodies of water in the state to treat milfoil, but some residents along the pond said they were still concerned about the long-term effects it would have on the pond.

"The less chemicals we use on anything the better," said Patricia Goodridge, one of the board members who voted against using the chemical.

Read the story at Link


New Jersey middle school state finalists with invasive species project

From Green Right Now Reports

Twenty-two teams of U.S. middle school students have been named state finalists in the inaugural Siemens We Can Change the World Challenge, in which the students were asked to “go green” by creating and implementing environmental change in their local communities. Two national winning teams and one grand prize-winning team will be chosen and announced on May 18.

invasive species patrolThe Millburn Mustangs team analyzed the harmful effects of the prevalent Norway Maple tree on their growing community. The team members determined that this non-native, invasive tree was a threat to the ecosystem due to its dominance over other species of trees. The Mustangs teamed up with the town’s forester and through surveys, presentations and direct mailings they persuaded 87% of survey participants to replace their Norway Maple trees with other native trees provided by the city.

School: Millburn Middle School, New Jersey
Students: Brannon, Nils, Erik
Teacher/Mentor: Michelle Cho

Diver Assisted Milfoil Machine – A New Tool for Managing Exotic Aquatic Plants

by Scott Ashley, Jody Connor and Amy Smagula, New Hampshire DES Limnologists in "The Sampler" Spring 2009

For the past two years, limnologists with the DES Biology Section, in cooperation with several individuals including divers and fabrication specialists, have developed a diver-assisted suction harvester device (milfoil machine or DAMM) to assist with managing exotic aquatic plant growth in New Hampshire’s waterbodies.

Exotic aquatic plant managers understand the importance of the integrated approach to provide long-term and more effective control of exotic plant infestations. A combination of scaled approaches is the proven method to manage exotic plants. The DAMM unit is one more tool available for the control of exotic plants in New Hampshire.

What It Is

DAMM The DAMM is essentially an aquatic vacuum cleaner used by divers to remove hand-pulled exotic plants and their roots from bottom sediments. This device is operated by specially licensed divers who hold Weed Control Diver certification through the Professional Association of Dive Instructors. The suction harvester is best suited to physically manage small to moderately sized infestations. However, a suction harvester has been working in large infested areas of Smith Cove, Lake Winnipesaukee, for the past two summers and is making excellent progress at controlling the variable milfoil growth in the cove.

The unit is constructed on a floating platform, such as a pontoon boat, barge, or even a swim platform mounted on pontoons. The deck of the platform is modified by cutting a 2’ x 3’ rectangle in the floor. The floor hole is lined with a plant collection net that retains any plants and roots that are suctioned from the
bottom sediments. Mounted on the deck is a vortex pump to draw plants pulled by the diver. A special low-density, large-diameter hose connected to the pump extends into the water from the vessel is used by the divers to suction the bottom plants. A certified diver works to systematically handremove the exotic plant by the roots and then feeds the plant and the roots up the hose. The plants, water and a small amount of sediment are discharged into the net-lined cut-out in the platform. The water filters through the net fabric while the plants remain in the net.

The deckhand sorts through the net contents to remove and set free any mussels or other aquatic life, then scoops the plants into a 20 gallon bucket or container to measure actual exotic plants and root volumes removed from the system. The material is then bagged for disposal in a landfill or compost site that is located a distance from a surface waterbody.

During the summer of 2008, the DES-operated harvester pulled over 3,000 gallons of milfoil.

For maximum cost effectiveness, the DAMM is best used for small to moderately sized infestations. It is not a technique that can be cost effective when used in a large areas of exotic aquatic plant infestation. The most cost effective method for large area infestations is the use of permitted herbicides by licensed applicators. Also, DAMM is not intended for use in controlling native aquatic plants.

Read the full story at Link


Conference: Invasive Species in Coastal Dunes and Maritime Forests, July 16-17 2009

Georgian Court University in Lakewood New Jersey is joining with the New Jersey Sea Grant / NJ Marine Science Consortium to sponsor a conference on Invasive Species in Coastal Dunes and Maritime Forests that will be hosted at Georgian Court this summer. The conference will be held on July 16-17 with an optional field trip to these habitats on July 15. For details on registration, abstract submission, accommodations etc. please visit the conference WebPages at Hope to see you there!


Conference: Complicating Factors in Invasive Plant Management: Circumstances Beyond Our Control? August 11 and 12, 2009

Register online at

To be held at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, PA

Schedule and Registration Brochure


Pesticide is added to the longhorned beetle battle

WORCESTER, MA — The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans next year to step up its campaign to eradicate the Asian longhorned beetle by chemically treating trees in the city that are susceptible to the arbor-killing insect.

Suzanne Bond, a USDA spokeswoman, told the Telegram & Gazette that the massive federal treatment will most likely begin in the spring of 2010 after experts have a better idea of how widespread the infestation is.

The invasive beetles have been reported in Worcester, West Boylston, Boylston, Shrewsbury and Holden.

Michael P. Gilleberto of the city manager’s office said about 21,000 trees have already been taken down in the Greendale and Burncoat neighborhoods of Worcester in an attempt to prevent the insect’s spread.


Ms. Bond said the treatments will be paid for out of the $24.5 million allocated by the USDA this year to battle the infestation in Massachusetts. That money is also being used for research, surveys, removal of infested trees, public outreach and regulatory programs aimed at preventing the transportation of wood from infested areas.

USDA officials said the treatments will be conducted annually for at least three years.

Similar treatments have been done in Chicago, New York and two regions in New Jersey, the other areas infested by the bug.

In New York City, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has hired certified pesticide companies to treat 26,132 hardwood trees on Staten Island and 39,626 trees in Brooklyn and Queens. In Linden, N.J., 1,096 trees are being treated.

Ms. Bond said the trees are being treated with imidacloprid, the chemical found to be most effective in battling the insect.


Imidacloprid, which is commonly used in the lawn care industry to kill grubs and in treatments to rid pets of fleas, disperses through a tree’s vascular system.

When adult beetles emerge from tree bark during the summer, they munch on twigs and leaves that have become laced with the poison. Larvae feeding within the tree are also killed.

Officials said imidacloprid was used in successful campaigns against the beetles in Chicago and in New Jersey’s Hudson County.

Federal officials said the chemical offers little risk to humans or pets and, as in other places, it will be either injected into tree bark or put deep in the ground around the base of trees.

Read the full story at Link