Monday, July 13, 2009

Week of July 13, 2009

Updated July 17

Nassau County teams with environmentalists to thwart invasive species

By Phil Spadanuta, Long Island Press

Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and Nassau County Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) worked with volunteers from the Nature Conservancy to remove the invasive plant species, the water chestnut, from Mill Pond Park in Wantagh on Tuesday. [...]

water_chestnut “The best time of the year to remove this harmful plant is in late spring or early summer before it sets seed,” said Kathy Schwager, Invasive Species Ecologist for The Nature Conservancy. “The seeds are viable for up to 10 years so control efforts must be conducted for many years, but luckily this plant has only been found in two locations on Long Island.” The water chestnut is invading Oyster Bay too. But through early detection and rapid response, the water chestnut plants invasion can be curtailed before more damage to the environment occurs. [...]

As Suozzi waded into the pond to remove water chestnut plants by hand, Denenberg followed closely behind him while holding a trash bag for Suozzi to put the plants in. The effort to remove plants by hand complements $20 million worth of pond improvement projects that the county has implemented at south shore ponds over the last few years.

“They not only damage the lands and waters that native plants and animals need to survive, they hurt economies and threaten human well-being,” Suozzi said.

In addition to removing the plants, Schwager hopes to get plants that are considered invasive species banned worldwide by the Horticultural Industry so they cannot be sold anymore or spread to other areas.

Special areas of land that are protected from invasive species completely, called invasive species prevention zones, have also been created by members of The Nature Conservancy to help combat the problem. According to Schwager, about 12 zones exist right now covering around 33,000 acres of land.

In addition to ridding Mill Pond Park of water chestnuts, Nassau is involved with at least eight other projects involving the improvement of other bodies of water in the county through dredging and adding vegetation. The parks projects include work at Camman’s Pond in Merrick, Milburn Pond in Freeport, Tanglewood Park and Preserve in Lakeview, Lofts Pond and Silver Lake in Baldwin, Roosevelt Pond and Massapequa Preserve. [...]

For more information about The Nature Conservancy go to

Read the full story at link.

Photo above: Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) and Kathy Schwager of The Nature Conservancy at Mill Pond in Wantagh.


Vermont officials ban out-of-state firewood

By John Dillon, Vermont Public Radio

State and federal officials hope to control the spread of two forest insect pests by banning out-of-state firewood at campgrounds.

The two insects of concern are the Emerald Ash Borer and the Asian Long Horned beetle. Both are non-native species and they pose a serious threat to the hardwood trees.

Steven Sinclair is the Vermont state forester.

(Sinclair) "They bore into the tree, then it gets cut up as firewood so they can be sleeping so to speak in the tree. And then when temperatures are right in the spring, they emerge, they can live in dead wood, so they'll emerge and potentially spread to other locations. So moving firewood is a hidden danger where the general public may not even know what they're doing."

(Host) The U.S. Forest Service wants only kiln-dried, packaged firewood used in campgrounds in the Green Mountain National Forest.

Wood from local sources is still permitted. But starting July 17th, visitors could face a $5,000 fine if they're caught transporting untreated wood from out-of-state into the national forest.
Vermont is taking a less punitive approach.

Sinclair said that although only local firewood is allowed at state campgrounds, visitors can exchange their out-of-state wood for a local supply from the state park.

(Sinclair) "If a camper came to one of our state parks and was bringing with them firewood that originated from 50 miles away from the radius of the state park - and was more than what we thought they could burn in the evening - we would confiscate that wood and reimburse the camper with some free wood from the state park."

(Host) State and federal officials are concerned because the emerald ash borer has spread rapidly to 13 states and two Canadian provinces.

And the Asian Long Horned Beetle was discovered last year near Worcester, Massachusetts, just 50 miles from the Vermont border.


N.H., Maine on alert for two nasty bugs

By Deborah McDermott,

Forestry officials in Maine and New Hampshire are sending out an all-points bulletin to out-of-state campers and to residents who buy unfinished furniture or even some bagged mulch: beware two nasty, exotic bugs that have the potential to devastate both states' forests.

And in New Hampshire, the city of Portsmouth in particular has been identified as a potential site for infestation.

Entomologists say the Asian longhorned beetle and the emerald ash borer are now confined to other states, many on the Eastern Seaboard and as close as Worcester, Mass., where more than 22,000 trees infested with the longhorned beetle have been cut down and destroyed. [...]

New Hampshire officials are so concerned they have banned from state parks all firewood brought in by out-of-state campers this summer, and have strongly suggested private campgrounds also comply. [...]

In Maine, the most heavily forested state in the nation, with more than 17 million acres of forests, both insects have the potential of destroying many acres of woodlands and affecting its wood products, tourism and maple sugar industries, said state entomologist Colleen Teerling. [...]

Although Maine has not banned out-of-state firewood as the Granite State has, Teerling said her office is working with state and private campgrounds to spread the word. They're going to campground association shows, putting up posters, sending out fliers and the like.

Read the full story at link.


New Hampshire 0fficials have banned out-of-state firewood in state and White Mountain National Forest campgrounds

By Elaine Grant, New Hampshire Public Radio

Bring firewood across state lines into state and national forest campgrounds, and you’ll get a warning or even a fine of up to two thousand dollars.

Wood brought in from out of state could be infested with the invasive Asian longhorned beetle or the emerald ash borer.

Both the state and the U.S. Forest Service are trying to avoid what could be devastating damage from the insects. [...]

Read the full story at link.


ALB "Train-the-Trainer" sesions in Boston and Springfield, Mass.

NEW! Don't miss the opportunity to join upcoming ALB "Train-the-Trainer" sessions in Boston and Springfield. We will provide you with the tools and skills you need to teach others how to recognize ALB and to survey trees for ALB damage.

Boston sessions:
- July 28th, 8:30am-10:30am (
- August 11th, 6pm-8pm (

Springfield sessions:
- July 30th, 8:30am-10:30am (
- August 13th, 6pm-8pm (

Breakfast and dinner (pizza) will be provided. Sign up via links above, or email jennifer.forman-orth AT, or call 617-626-1735.


Power plants? Invasive weeds might produce electricity

WEST BRIDPORT, VT —Electricity just might be wrung from these otherwise discarded weeds.
Elegant in theory, the experiment in its early stages is loud and ugly.

The bright-orange harvester looks out of place in Lake Champlain. Part riding mower, part paddle-wheeler and front-end loader, the graceless watercraft the length of three mid-sized sedans that tops out (in reverse) at 3 and a half mph. It’s even slower when it travels forward, cutting through underwater thickets of Eurasian watermilfoil that choke the lake’s shallows near East Bridport.

But the harvester belongs. The milfoil, an aggressive newcomer, doesn’t.
While no one believes the weed will ever be eradicated, a handful of visionaries believe in its potential to generate electricity. [...]

Read the full article, with photos and video of weed harvesting, at link.


Weevils unleashed in northwest Greenwich to fight mile-a-minute vine

beetlesAbout 500 tiny weevils were unleashed at Audubon Greenwich's Gimbel Sanctuary on Friday morning in a bid to reverse the damage an invasive vine has inflicted on native plant species. The weevils are being used in an experiment to fight the growth of the mile-a-minute vine.

The vine is believed to have arrived in the country mixed in with a delivery of holly seeds from Japan to a now-defunct nursery outside of York, Pa., in the 1930s. It was first identified positively as being in northwest Greenwich in 2000.

The weevils, brought over from China after it was discovered they were effective against the vine in laboratory experiments, are raised at the New Jersey Department of Agriculture's Phillip Alampi Beneficial Insect Laboratory in West Trenton, N.J. They have been used since 2004 in other areas of the country, including Delaware and New Jersey.

The weevils were released first in North Haven on July 2. Thursday, they were spread at two locations in Newtown. Though destructive to the mile-a-minute vine, weevils are not harmful to other plants.

-- Frank MacEachern


Mass. combats invasive zebra mussels

By Associated Press

LEE — The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game is taking emergency action to combat the spread of invasive zebra mussels.

The department on Friday authorized local officials in Berkshire County to bar the use of boat ramps that have been on Laurel Lake within the last 30 days, unless they have been subjected to vigorous cleaning and disinfection. [...]

Read the full story at link.


Bill seeks to limit unwelcome carp


U.S. Sen. Carl Levin is moving to put the invasive bighead carp species of Asian carp on a list of creatures prohibited from importation into the United States.

It may be too late, however, for some waters; the fish, which can grow as big as 110 pounds, have spread from catfish farms in Louisiana in the 1970s up the Mississippi River and are only kept out of the Great Lakes by an electric barrier in a canal.

By adding the species to prohibited wildlife under the Lacey Act, Levin and cosponsors hope to prevent any intentional introduction of the bighead carp to yet-untouched American waters.

Read the story at link.


Mighty moth may become Everglades' new weed eater


Compared to kudzu, the infamous vine that ate The South, Old World climbing fern may be an obscure pest plant. But they're a lot alike.

The fern just has a slightly smaller appetite. It's only eating South Florida.

It's been doing it at an alarming pace, smothering more than 130,000 acres from cypress forests to Everglades tree islands to coastal mangroves in dense cloaks of death -- despite millions spent trying to halt it with sprays, spades and machetes.

But a new weapon -- in development for a dozen years by federal researchers in Fort Lauderdale -- shows significant promise to beat back an invader so aggressive it would cover a third of the wetlands between Orlando and Naples if left unchecked.

It's a nondescript moth, a ''bio-control'' dubbed ''Neo,'' a nickname considerably catchier than Neomusotima conspurcatalis.

Discovered near Hong Kong in 1997 by Bob Pemberton, an entomologist with the U.S. Agricultural Research Service, Neo has produced millions of hungry larvae that have chewed through thick fern blankets with stunning gusto in three field tests.

''I have never, in all my career, seen a biological control that looks as promising as this one,'' said Dan Thayer, who directs invasive-plant control for the South Florida Water Management District. ''My jaw dropped,'' he said, when he saw how Neo colonies in Jonathan Dickinson State Park in Martin County stripped ferns naked.

Though they stress it's still early, Pemberton and fellow entomologist Anthony Boughton, both based at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Invasive Plant Research Laboratory in Fort Lauderdale, agree Neo is a ray of hope for what seemed an almost impossible task: stopping an exotic fern, formally known as Lygodium microphyllium, considered among the most serious threats to the Everglades. [...]

In a soon-to-be-published research paper, the scientists reported Neo numbers rocketing from 31,091 releases to 1.6 million to 8.2 million larvae at site. Neo had stripped some 3.5 acres of fern and expanded its range, moving to adjacent areas a third of a mile away.

Now, researchers are working with state and federal park and land managers to expand releases, starting in fern-choked Loxahatchee.

They don't expect Neo alone to defeat the fern. They already have other candidates in the pipeline, such as stem-boring moths.

But, if Neo keeps it up, there may well be much less need for herbicides and hand tools. Ted Center, director of the Fort Lauderdale lab, called the impact ``incredible.''

''If that becomes the way this agent works, then we have really introduced a very helpful tool in the fight,'' he said.

Read the full story at link.


Cornell scientist to discuss drastic reduction of weed growth in Chautauqua Lake, NY

LAKEWOOD - The Chautauqua Lake Association is sponsoring a symposium entitled the "Chautauqua Lake Aquatic Plant Workshop" led by aquatic scientist Robert L. Johnson, manager of Cornell University's Research Pond Facility, on July 13 at 7 p.m. at the Chautauqua Suites in Mayville. A second workshop is scheduled for July 14 at 7 p.m. at The Casino in Bemus Point. The events are free to the public.

The workshops will give the community an opportunity to see, identify and learn about the different plant and insect species residing in the lake. Topics include the dramatic reduction in weed growth in Chautauqua Lake this year and the methods Johnson and the CLA used to curb infestation. [...]

Chautauqua Lake is experiencing a drastic reduction in weed growth this year according to Johnson. Areas like Burtis Bay are virtually weed free. "The milfoil problem that reaped so much publicity is missing from the Bay this summer," Johnson said. "The CLA has been instrumental in supporting natural remedies to control weed growth like the introduction of moth larvae and monitoring of other insects that feed on and control the milfoil problem."

The CLA, an organization that maintains the health and beauty of the lake, supports a "green" approach to controlling nuisance vegetation like Eurasian milfoil.

"The CLA fought to have the Cornell studies continue," Association President Chris Yates said. "We are firm believers in keeping up with the science of the lake. We hope events like these symposiums will serve to educate the public on the overall benefits of good science."

Read the full story at link.


Zebra mussels clog Berkshire lake

By Beth Daley, The Boston Globe

zebra_musselLEE, Mass. - State aquatic ecologist Tom Flannery poked his face out of Laurel Lake yesterday morning, adjusted his scuba mask, and glumly shook his head at dam owner Roger Scheurer, standing on the concrete structure above.

In between Flannery’s thumb and forefinger was a zebra mussel, an invasive freshwater species that has clogged pipes, fouled water supplies, and endangered wildlife across the Great Lakes.
“They are everywhere,’’ said Flannery, bobbing in the water. “You can’t go a . . . foot without seeing them.’’

Scheurer sagged. In the week since Massachusetts’s first zebra mussel was confirmed in this popular 175-acre Berkshire lake, it has dawned on business people, boaters, and others just what a disaster the mollusks’ spread could turn out to be. Divers found rocks with clinging mussels virtually everywhere they looked yesterday in Laurel Lake, and fears are growing that the nearby Housatonic River is also contaminated.

In an attempt to slow the mussels’ spread, local officials have shut down boat ramps in at least five popular Berkshire lakes; they hope to stop the mussels, which can invade boat machinery and attach to hulls, from being inadvertently transported from lake to lake.

Some fishermen and boaters said they are doubtful that closing ramps will stop the spread, because the animals can hitch rides to other bodies of water on geese or other wildlife. Indeed, officials rarely talk about wiping out zebra mussels once they take hold in a region. Their only hope is to slow the spread.

Instead of closing its ramps, Pittsfield is stationing volunteer boat monitors at two popular lakes to ensure that vessels that have been in infested waters in Connecticut and New York - and now Laurel Lake - are properly decontaminated.

“A lot of our boaters are transient; they go from one lake to another,’’ said Pittsfield Harbormaster Jim McGrath. [...]

The mussels are especially feared in the Berkshires because many waterways there are high in calcium and nonacidic, conditions in which the mussels thrive. If microscopic mussel larvae get into boat intake valves or even kayaks, they can hitch a ride to another lake and take hold, many officials fear. The only way to slow their spread is to get boaters and other water users to carefully wash all equipment and gear or let it dry for about a week in sunny weather, which kills the mussels. [...]

Read the full story at link.

Photo: State aquatic ecologist Tom Flannery searched Laurel Lake in Lee for zebra mussels. (Nancy Palmieri for The Boston Globe)


Hunts sought to control pythons in Fla. Everglades

By MATT SEDENSKY, Associated Press

MIAMI (AP) — U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson called Tuesday for organized hunts of thousands of pythons believed to be living in the Everglades to kill the snakes and prevent potential attacks.

Nelson requested permission in a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who got a close-up look at a 15-foot python found in the swampland during a May visit hosted by the senator. The request also comes weeks after a 2-year-old central Florida girl was strangled by an unlicensed pet python that escaped from a terrarium in her home, drawing further scrutiny to the issue.

"They are threatening endangered wildlife there," the Democratic lawmaker wrote to his former Senate colleague, "and, Lord forbid, a visitor in the Everglades ever encounters one."

Also Tuesday, another lawmaker, U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., introduced legislation to allow python hunts in the Everglades.

Nelson has estimated 100,000 pythons are living in the Everglades, an invasive species population believed to be the result at least in part of pets being released into the wild when they grow too big. "They now have become such a problem in the park," said Dan McLaughlin, Nelson's spokesman, "you could spend the next 10 years setting traps."

The senator asked Salazar to approve supervised hunts of the snakes by U.S. Park Service staff, other authorities and volunteers to kill the pythons en masse. The invasive species have been multiplying in the Everglades for years. [...]

Nelson recently introduced a bill to ban imports of the snakes, after years of trying to persuade federal wildlife officials to restrict their entry into the country. [...]

Read the full story at link.


New U of Maryland Pest Threats Web Site

The University of Maryland's Pest Threats Web Site is up and running. The new site offers photographic keys to help diagnose and identify exotic pest and disease problems that are a threat to the United States. Some of the pests and disease may be present in limited areas of the country but are in danger of spreading to other parts of the United States and North America.

The objective of this web site is to increase the diagnostic skills of green industry professionals, Cooperative Extension personnel including Master Gardeners, government personnel, and citizens to improve their abilities as first detectors – people able to recognize exotic invasive pests of urban and ornamental plant systems that represent potential threats to our Homeland Security. This web site provides “one stop shopping” for information on the identification, biology, and management of exotic pest threats to the U.S., and how to report a potential exotic pest citing.

Visit the site at


Congressional Bills - 111th Congress (2009-2011)

Provides information for invasive species related Congressional bills, including introduction date, sponsor, summary, full bill text, and bill status.

H.R.3173 - Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act

S.1421 - Asian Carp Prevention and Control Act

H.R.1145 - National Water Research and Development Initiative Act of 2009


Guilty Plea by first person ever charged under anti-invsive species law

A Philippine citizen, Charles P Posas, the second highest officer onboard the M/V Theotokos, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of lying to the Coast Guard and violating record keeping laws aimed at reducing the risk of marine invasive species. According to the DOJ, Mr Posas is the first individual ever charged under the anti-invasive species law, a law designed to mitigate the introduction of marine invasive species into waters of the United States. Posas, who served as the vessel’s chief officer, pleaded guilty to one count of false statement and one count of violating the Non indigenous Aquatic Nuisance and Prevention Control Act.

The 1984-built, 71,242 dwt vessel is owned by Liberia-based Mirage Navigation Corporation and is managed by Polembros Shipping Limited. Sentencing has been set for 14 October.

Read the full story at link.


Work to Eradicate Brazilian Pepper Threat

PONTE VEDRA BEACH – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM Research Reserve) is partnering with St. Johns County Environmental Division, the Friends of GTM Reserve, members of the South Anastasia Community Association (SACA) and the northeast Florida Student Conservation Association (SCA) to eradicate Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolia) and other invasive plants that are beginning to displace native vegetation on barrier islands in St. Johns County.

“The GTM Research Reserve and St. Johns County Environmental Division are working aggressively to prevent the spread of the Brazilian pepper plant within the ecosystems of St. Johns County,” said GTM Research Reserve Stewardship Coordinator Forrest Penny. “By partnering with the Friends of GTM Reserve, the SACA and the northeast Florida SCA we are able to work as a team and take the appropriate actions to control the invasive plant by cutting it down and spraying the stump with herbicide." [...]

Read the full story at link.


How the invaders got here: "Pandora's Locks"

North Country Public Radio

The Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Seaway’s 50th anniversary has inspired a number of new books about the waterway. One blames the federal government, not the shipping industry, for the invasion of foreign species into the Great Lakes that has cost the region billions of dollars. The Environment Report's Lester Graham talks with author Jeff Alexander about his new book, Pandora's Locks. [...]

Read the full story at link.


Invasives brochure for the Potomac River watershed

The Nature Conservancy of MD/DC has available many of their new invasives brochure--it features 10 of the worst invaders around the Potomac River watershed (and is applicable to PA, NJ, DE, MD, VA, WV and beyond) and also has a handy insert card with alternatives to invasives for folks planning gardens or heading to their local nurseries. The link is below for download--if you would like hard copies, contact TNC.
They also have recently updated the Good Neighbor Handbook (Tips and Tools for River Friendly Living) and you can download it, or request copies from TNC:
Mary Travaglini
Potomac Gorge Habitat Restoration Manager
The Nature Conservancy of MD/DC


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