Monday, October 12, 2009

Week of October 12, 2009

Updated 10/17. Newest articles are at the bottom of the post.

Goats help planned rec center take a bite toward progress

Animals clear the weeds for planned recreation, environmental center in city's Druid Hill Park

By Meredith Cohn,

goatsThe decrepit mansion once served as home to the president of the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, but two decades of brush has grown and, along with vandals, has made it uninhabitable.

Cue the goats.

In what's the first step to a $10 million project to transform this piece of Druid Hill Park into an environmental and recreational center for the city, the four-legged weed whackers have cleared a half-acre ring of ivy and other invasive species. The herd of 40 will be brought back to clear the rest of the 9-acre parcel that few have used, legally anyway, for years.

"It's been an eyesore and has all sorts of unsavory activity going on," said Jean DuBose, director of development and promotions for the Parks & People Foundation, a Baltimore nonprofit group that has undertaken the project. "Most people don't even know it's part of the park. But soon it will be a great resource in the city." [...]

To get started, and even get near the mansion, the foundation needed to clear the overgrowth. Human labor might have been too expensive. The fastest and cheapest way to clear brush would have been herbicide, said Brian Knox, the supervising forester for Ec

o-Goats, the Davidsonville-based firm that supplies the herd. [...] The eco-friendly goats cost about $300 for the first half-acre. [...]

Read the full story at link.


What if tree-killing bugs chomp Adirondack Forest Preserve?

By MIKE LYNCH, Adirondack Daily Enterprise Outdoors Writer

RAY BROOK, NY - State officials are grappling with how to best proceed if tree-killing forest pests reach the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve, and it appears a constitutional amendment is low on their priority list.

One of the main methods for getting rid of pests such as the Asian longhorned beetle has been to cut down the trees and chip the wood to small pieces. This method raises legal questions here in the Park because Article XIV of the state Constitution prohibits the cutting of live trees and removal of timber on the Forest Preserve.

Because of the legal complexities, a collection of state officials, scientists and environmental advocates called the Forest Preserve Advisory Committee has been studying the issue.

"There was a consensus among group members that a constitutional amendment would be a last resort," said Rob Davies, director of lands and forests for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. "I think there was a reluctance to the idea of a constitutional amendment, to try to address ahead of time a forest invasion in the Forest Preserve."

Davies was speaking to the state Adirondack Park Agency Thursday during a special presentation on invasive species. He said the Asian longhorned beetle, because of its ability to kill most hardwood trees including maples, could be the most devastating to the Park. This beetle is not new to New York, however; outbreaks of it have been seen in the New York City area since 1996.

The emerald ash borer, on the other hand, is quickly spreading eastward from the Midwest and wiping out ash trees as it goes. Only 2 percent of the Adirondack Park's trees are ash, state officials say, but the ash borer's speed is raising awareness of the danger posed by all invasive tree pests.

Davies said the committee recommended a revision of currently existing guidelines for fighting invasive species and also amending the DEC's incident command system for responding to emergencies should be done first; he expects work will begin on this soon.

Amending the State Land Master Plan is another consideration.

Davies said one reason a constitutional amendment is not considered a good strategy is that it requires two successful votes of the state Legislature and also passage by the people in a statewide general election. A pest could show up in the Forest Preserve well before such an endeavor is undertaken.

"I think there was a recognition that the timing of a constitutional amendment doesn't work," Davies said. "We could have emerald ash borer here next week or next year. You're not going to have a constitutional amendment for years."

Plus, Davies said, the DEC could fight tree-killing pests with the current laws. Davis said there is enough legal precedent to cut trees and take other measures on the Forest Preserve in cases where it is necessary to save the forest.

"The fact that we don't have a constitutional amendment in hand today doesn't stop us from taking action tomorrow," Davies said.

He did say that a constitutional amendment may be considered as part of a long-term strategy.

Another reason from shying away from the constitutional amendment was that the committee members were concerned they could do more harm than good by revising Article XIV.

But APA Commissioner Lani Ulrich, of Old Forge, expressed concern that perhaps the group was limiting their options and suggested "possibly expanding the folks that are around that table and having that conversation again."

"I'm concerned about what kind of Forest Preserve we would have left if we didn't have every (tool) to fight this," Ulrich said.

Steve Sanford, director of the DEC's office of invasive species coordination, defended the decision to not immediately pursue a constitutional amendment. He told the APA he originally favoring such an action but changed his mind.

"I gave heed to the judgment of a lot of veterans in the room who said, 'You're opening Pandora's Box. We could wind up with an Article XIV that is less useful than the one that exists today,'" Sanford said.

Read the story at link.


Invasives a growing threat to Adirondacks

North Country Public Radio

Adirondack Park Agency commissioners were given a status report yesterday on what’s considered to be the biggest threat to the ecology of the Adirondacks.

Invasive species like milfoil and phragmities are spreading fast throughout the Park, clogging waterways and taking over wetlands.

Hillary Smith is director of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program. “This threat of invasive species is worsening,” she said. “I saw a real window of opportunity in the Adirondacks and even in my short time here that window is closing. There still are lots of opportunities for us. But the reality is the situation is very much an urgent one and it’s a growing problem.”

Within the last two weeks, an invasive called spiny water flea, which can ruin fisheries, was found in Great Sacandaga Lake and Peck’s Lake, both in the southern Adirondacks. A record number of yellow iris, which invades wetlands, were also found in the Park this year. And milfoil infestations spread to more Adirondack lakes, including Lake Placid.

Smith said their ability to fight back and eradicate invasives is being put to the test. “With every new invasive that makes it through the borders,” she said, “we have an increasing demand for management, increasing demand for spread prevention measures and increasing demand for resources that we all know are very tight at this time.”

Last year the state created an Office of Invasive Species Coordination within the Department of Environmental Conservation.

But the program’s director, Steve Sanford, told agency commissioners that funding for the effort was less than promised. And he said the money was tied up in a battle over the state’s Environmental Protection Fund. “We had planned to be able to spend $5 million, the trouble is there’s only $3 million we can use,” he said. “We had to make some decisions yesterday about what we’re going to go forward with. It’s not where we hoped to be, but at least the faucet’s back on again it was shut off for 11 months.”

Thursday’s meeting also included discussion of the emerald Ash borer and the Asian longhorn beetle, which threaten Adirondack forests. DEC Lands and Forests Director Rob Davies says so far the insects haven’t been found in the Park.

But he said their impact on the region’s ecosystem and economy could be devastating, “As you can imagine, the longer the pest is around, the greater the risk it is going to get out, it is going to impact our maple sugar industry and get into maple sugar stands.”

Removing infected trees could be difficult in the forest preserve if an outbreak occurs, because of environmental rules. Davies said the DEC is working to come up with new rules and guidelines for fighting invasives in the Park.

Read the story and listen to audio at link.


Announcement and Call for Abstracts
for the 17th International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species

This is an announcement and call for abstracts of oral presentations and posters for the 17th International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species that is being hosted by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and held at the Westin San Diego, San Diego, California from August 29 to September 2, 2010. Please note that the abstract submission deadline is Friday, December 11, 2009.

The early registration deadline for the conference is June 25, 2010.

Elizabeth Muckle-Jeffs
Conference Administrator
The Professional Edge
1027 Pembroke Street East, Suite 200
Pembroke, ON K8A 3M4 Canada

Email: elizabeth[at]


New invasives positions at the Institute for Regional Conservation

For information, contact Keith A. Bradley, bradley[at]REGIONALCONSERVATION.ORG

Institute for Regional Conservation
22601 S.W. 152 Avenue
Miami, Florida 33170


Great Lakes group seeks action against carp threat


A coalition of Great Lakes protection groups called today for emergency action to prevent flooding in the Des Plaines River, where Asian carp have invaded and which sits 100 feet from an electric barrier to keep the carp out of Lake Michigan.

Sandbags or concrete barriers need to be put up along the river to prevent the carp from escaping from the river into the canal above the barrier, the groups said.

"This is a natural disaster waiting to happen,” said Jennifer Nalbone of Great Lakes United. “We need to respond to it like we would respond to a hurricane."

The urgent threat is that heavy rains, such as those the region experienced in September 2008, could flood the river enough that the carp could jump into the canal above an electric barrier, giving them free access to the Great Lakes. The ferocious silver carp grow to 100 pounds, threaten boaters and jet-skiers by leaping out of the water and injuring them, and could destroying the food web in the Great Lakes because they’re voracious eaters. They escaped from southern fish farms decades ago and have made their way to the edge of the Great Lakes. [...]

Read the full story at link.


Report Documents the Risks of Giant Invasive Snakes in the U.S.

DOI. United States Geological Survey.

Five giant non-native snake species would pose high risks to the health of ecosystems in the United States should they become established here, according to a USGS report released. The report details the risks of nine non-native boa, anaconda and python species that are invasive or potentially invasive in the U.S. Because all nine species share characteristics associated with greater risks, none was found to be a low ecological risk. Two of these species are documented as reproducing in the wild in South Florida, with population estimates for Burmese pythons in the tens of thousands.

Read the full story and the report at link.


Thirty Groups Join Together to Harvest the Seeds of Change

Effort Underway to Restore Long Island’s Native Grasslands and the Wildlife they Support and Make Plants Commercially Available to Public

Riverhead, NY — October 15, 2009 — The Long Island Native Grassland Initiative (LINGI), an organization of more than 30 non-profit organizations, governmental agencies, and nursery professionals, including The Nature Conservancy, harvested the "seeds of change" today in Riverhead. The group, which has been restoring Long Island’s declining native grasslands for the wildlife species that depend on them, gathered seeds from mature plants which will be used to propagate next year’s crop.

Grasslands and the birds and wildlife that depend on them are the single most threatened habitat on earth due to development and the encroachment of invasive plant species. [...]

“Until now, it’s been difficult, if not impossible to find local native grasses for sale,” said project lead Polly Weigand, Soil District Technician for Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District. “Our ultimate goal is to provide a source of native plant material –as an alternative to cultivars and hybrid plants –for use in landscaping, restoration, grassland establishment, roadside plantings, biofuel programs, and nurseries.” [...]

Read the article at link.


A downloadable resource that may be of interest to some of you

A Best Management Practices Handbook

Lyn A. Gettys, William T. Haller and Marc Bellaud, editors

Prepared by:
Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Foundation
3272 Sherman Ridge Rd
Marietta, GA 30064

Ann Bove
Aquatic Invasive Species Management
(802) 241-3782

This message is brought to you as a service of the Northeast Aquatic Nuisance Species Panel.


Update on Maine hydrilla infestation

Here is an update concerning the recent discovery of hydrilla in Damariscotta Lake, Maine.

· DEP divers have installed benthic barriers on patches of hydrilla that have spread to the cove just outside of the infested lagoon. No tubers have been detected on the plants outside of the lagoon.

· DEP is currently placing stone riprap across both entrances to the infested lagoon to create a strong physical barrier between the infestation and the rest of the lake.

· This week, DEP will begin the process of manually removing and disposing of the hydrilla in the infested lagoon.

· Roberta Scruggs has written an excellent article on the hydrilla infestation in the recent issue of the LEA Milfoil Update newsletter. To view the article on line please visit

· According to Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association’s Alice Phillips, “Volunteers have come out of the woodwork to help survey the lake and help us determine if there are any other infested areas. Roughly 50% of the lake has now been surveyed. We are so appreciative of the help!”

· Forty individuals have answered DLWA’s call for help. Members of the DLWA survey team include trained VLMP Invasive Plant Patrollers and others from the Damariscotta Lake area, plus a cadre of certified Plant Patrollers from ”away.” To date no additional invasive plants have been observed.

· This year’s survey season is swiftly fading, but we may be lucky and get a few more days of prime survey weather. WE ARE STILL LOOKING FOR TRAINED PLANT PATROLLERS TO ASSIST WITH THIS SURVEY. If you think you can help, please contact Alice Phillips at DLWA, dlwastaff[at]

· There are other ways you can get involved. Is your lake community actively working to prevent the spread of aquatic invaders? Do you have a “well oiled” system in place for detecting aquatic invaders as soon as possible after introduction? If the answer to either of these questions is no, please contact the VLMP at vlmp[at] today. We look forward to working with you!

Thanks again!

Roberta Hill
Program Director
Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program's Center for Invasive Aquatic Plants

Below is the previous announcement, dated September 28, 2009:

Dear Maine Lake Monitors:

I am writing to inform you of Maine’s latest confirmed invasive aquatic plant infestation. Hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata) has now been confirmed in Damariscotta Lake. Hydrilla, often referred to as the “worst of the worst” invasive aquatic plant threatening aquatic ecosystems worldwide, was discovered in a small cove along the western shore of Damariscotta Lake, by Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association (DLWA) member and VLMP Invasive Plant Patroller, Dick Butterfield. There is no way of knowing at present, how widespread this plant may be in the lake, but a preliminary survey of nearby coves uncovered no additional invasive plants, providing hope that Mr. Butterfield may have detected the pioneer colony.

This is the kind of discovery that all Plant Patrollers train and practice for, but dread the thought of ever actually making. On the good side, this discovery provides clear and concrete evidence of the effectiveness and value of citizen based lake monitoring. Maine’s early detection system, largely powered by trained and dedicated volunteers, is saving Maine lakes. Here is a brief summary of how things have unfolded to date:

September 20 – Dick Butterfield gathered his gear, slipped into his kayak and began the task of surveying the shoreline to the north and south of his property on the west side of the lake. At one point, he paddled into a small (0.3 acre) shallow cove, and was instantly alerted to something that “was not right.” A dense carpet of plants filled the cove. According to Dick, the growth was so dense it looked “solid enough to walk on.” Using the identification keys he received with his Invasive Plant Patrol training, Dick soon came to the realization that he may have come upon one of the invasive plants of concern. He carefully bagged a sample and sent it to the VLMP for confirmation.

September 22 - Dick’s plant specimen is received by the VLMP, and its identification is tentatively confirmed.

September 23 - Maine Department of Environmental (DEP) and VLMP staff meet on site with Dick and partners from Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association to conduct a preliminary assessment of the infestation and to collect more samples for a confirmed identification.

September 24 - DEP divers install containment screens across the mouth of the infested cove to prevent hydrilla fragments from migrating into greater Damariscotta Lake. VLMP and DLWA begin to mobilize trained Invasive Plant Patrollers from Damariscotta Lake and elsewhere in the state to begin monitoring nearby coves to determine the scope of hydrilla in the lake.

This is where you come in . . . WE URGENTLY NEED YOUR HELP!! There are not many days left in the season to conduct surveys. Please call VLMP at 783-7733 or or Alice Phillips at DLWA (549-3836, today to learn how you can get involved.

Only one other water body in the state, Pickerel Pond in Limerick, is infested with hydrilla. In total, 31 out of Maine’s 5,700 ponds and lakes are known to contain an invasive aquatic plant species.

Since the first Invasive Plant Patrol workshop was offered by the VLMP in 2001, Over 2000 individuals have been trained through the program. Trained IPP volunteers are responsible for the majority of all invasive aquatic plant screening surveys being conducted in the State of Maine. The VLMP’s Invasive Plant Patrol Program is funded by boater participation in Maine’s Lake and River Sticker Program and private donations.

Thank you all, for keeping your eyes on the plants.

Roberta Hill
Program Director
Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program's Center for Invasive Aquatic Plants


Invasive vines assault East Coast beaches

By Oren Dorell, USA TODAY

beachvitexA fast-growing vine imported from Korea to stop massive erosion of sand dunes — home to sea turtle hatchlings and such shore birds as plovers — is destroying dunes in the Carolinas and threatens to creep into beaches up and down the East Coast.

The beach vitex, a woody plant with waxy leaves and a pretty purple flower, was planted widely along the Carolina coast after Hurricane Hugo ravaged beaches and dunes in 1989.

States wanted to act fast because, aside from being a nesting site for shore birds, dunes help hold back storm waters.

The vine proliferated, but there were unforeseen consequences. The plant's thickness harms nestlings, and its shallow root system fails to hold dunes together.

"They really flubbed it on this one," said Randy Westbrooks, an invasive-species prevention specialist for U.S. Geological Survey.

Beach vitex was promoted by J.C. Raulston, then-director of the North Carolina State University arboretum, because it thrives on nutrient-poor, sandy soils and grows fast. With an average growth rate of 60 feet a year, the vine can completely cover dune systems, said Melanie Doyle, a horticulturist at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

Betsy Brabson, an artist and sea turtle advocate in Georgetown, S.C., said beach vitex with all its vines and runners creates such a tight network that sea turtles can't nest.

"I don't want something like beach vitex to cover the dunes for miles and miles and then we have no sea turtles," said Brabson, who heads the South Carolina Beach Vitex Task Force.

And, unlike the native sea oats and other grasses that people are used to seeing on dunes, beach vitex doesn't help dunes grow into a high barrier against storm surges, Doyle said.

This year the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services declared the plant a "noxious weed," banning it from being sold or planted.

Crews have fanned out across coastal North and South Carolina to eradicate it, cutting the plants with machetes and dabbing them with a herbicide.

Indications are that the eradication may be tougher than first thought.

Isolated strands of the vine have been found in Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

Members of the Beach Vitex Task Force thought they were on the road to victory against the invader until a "real bombshell" was discovered in Maryland, said Lee Rosenberg, environmental services manager for Norfolk, Va.

This month, a U.S. Park Service biologist reported beach vitex in the Maryland side of Assateague Island National Seashore, home to about 300 wild ponies. Westbrooks suggests that the plant's seeds are transported by ocean currents.

Rosenberg said he believes migratory birds are behind the propagation.

"That means any area north and south is subject to being colonized by beach vitex just by seeds being brought by birds," Rosenberg said. [...]

Read the full story at link.

Photo by Hyunsoo Leo Kim, The (Norfolk, Va.) Virginian-Pilot, via, AP.


New U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Invasive Species Policy


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