Monday, October 26, 2009

Week of October 26, 2009

Updated 10/29/09. Latest news is at the bottom of the post.

Brazilian water-weed success story from Washington State



Officials hope they've finally eradicated a noxious plant choking a stretch of the Chehalis River in south Thurston County, WA more than 10 years after it was discovered there.

The Thurston County Noxious Weed Control Board completed the annual removal of Brazilian elodea (Egeria densa) from the salmon-bearing river at the end of September and could find no remaining trace of the plant.

It will continue to monitor the river, and the plant will be deemed eradicated if there’s no evidence of its return in the next three years, said Rick Johnson, Thurston County’s noxious weed coordinator.

“We’re thrilled we’re in front of it instead of playing catch-up,” he said.

Brazilian elodea is a pesky plant. Rooting in waters up to 20 feet deep, the dark-green, fast-growing plant forms dense mats of stems and leaves near the water’s surface.

It blocks fish passage and lowers dissolved oxygen by slowing movement in the water, which concerned officials. In 2007, in the midst of an aggressive removal project, dissolved oxygen levels in the river increased about 8 percent after the removal, according to the board.


Brazilian elodea, native to South America, once was a popular aquarium plant. The state has since banned its sale.

Officials suspect someone dumped the contents of an aquarium into Plummer Lake in Lewis County. Johnson said aquarium gravel was discovered in the lake near the boat launch. The plant eventually flowed into the Chehalis River and took root in the slow-moving stretch of the river near Prather Road.

The plant was discovered in 1998 during a survey in search of other problem weeds.

Thurston County began removing individual plants a year later. Individual hand removal was deemed impractical after several years because the infestation grew too large.


Dive teams were used to help remove the plant beginning in 2004. The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, state Department of Natural Resources and state Department of Ecology contributed funding. Johnson estimated that removal work has cost $200,000.

The Chehalis Indian Tribe, state Salmon Recovery Funding Board and Nature Conservancy assisted in the effort.


At its peak, the plant infested 35 acres of the river, Johnson said. Divers removed the remaining 8 acres of the plant this season. He estimated that 300,000 pounds of the plant have been removed.

It is the only location in Thurston County infested with Brazilian elodea, officials said.

Gene Little, the weed board’s chairman, said in a news release that the removal project is a lesson about how much damage one thoughtless act can do, as well as about the need to educate people about invasive species.

“But there’s also a very positive lesson about how, when government agencies, tribes and nonprofit citizens organizations collaborate, we can make things right in our rivers and our environment,” he said.

Read the story at link.

Story sent by Janet Andersen


New Regulations Proposed by U.S. Department of Agriculture to Help Stem the Tide of Non-Native Pests

Four hundred non-native insects and plant diseases are wreaking havoc across North America

ARLINGTON, VA — October 15, 2009 —The Nature Conservancy, working with industry partners and scientists, is supporting revamped regulations proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to improve its ongoing efforts to block non-native insects and diseases from entering the country and protect American homeowners, businesses, agriculture and native trees.

First adopted in 1918, U.S. regulations governing international trade in plants have remained fundamentally unchanged as this trade has mushroomed to at least 500 million plants imported each year. The U.S. government is accepting public comments until Oct. 21 on the revised rules.

“The USDA’s proposed regulations are a vital step in the right direction. The rules will do more to prevent foreign insects and pathogens from entering the country, rather than have citizens, business owners, and communities bear the costly burden of controlling an invasion,” says Frank Lowenstein, director of the Conservancy’s Forest Health Program.

Industry and conservationists are uniting ahead of the change in plant import regulations by launching a new educational campaign, Plant Smart, to encourage careful planting and to support actions that result in better protection of America’s trees from harmful foreign species.

“The nursery industry faces huge costs both to control the pests and in loss of sales and other interruptions,” says Jerry Lee, Environmental Services Manager at Monrovia, a nursery that supplies more than 5,000 garden centers nationwide. “When our company was hit by the Sudden Oak Death pathogen, we suffered tremendous business interruptions and expense. Had the pest never been introduced from outside the United States, this all could have been prevented.”

New plant pest introductions are detected at a rate of one every 12 days. Some of these threaten America’s trees, adding to the burden of the approximately 400 tree pests already established.
If implemented, the USDA rules would create a new category called NAPPRA (Not Authorized for Importation Pending Pest Risk Assessment), under which the nation could quickly stop
import of some problem plants until procedures can be implemented to ensure they are safe.

The USDA, industry and conservationists agree that stronger federal regulations are needed on plant imports. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is the primary agency tasked with preventing the entry of potentially invasive pests and pathogens through nursery plant imports and other pathways. Without updated regulations, homeowners, horticulture and timber-related businesses, forest land owners, and governments all face billions of dollars in lost revenues or costs to control the pests.

“Invasive foreign pests and diseases are scarring landscapes in neighborhoods, city parks, ski slopes and hiking trails, and killing the trees that bring us maple syrup, fine furniture and Major League Baseball bats,” says Faith Campbell, senior policy representative at the Conservancy. “Often it is simply impossible to control them once the pests are established, so we need better regulations in place to prevent invasive insects and diseases from entering the country.”

Of 25 extremely damaging forest pests introduced since the mid-1800s, 18 are believed to have arrived on imported plants — including sudden oak death, the citrus longhorned beetle, chestnut blight and the cycad blue butterfly (the caterpillar of which feeds on tropical cycads).

Because the pests and diseases arrive on live hosts, they can survive a relatively long time. In many cases, they live long enough to arrive at a nursery, where they can spread to other plants and end up in places where it is a short hop to local forests. These invaders are taking a disastrous toll on ecosystems from dying oak trees in California's woodlands to the standing ghosts of dead Fraser fir on North Carolina peaks.

How to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive foreign pests and diseases:

• Write to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in support of the new rules, or call 1-877-378-5457 for assistance.

• Ask your local nursery how they keep their plants free of invasive insects and diseases, and let them know you support those practices.

• Ask your local nursery staff for help identifying invasive plants so they won’t become a problem for your yard or local trees.

• Learn to identify invasive forest pests. If you spot an invasive pest or disease on trees in your community, click here to learn how to report it.

• Clean your boots before you hike in a new area to avoid spreading harmful weed seeds and diseases such as sudden oak death.

• Don't "pack a pest" when traveling. Fruits and vegetables, plants, insects and animals can carry pests or become invasive themselves. Don't move firewood or cuttings or live plants more than 50 miles (it can harbor forest pests) and throw out food before you travel from place to place.

• If you’ve experienced the destruction of invasive pests, either in your yard or while exploring the forest, send us your story and photographs for possible publication.

• Volunteer at your local park, refuge or other wildlife area to help remove invasive species. Help educate others about the threat.

• Support the Conservancy’s work to protect trees.

If you work in the nursery industry:

• Join the Plant Smart campaign to help protect your business and America’s trees.

• Write to the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in support of better regulations that prevent the importation of harmful species.

• Ask your suppliers about best management practices they have adopted to reduce this risk.

To learn more about the Plant Smart campaign and for tips on how the nursery industry and consumers can help prevent the spread of invasive foreign pests, visit in the coming weeks.

Read the article at link.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide.

The Continental Dialogue on Non-Native Forest Insects and Diseases is a group of organizations and individuals that cultivates and catalyzes collaborative action among diverse interests to abate the threat to North American forests from non-native insects and diseases.


Invasive plants plague land, too in Vermont

By Dorothy Pellett, Free Press correspondent

If it seems as though you’ve been hearing the words “invasive plants” more often in 2008 and 2009, you’re probably right — and a growing number of Vermonters hope everyone has been listening.

Sharon Plumb is invasive species coordinator with The Nature Conservancy in Vermont. Her job is to broaden the scope of knowledge about why we should care about invasive plants and what we can do about them, specifically about terrestrial plants — those that grow on land.

“Other groups were working with aquatic invasives, but no one was doing terrestrials,” Plumb said.

Now, the state is considering adding three popular plants to a quarantine list, prohibiting their sale and distribution.

What’s the trouble? Plumb cites an area where barberry became rampant at Hildene, the historic Lincoln family home in Manchester.

“In 24 acres of sugarbush, the entire understory is barberry,” she said. “It is a rich northern hardwood forest. There should have been sugar maple, white ash, basswood, black cherry, hophornbeam and beech seedlings and saplings, maidenhair fern, wild leeks, blue cohosh, hepatica and wild ginger. The carpet of 4-foot-high barberry, extending for acres and acres, prevented sunlight from reaching the floor.

“The others cannot survive in those conditions,” Plumb said.

In the past year, in partnership with the statewide Vermont Invasive Exotic Plant Committee, she has held 50 workshops to spread the message of damage done by invasive plants and to demonstrate their control. She works with conservation commissions, school groups, garden clubs and nonprofit organizations.

This month, she spent three days at Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich with students from Hartford Career and Technology Center and other volunteers, removing buckthorn, honeysuckle and burning bush.

“I like to work where I can have a ripple effect,” Plumb said.

The museum is one of 15 demonstration sites where The Nature Conservancy has established partnerships to educate visitors about invasive plants.

Plumb is trying to engage the public in stewardship of land where plants are living up to their title of “invaders.” Late this month, Vermont Youth and Conservation Corps members are set to join Plumb and volunteers at the Charlotte Park and Wildlife Refuge, where there is an ongoing campaign to remove honeysuckle. [...]

Read the full story at link.


Invasion of Asian longhorned beetles

By Peter Alsop
Photographs by Max Aguilera-Hellweg
Smithsonian Magazine, November 2009


On a pleasant july evening Donna Massie steered her car into her driveway at the bottom of Whitmarsh Avenue in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her husband, Kevin, and his friend Jesse were huddled beside Jesse's car, a gold Hyundai Sonata, and were peering closely at one of its doors. They were staring not at a dent but at a striking black-and-white beetle, about the width of Donna's pinkie and half as long, with bluish legs and two banded antennas that curved back over the length of its body like the whiskers of a catfish.

The beetle gently probed the surface of the car with its forelegs. None of the three was much of a bug person, and Donna was decidedly anti-bug, stipulating a death-to-insect policy in her house. Still, the beetle transfixed her. It was larger than any she'd ever encountered, and with its otherworldly colors it was almost beautiful. Before the creature whirled its wings and flew away, Massie and her husband decided that it must be a June bug, albeit a freakish sort.

The insect might have escaped further notice, and evaded authorities altogether, if the Massies had not hosted a cookout two days later in their backyard, where others began to notice the curious beetles. They were hard to miss, creeping along the trunks of the maple trees that fringed the Massies' yard. Their black wing casings stood out starkly against the silver bark. One beetle planted itself on Kevin's pant leg and had to be pried loose. Then Donna noticed something unnerving. Near the base of one maple, she found a beetle sprinkled with sawdust, its head submerged in a dime-size hole in the tree's trunk. It seemed to be eating its way inward.

The following morning, Donna searched the Internet and identified her backyard visitor as an Asian longhorned beetle, also known by the abbreviation ALB. Her search also turned up a pest alert from the state of Florida that warned of the dangers posed by the insect. Donna began leaving messages with various agricultural authorities.

Patty Douglass, who works for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), was in her office in Wallingford, Connecticut, 75 miles south of Worcester, when Donna Massie's call came through. In her position as the plant health director for Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Douglass regularly fields phone calls from gardeners, landscapers and amateur entomologists who believe they've encountered one of the nonnative insects on the USDA's threat list. Nearly all of these calls prove to be in error, as the insect universe is almost incomprehensibly large and varied, and mistakes in identification are easily made. The beetle order alone contains some 350,000 known species; by comparison, the total number of bird species is roughly 10,000. [...]

Read the full story (4 pages with photographs) at link.


Town to set aside funds for invasive species in Lake Placid

By CHRIS KNIGHT, Enterprise Senior Staff Writer

LAKE PLACID, NY - The town of North Elba is planning to set aside funds in next year's town budget to help protect Lake Placid from invasive species.

Supervisor Roby Politi said the town has tentatively budgeted $15,000 for the Lake Placid Shore Owners Association, which would use the money to pay a steward to staff the boat launches on the lake and inspect boats and trailers for invasive plants. Last year the association only received $1,000 from the town.

"Lake Placid is one of our most important resources, and I think it's imperative we try to maintain the quality of that lake," Politi said Thursday, a day after meeting with Shore Owners Association President Mark Wilson and village of Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall. "It's what we're named for. We need to take care of it."

Politi stressed, however, that the funding commitment isn't final.

"You never know what's committed until the last couple days of the budget process," he said. "We do intend to do our best to include their request within the budget."

If the funding is allocated, Wilson said it will be helpful but won't cover the total cost of providing stewards at both the state Department of Environmental Conservation boat launch at the Lake Placid Marina and the village boat launch on Victor Herbert Road. Wilson estimates it will cost $48,000 to have complete coverage - eight hours a day, seven days a week for 15 weeks - at both launches using stewards from the Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith's College.

"Obviously we're going to have to scramble to get enough money from whatever source we can," he said. "We're going to write grant applications and go to every possible public, private or nonprofit source we can find."

Wilson doesn't want the village boat launch to be closed entirely, but he said the village board should consider only allowing canoes and kayaks, boats that don't need trailers, to access the lake there.

"The trailers are the chief vector of this invasive, and the boats that are carried on trailers; push all the trailer traffic to the DEC launch," he said.

Wilson has been pressing the village to take some kind of action since the discovery of variable-leaf milfoil in Paradox Bay in June. The invasive was removed at the association's expense, but Wilson said further stewardship is needed to prevent future problems.

He plans to ask for a public forum to discuss the issue.

"I know there is quite a move to keep the village launch open," he said. "I'd be perfectly willing to have an open forum where we can discuss our side, they can bring their side to the table, and the village can decide what is a responsible action to take."

Read the story at link.


New York DEC restocks indigenous fish population at Ridgebury Lake

From the Mid-Hudson News Network

WAWAYANDA, NY – The State Department of Environmental Conservation Thursday continued its two year effort to restock Ridgebury Lake in the Town of Wawayanda.

It re-introduced largemouth bass, crappies and crayfish population, which had been in danger due to the invasive and predatory Northeastern Snakehead. That species had begun to populate the lake and was subsequently eradicated by the DEC through the use of rotenone, which is a naturally occurring root that is toxic to the snakehead.

Willie Janeway, the DEC regional director, said the Snakehead is a rather nasty breed.

“There is really nothing to stop these fish from going into the Hudson, up the Hudson, into the Canal system, and across the entire state, which is why it was so important that we eliminate the invasive Snakehead here and follow up and restore with the natural fish populations,” he said.

Janeway said the cost of this project was less than $10,000 and came out of a fund specifically set aside to handle this problem when it began two years ago, well before the budget crisis.

The Northeastern Snakehead has also been found in some of the freshwater locations in Staten Island, but are contained and samples were taken and all efforts made to be certain that the invasive species was no longer in the lake.

Local Fisheries Director Michael Flaherty and John Clark of Northeastern Aquatics, the hatchery where the endangered species of fish were bred, restocked 1,500 largemouth bass, 1,200 crayfish, 1,500 yellow perch and 1,000 crayfish into the lake.
That accounted for only half of the amount being used to repopulate the lake, the balance of which will be brought by the middle of next month.

Read the story at link.


Call for Abstracts, Florida EPPC Symposium, April 5 - 8, 2010

The 25th Annual Florida EPPC Symposium is being held April 5th-8th, 2010 in Crystal River, Florida. This year's theme is Changes in Latitude, highlighting the role of invasive species in global climate change and addressing how Florida's land managers can maintain a positive outlook in light of economic hardships. The meeting will be held at the Plantation Golf Resort & Spa.

Deadline for Abstract Submissions: November 30, 2009.

Program Topics: Submissions are welcome for any area of invasive plant species investigation, including but not limited to: Ecology, Economics, Management, Climate Change, Risk Assessment, Policy and Regulation, Evolutionary Biology, and Interdisciplinary Projects.


Abstracts must include the following information:

• Title of the proposed paper
• Full name and professional title of the author, organization to which s/he belongs, mailing address, phone number(s), and email address
• If there are multiple authors, please provide the above information for each.
• Text of the abstract (limit of 400 words)

General rules regarding abstracts: Please do not include figures, tables or mathematical equations in the abstract. Use standard abbreviations for units of measure. Other abbreviations and acronyms should be spelled out in full at first mention, followed by the abbreviation/acronym in parentheses. If you use references, provide the journal, volume, year and page numbers.

A letter or notification of acceptance or rejection will be emailed to the author(s) no later than December 15th, 2009. Online submission of abstracts is strongly encouraged. If web access is not available, please submit abstracts to: Jon Lane, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 701 San Marco Boulevard, Jacksonville, FL 32207. Email: jon.s.lane[at]


Wild boars arriving in Western New York

Matt Pitts,

wild_boarFrom zebra mussels, to the emerald ash borer, New York State has seen its share of invasive species. But you may not believe what's causing concern now.

Feral pigs, also known as wild boars, have arrived in Western New York. For the past couple of years the New York Department of Environmental Conservation has tried to contain some herds in the central part of the state.

But now officials at Allegheny State Park have confirmed for the first time, their presence there, about 50 miles south of Buffalo.

Because they're not native to New York, there are two schools of thought as to how they got started here. One theory is some wild boars escaped from a game farm. The other goes that they could well have been simple pink piggies that bolted from a hog farm.

"When they go to the wild they actually go through a morphological change. Their hair turns thicker, darker and courser, and their tusks develop. You wouldn't think that little pink porker could become that razorback type of boar but it does," said New York DEC Wildlife Manager Mark Kandel.

They're also extremely destructive to the eco-system, substantially damaging crops, while wreaking havoc on native animals and water quality.

Feral pigs generally shy away from people. But because they're not a protected species, and because they're so destructive, the DEC has instructed hunters that if they see these things, shoot them.

Read the story at link.


Massachusetts ALB Newsletter

This is Volume 1, Issue 15 (10/29/2009) of the ALB Newsletter, your link to the latest information about the Asian longhorned beetle, brought to you by the Massachusetts Introduced Pests Outreach Project (MIPOP).

Get this news as it happens with the ALB Twitter feed:

----Recent News----

Volunteers across Massachusetts will be handing out ALB temporary tattoos to lucky trick-or-treaters this Halloween!

At a recent debate hosted by Boston Park Advocates, Boston City Councilor candidate Felix Arroyo was asked, "What does the Asian longhorned beetle mean to you?" Read his response here (

The Mass. Dept. of Agricultural Resources recently released a free ALB tree guide. The guide prints on a single page (double-sided) and is ideal for giving out to volunteers participating in ALB tree surveys:

Members of the Worcester County Beekeepers Association met with federal officials from the Worcester Eradication Program to discuss the treatment of trees with pesticide in the fight against ALB (Worcester Telegram & Gazette):

Smithsonian Magazine has published a comprehensive article about the Asian longhorned beetle infestation in Worcester:

Thanks to everyone who responded to the "Easter Egg" message in our last newsletter! ALB T-shirts will be going out in the mail next week.

---- Upcoming Events and Volunteer Opportunities ----

Volunteers are needed to assist with ALB tree surveys in the Springfield and Boston areas. The surveys are being held to train volunteers and to raise awareness about the beetle in parts of the state where ALB is more likely to show up (but hasn't yet!). Springfield survey is Nov. 9th, Boston survey is Nov. 14th. For details, go to

The Worcester Tree Initiative is having a tree planting and giveaway event at Worcester Tech. High School on Saturday, Nov. 7th. To volunteer with the Worcester Tree Initiative program or learn about tree giveaways for those affected by ALB, go to:

The Massachusetts Landscape & Nursery Association has organized two Asian longhorned beetle training sessions to be run by MDAR staff on November 12th in Westborough. MCH credit available, Pesticide credits pending. More information at:

Mass. Dept. of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) staff will be speaking about ALB to the Massachusetts Cemetery Association on November 5th at Tower Hill Botanic Garden. Also, watch for an Asian longhorned beetle display at the Winchester EcoFest on this Saturday, October 31st.

A free ALB general information session will be held by MDAR staff at Garden in the Woods in Framingham on Wednesday, November 18th, from 12:30-2pm. To register, email bdrexler AT or call 508-877-7630 x3302

Learn to survey for ALB and ALB tree damage with the Greater Worcester Land Trust. Volunteer crews go out most Thursdays at 12pm. Email anne AT for more details and to RSVP.


Invasive Plants: From the Nursery to Your Garden

By Aimee Kemp

According to the New York Invasive Species Research Institute (NYISRI), New York is plagued by about twenty invasive plant species. On this list are thirteen common plants that are available at plant nurseries in the New York area, including:

* Phragmites (Phragmites australis)
* Mile a minute vine (Persicaria perfoliata)
* Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
* Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii)
* Norway maple (Acer platanoides)
* Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
* Russian olive (Elaeganus angustifolia)
* Smooth buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula)
* Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
* Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)
* Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora)
* Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)
* Swallow-wort (Cynanchium louiseae)
* Burning bush (Euonymous alatus)

I was curious to see how these plants are finding their way into gardens to begin with, so I decided to survey some New York nurseries online to see exactly what I could find in their inventory. I will not mention the names of these nurseries, but I will say that out of seven nurseries in the New York state area surveyed, three of them were selling some kind of invasive species. One nursery in particular had five species of barberry and ten species of Norway maple alone. Out of the three nurseries that were selling invasives, a total of nine out of the thirteen species listed above were present. The four nurseries found that were not selling any invasives were all located within the New York City area and sold only house plants. It is possible that if they had more space then they too would be selling invasives.

While many nurseries are still selling invasive plants, I have found three organizations in the New York area that sell native plant species only. These three organizations also participate in some educational programs that teach landscapers, gardeners, etc. about how to plant a native garden that is good for the unique ecosystems in Eastern North America. These organizations are:

1. The Plantsmen Nursery (Ithica, NY)
2. The Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College (Westchester, NY)
3. The Greenbelt Native Plant Center (Staten Island, NY)

So the next time you think about buying a new plant for your garden, be sure to look up native species that would be beneficial to the environment to plant and also think about and re-visit the list of invasive plants to avoid. By doing this, you can help reduce the transformation and destruction of native wetland and forest ecosystems by invasives.

Read the story at link.

Note from Bill - I would like to add the Long Island Native Grass Initiative (LINGI) to the list of organizations selling native plants. Visit LINGI's website at link.


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