Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Week of July 27, 2009

Two New York communities take very different approaches to tackling invasive milfoil

By John Stith / The Post Standard

diversCazenovia and Skaneateles face the same problem -- an infestation of Eurasian milfoil, an invasive species that roots in shallow water and causes problems for boaters and swimmers.

Like many communities across the state, Cazenovia and Skaneateles had to decide how to get rid of the weedy plant. They could pull it out by hand, zap it with chemicals, bring in bugs or fish that eat it or put down mats that keep it from growing.

Cazenovia hit it with a herbicide. Skaneateles is pulling it out, one plant at a time.

Why the different approaches?

Cazenovia Lake is one-eighth the size of Skaneateles Lake, but the extent of its milfoil infestation is eight times larger. Hand-pulling would have cost an estimated $17 million. The herbicide treatment started this summer will cost about $450,000.

Skaneateles' effort to yank the weeds by hand is labor-intensive -- six boats and 30 divers are involved in the effort -- and expensive, costing about $1.2 million. But weeding by hand ensures that the plants are removed completely.

Both communities decided against mechanical harvesting, which uses blades to cut the milfoil off 4 to 5 feet below the surface. The process chops the weed into small pieces, which can drift off, root in the lake bottom and grow anew. Cazenovia in the past depended on mechanical harvesting.

The two communities are not alone in battling milfoil, according to state environmental officials.

In New York, milfoil has been found in the Hudson River, Lake Champlain and lakes in the Adirondacks and the Finger Lakes region. It's found in 17 states, largely along the Great Lakes and the West Coast, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"It's big, and it's widespread," said Leslie Surprenant, invasive species management coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The weed, which forms dense mats on the water surface, makes swimming and boating difficult or impossible and upsets the lake ecology, interfering with natural siltation and raising the nutrient level of the water, which encourages the growth of algae.

In 2006 and 2007, the state awarded $2.4 million in grants to municipalities and not-for-profit organizations for aquatic eradication projects, with about half of that money going to milfoil projects. The grant program has been suspended this year while the state grapples with its fiscal crisis.

Cazenovia Lake

The milfoil infestation in Cazenovia Lake was far worse than in Skaneateles Lake. The relatively shallow waters of Cazenovia Lake proved ideal for milfoil, and decades of mechanical harvesting had done little to control the weed.

"There were a number of us who believe the harvesting program was doing more harm than good," said Preston Gilbert, president of the Cazenovia Lake Association. The association is made up of residents from across the community, he said, and is not just a lake property owners group.

Last fall, a summit of sorts brought town and village officials, residents and experts together to look at alternatives. They chose to go with a herbicide, which would eliminate the milfoil without harming native plants and fish and other water animals, Gilbert said.

He said the town took on the task of getting approval from the state. The village committed to a monitoring program to inspect every boat entering the lake. Residents of the communities responded with donations to cover the cost.

"Everybody just committed to doing something," he said.

Within seven months, the town received state permission to use the herbicide, and the week of June 8 the lake was treated with Triclopyr.

"It's gone exceptionally well," Gilbert said.

Swimming was prohibited immediately after the application but has since been allowed, and a ban on drinking lake water ended earlier this month.

About half of the 234 acres infestation were treated. The remainder will be done next year, with spot treatments in 2011.

Skaneateles Lake

Skaneateles is in the third year of what will probably be a four-year effort to rid about 30 acres of milfoil. So far, about 20 acres have been weeded by hand.

"It's the only way to ensure that you permanently get something out," said John Menapace, project manager for the milfoil eradication project, which is doing the actual weeding for the Tri-County Skaneateles Lake Pure Water Association.

"You can visually see what's going on," he said. "You can grab the plant. You know you've taken it away."

The project started in 2006 with a small test patch, Menapace said, and the technique showed promise. Herbicides were not the answer for Skaneateles, since the lake is a public water supply for several communities, including Syracuse.

"We looked at all the different methods before we started this project and decided this would be the best for Skaneateles Lake," he said.

The full-fledged effort started in 2007 and continued in 2008 and again this year.

"There isn't any regrowth on anything that we've done," Menapace said. "There are some odds and ends that we missed that we will go back over."

Some areas of the lake bottom were too rocky to be weeded. Instead, divers laid down a mat, similar to landscaping fabric, to stifle growth.

The project needs about $200,000 to $300,000 to complete the job, and the Tri-County Association is in the midst of a fund-raising drive.

Long-term solution

Once the milfoil is brought under control, both lakes will need annual maintenance to keep the weed in check.

"We feel for a long-term project like that it should be institutionalized," said Bob Werner of Skaneateles, a retired professor from the State University of Environmental Science and Forestry and treasurer of the Tri-County Association. "That is to say there would be a commitment from the county, the city of Syracuse -- because it's their water supply -- the towns that surround the lake. Whatever entities are appropriate."

Gilbert said the recently formed Cazenovia Lake Watershed Council will take a lead role in safeguarding the lake in the future through monitoring, introducing biological controls like moths and weevils, and, in some case, hand-pulling.

"We're not done just because we've got milfoil out of the lake," Gilbert said.

The village will continue its boat inspection program, Gilbert said, at a cost of about $30,000 a year. The Lake Association was spending about $50,000 annually on mechanical harvesting, he said, and some of money would be available to pay for monitoring.

The town spent $40,000 this year on the herbicide treatment and plans to spend another $40,000 next year. Gilbert said he expects the town to budget money each year for monitoring.

He said any long-term monitoring will keep watch for other invasive species to check them before they become established in the lake.

"One of the things that's a major concern to Cazenovia Lake and all the other lakes in Upstate New York is there are some 130 invasive plants out there," he said.

Photo by . Liam Wilson, of Skaneateles, dives into Skaneateles Lake while diver Carrie Harkins of Baldwinsville monitors the equipment. Divers are digging up milfoil by hand. The divers rotate in one and a half hour intervals. The crews on each of the three boats cover about 1,000 square feet a day. The removal program is expected to take four years.


New York implements quarantine to prevent spread of emerald ash borer

NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets

New York State is implementing a quarantine to prevent the spread of the invasive Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), a tree-killing beetle. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) are establishing a quarantine encompassing Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties that will restrict the movement of ash trees, ash products, and firewood from all wood species in order to limit the potential introduction of EAB to other areas of the state.

The state’s quarantine order will require restrictions on the intrastate movement of certain “regulated articles” – for instance, ash trees, certain wood products, and the Emerald Ash Borer. The order specifically defines regulated articles as:

· Entire ash trees of any size, inclusive of nursery stock.

· Any part of ash trees, including leaves, bark, stumps, limbs, branches, and roots.

· Ash lumber or ash logs of any length.

· Any item made from or containing ash wood.

· Any article, product or means of conveyance determined by APHIS, NYSDAM or the Department to present a risk of spreading the EAB infestation.

· Firewood from any tree species.

· Wood chips and bark mulch from any tree species, larger than 1 inch in two dimensions, whether composted or uncomposted.

New York’s order prohibits the movement of regulated articles within and beyond Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties without certification or compliance agreements issued by DAM. The state order also restricts the movement of the regulated wood products into or through the quarantine district by requiring several provisions including, but not limited to documentation listing the origin and destination of shipments, and prohibiting transporters from unnecessarily stopping while traveling through the quarantine district. The full order will be posted at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/47761.html on the DEC website.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will issue a parallel quarantine. Currently, federal EAB quarantine areas restricting the interstate movement of regulated articles are in 12 states: Illinois; Indiana; Kentucky; Maryland; Michigan; Minnesota; Missouri; Ohio; Pennsylvania; Virginia; West Virginia; and Wisconsin. Federally regulated articles (which differ slightly from New York’s list above) include ash nursery stock and green lumber, any other ash material including logs, stumps, roots, branches, as well as composted and uncomposted wood chips. Due to the difficulty in distinguishing between species of hardwood firewood, all hardwood firewood, including ash, oak, maple and hickory are federally regulated articles. [...]

DEC is continuing to enforce regulations that govern the movement of firewood. There is a state ban on untreated firewood entering New York and a restriction covering intrastate movement of untreated firewood to no more than a 50-mile radius from its source. This was enacted in 2008 as a precaution against the introduction and spread of EAB and other invasive species because of the documented risk of transmission by moving firewood. More information can be found at http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/28722.html on the DEC website. [...]

For more information, visit the following web pages: www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/emerald_ash_b/index.shtml http://www.agmkt.state.ny.us/CAPS/pdf/Emerald%20Ash%20Borer%20Poster.pdf



NJ strike team declares war on invasive plants

By Veronica Slaght/For The Star-Ledger

The strike team's mission: search and destroy.

The target: invasive plants.

New Jersey is under attack. Flowers, shrubs and weeds brought here from foreign shores are pushing out native plants and damaging delicate ecosystems.

Invasive species are the number two threat to biodiversity worldwide, second only to outright habitat destruction, according to Melissa Almendinger, invasive species coordinator at the Upper Raritan Watershed Association.

"There are some native plants that are just lost," Almendinger said. "On a global level, we're creating a monoculture."

However, not all exotic plants are invasive, Almendinger said, only those that grow densely and exclude other species over large areas. But, she added, all non-native plants have that potential.

Of the 1,000 foreign plants that have been introduced to the state, 30 are classified as "widespread" invasives, including the familiar shrubs multiflora rose and Japanese barberry.
Another 71 have been identified as "emerging" invasives. And, the rate of new plant introductions continues to rise, Almendinger said.

The recently formed Central Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team is searching for and identifying these new invasives in Hunterdon, Morris, Mercer and Somerset counties. Their job is to eliminate them before they spread out of control, Almendinger said.

She is leading the effort, with URWA staff and volunteers from the Friends of Hopewell Valley Open Space in Mercer County. The team has 37 other partners that include their land in the project and contribute labor.

The strike team's method is called early detection and rapid response.

First, volunteers head into a field armed with GPS units, plant identification books and cameras. They collect data and enter it onto a map. Then, Almendinger or volunteers return and cut down the plant. She said she sometimes places herbicide directly onto the stump to ensure its destruction.

The strike team faces an especially big job this fall right in its own backyard. Members plan to eradicate 2,000 linden viburnum -- a landscaping plant with white flowers and red berries -- that have overtaken its Bedminster heaadquarters' driveway.

The team's mission has been lauded by Kathleen Salisbury, president of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey.

"I think the work they're doing is especially significant because they're trying to identify the up-and-coming invasive plants," Salisbury said. Instead of hacking away at things that are already out of control, "they're trying to nip it in the bud," she said. "There's nobody else in the state that I know of that's doing anything like that." [...]

Some people are surprised that an organization committed to environmental conservation supports deer hunting, Almendinger said. She said she responds by saying that supporting deer hunting is actually saving the lives of other animals.

After the state's deer herd is cut back, "the hope is that eventually native plants will be able to fight back on their own," she added.

Anyone interested in volunteering with the strike team or learning more about invasive plants
can contact Almendinger at (908) 234-1852 or visit www.cjisst.org.

Read the full story at link


Oxford University Press releases new books on invasive species

The new books are Bioeconomics of Invasive Species edited by Reuben P. Keller, David M. Lodge, Mark A. Lewis and Jason F. Shogren and Invasion Biology by Mark Davis.

“Bioeconomics… promises great benefits for policy and management because, currently, bioeconomic methods are not well developed. This book also reviews available methods, and includes many of the advances made by the group of authors.”

“Invasion Biology was written fifty years after the publication of Elton's pioneering monograph on the subject and provides a comprehensive and up-to-date review of the science of biological invasions while also offering new insights and perspectives relating to the processes of introduction, establishment, and spread.”


No comments: