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.


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