Monday, March 30, 2009

Week of March 30, 2009

Updated 4/2

Economic Stimulus Could Boost Invasive Species Management

On February 17, President Barack Obama signed the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 to stimulate the economy by creating jobs and building infrastructure.

As of March, implications for invasive species management were unclear. The stimulus package includes more than $3 billion for agencies and programs that will directly affect natural resources. The ARRA spending mandates are very broad and include concepts such as habitat restoration, watershed improvement, forest health protection, and wildland fire management that may allow funding to flow toward invasive plant management.

States and federal agencies face a May 3 deadline to begin reporting how ARRA dollars will be allocated. Until that time, governors are coordinating state allocations, while regional and national offices of the federal agencies are evaluating needs and deciding how to distribute funds.

Information about individual state and federal ARRA programs – how the dollars are being allocated and progress toward goals – can be found at This website is the primary online portal through which the government will continue to report how ARRA funds are being spent "in a timely, targeted, and transparent manner," according to the President.


Book makes case for native plants

By Bill Cary • Gannett News Service

People in the gardening world are calling Douglas W. Tallamy's book on native plants the next "Silent Spring," Rachel Carson's 1962 book that warned of the dangers of chemical pesticides and helped launch the modern-day environmental movement.

In his book, "Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens" (Timber Press, 2007, $27.95), Tallamy argues that native plants are vital to the survival of our ecosystems because they sustain native wildlife. When native plants disappear, so do the insects that have evolved with them, thus depriving birds and other animals of the food they need to survive.

Tallamy, professor and head of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware in Newark, Del., has spent years studying insects and the many ways they interact with plants. This food web helps to determine the diversity of our ecosystem...

...We've put nature into neat little quadrants and many of these are filled with invasive species, he said. Look at the narrow strips of land next to our highways - many are overflowing with invasive porcelain berry and bittersweet vines that are pulling down the native trees and choking out everything else.

When we load up our ecosystem with pretty plants from China or Europe, our native insects can't eat them. From the insects' point of view, we might as well stick plastic flowers in our yard instead of peonies or lilacs.

Nationwide, 100 million acres have been invaded by alien plants, and that's expected to double in the next five years...

Read the full article at Link.


Agricultural agents in NJ wage war on bugs, plants, and disease

By Judy Peet - The Star-Ledger

All Alba Lugardo wanted was her chicken tamales.

She stood sobbing at international customs inspection at Newark Liberty International Airport as agents explained why they seized her vittles. Lugardo didn't care about the big picture; she just wanted the comfort food she brought in her carry-on luggage from Ecuador for her pregnant daughter in Newark.

But invasion can come from the most unlikely places.

To Lugardo, a tamale is a meal. To federal bug and germ hunters, uninspected foreign meat wrapped in corn husks is a possible carrier of avian flu that could sicken hundreds and destroy the livelihood of thousands of chicken-farm workers in Delaware. It is quite a stretch, but one that Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at every U.S. port of entry make daily in the fight against tiny alien predators.

Ten days ago, Newark agents announced they discovered a plant bug never before seen in the U.S. Botanists don't know if it is a killer, because, like most of the estimated 30 million insect species on the planet, it has never been studied...

...Every day, inspectors in Newark intercept on average more than 100 bugs, according to customs reports. About once a month, they come across a species never before seen in the U.S. The stowaway found 10 days ago was hiding in a bunch of Israeli thyme, said Thomas Henry, the USDA botanist who examined the insect.

It is of the Miridae family, but the species is unknown. Henry said that of the estimated 30 million bug species worldwide, only 1.5 million have been fully classified. It is definitely not one of the 90,000 species native to the U.S., Henry said.

Read the full article, with video, at Link.


Birds vanishing in the Lehigh Valley, PA

By Christopher Baxter - The Morning Call

An unprecedented study of United States bird populations suggests development in the Lehigh Valley during the past decade has contributed to the steep decline of local species, signaling a deterioration of the region's environment.

Of the 132 most prevalent birds found in Pennsylvania, one-third show significant declines during the past 40 years, mirroring national trends, according to the study's raw data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey.''

The report, ''The State of the Birds,'' released this month by the U.S. Department of the Interior, found that about one-third of the nation's 800 species are endangered, threatened, or in decline.

...suffering precipitous drops in population are Eastern forest birds, which in Pennsylvania include the golden-winged warbler, down 6.7 percent annually since 1967; the wood thrush, down 2.3 percent annually; and the Eastern towhee, down 2 percent annually.

Those species rely on large tracts of pristine hardwood forest, a statewide specialty increasingly under attack by suburban sprawl, invasive species, and deer overpopulation, said Nels Johnson, director of conservation with The Nature Conservancy of Pennsylvania...

Read the full article at Link.


Connecticut has key role in search for cause of white-nose syndrome in bats


The rapid spread from the Northeast to the South of the deadly white-nose syndrome in bats is more than a crisis that once again puts Connecticut at the center of a major outbreak like Lyme disease or West Nile virus.

The race to solve the white-nose mystery before the scourge reaches the large bat populations of the American South has set off a frenzied, CSI-like drama in veterinary and pathology laboratories from Italy to Wisconsin. Connecticut is playing a crucial role by compiling data on the syndrome and sending samples of diseased bats to important university and government diagnostic clinics.

The syndrome, first discovered in New York state in 2006, is a condition in which the heads, legs and wings of hibernating bats are coated with a white fungus that scientists have identified as a rare form of geomyces, a fungus usually found in cold, dry environments, such as the tundra in the Arctic.

Earlier this month, biologists from the state Department of Environmental Protection confirmed, after visits to bat caves in Litchfield County, that as many as 90 percent of Connecticut's bats have died...

...Al Hicks, a mammal specialist who runs the endangered species program for the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, led the team of field biologists who first discovered white-nose in bats. He considers it telling that the first site where white-nose was found was Howe Caverns in New York's Schoharie County, a popular tourist site where more than 200,000 visitors a year ride elevators down to a deep cave that houses hibernating bats on the far end.

"We've known since 1983 that there is a very similar geomyces fungus on bats in Europe but that it has not killed them in large numbers like here in the U.S.," Hicks said. "Someone from Europe might have carried that fungus into Howe Caverns on their shoes. This might have introduced a fungus from another continent that American bats had not yet developed resistance to."...

Read the full article at Link.


Annapolis, Maryland bans invasive plants

By Tyeesha Dixon,

The City of Annapolis would impose restrictions on invasive plants if a bill the City Council is considering passes.

The bill would prohibit 97 species of invasive plants ... on "lots or parcels within the city unless completely contained to control growth and prevent encroachment." It would also limit growth of grass, weeds and other rank vegetation to one foot high.

The bill includes exceptions to the height requirement, including agricultural property, natural wooded areas, public parks, and recreational property and unimproved areas of more than three acres.

At Monday's public hearing, Ward 2 Alderman Fred Paone, the bill's sponsor, said he introduced the bill because of neighbor disputes regarding unruly bamboo. Paone said he started to learn of constituents' problems with bamboo and kudzu, in particular, in June.

David Prosten, chairman of the 1,400-member Anne Arundel County chapter of the Sierra Club, told the council that the group supports the bill.

Read the full story at Link.


Swamp studies snag honors for two students in New York

By Roger Muehlig,

BERGEN, NY -- Two Byron-Bergen Central School students are headed for a state science competition in Albany in June with award-winning projects related to an endangered snake and an invasive weed in the Bergen Swamp.

Seniors Kelsey Hill and Daniel Madziarz won high honors for their projects at the Central Western Section of the Science Teachers Association of New York State's 2009 Science Congress at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, the school district said.

Hill's presentation, "Survey of the Invasive Species Eurasian species Phragmites Australis in the Bergen Swamp," also earned her a U.S. Army certificate of achievement, a U.S. Air Force certificate of achievement and an MP3 player, the district said.

Hill and Madziarz were mentored by Stephen Locke, a science teacher at Byron-Bergen and a trustee and vice president of the Bergen Swamp Preservation Society, which owns the 1,900-acre rare plant and wildlife preserve that stretches across the northern half of the town and into the neighboring town of Byron.

Locke said the two students volunteered for their projects, received no extra credit for their work and probably put in more than 500 hours of time each.

Hill's effort showed that an invasive species of phragmites, which originated in Europe, and the native species that came from New England were both in the swamp. Both like high-salt wetlands, Locke said, but Hill did a nice job of documenting the differences between the two and showed that the European species was taking over, occupying 27 percent of the swamp's open land.

Hill, who would like to pursue environmental writing in college, perhaps at Ohio Wesleyan, is not only the first to scientifically state the takeover is occurring, Locke said, but created a computer data-base to manage eradication of the invasive species.

The daughter of David and Lesle Hill said she spent about 16 hours a week in the swamp last summer and another 15 hours or so a week formulating her report.

"It was pretty hot out there, but it was worth it," she said.

Read the full story at Link.


Cazenovia, NY bans phosphorus fertilizer to reduce AIS

By Alaina Potrikus, The Post-Standard

Cazenovia leaders want homeowners to know that most soils in the lake watershed contain adequate levels of naturally occurring phosphorus and should not be affected by the town's ban on fertilizers with the nutrient.

The town board in January passed the area's first ban restricting the use of phosphorus in lawn fertilizers in hopes of creating a less-fertile environment for algae and other aquatic plants, such as the weed Eurasian watermilfoil, that annually plague Cazenovia Lake. Village leaders are considering a similar resolution in support of the local law.

The community has been making plans all winter to tackle the growing problem of invasive species such as milfoil. The town, in conjunction with the village and the Cazenovia Lake Association, is applying for a permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to apply the herbicide Renovate to portions of the lake in hopes of knocking back the milfoil population, which has skyrocketed in recent summers.

While local officials work to solve the environmental and financial ramifications of the milfoil, Town Supervisor Liz Moran said, the phosphorus ban is something area homeowners can do to help prevent future weed growth.

The ban will be enforced by the town's code enforcement officer, and Moran said officials hope "the majority of residents recognize that, although not a magic bullet, a phosphorus reduction plan is an easy way for everyone to display good stewardship of the lake and contribute to the long-term health of this precious resource."

Read full story at Link.


Lake Placid, NY to use beetles to combat purple loosestrife

By HEATHER SACKETT, for the Adirondack Enterprise

LAKE PLACID - "If you can't beat 'em, let the beetles eat 'em." This slogan of the Ausable River Association will be put to the test this summer, when Lake Placid will attempt to combat an invasive species with hungry beetles.

The golden loosestrife beetle (Galerucella pusilla) will be released into four dense stands of purple loosestrife on the shores of Mill Pond and Power Pond. The project's aim is to keep the tributaries of the Ausable River free from the invasive species. Mill and Power ponds are on the Chubb River, which feeds into the Ausable. The program is funded by a grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program.

According to the association's director Carol Treadwell, no purple loosestrife has been recorded in the West Branch of the river between Lake Placid and Wilmington - and the association wants to keep it that way.

According to director of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program Hilary Smith, purple loosestrife is one of the most widespread invasive plants in the country.

"Our concern is because the Adirondacks have a lot of prime habitat for wetland invasives," Smith said. "If you're finding it along river complexes, it can be spread downstream."

The beetles, which eat only purple loosestrife, are used after other labor-intensive control methods like hand cutting and pulling the plants and spot applications of herbicide have failed to keep a population of purple loosestrife in check.

The beetles, which are light brown in color and four to six millimeters long, will be released this spring by a team of volunteers, headed up by Treadwell. Right now, they are being raised in a marsh near Utica.

Read the full article at Link.


Cape May County hopes stimulus funds flow to Lower creek


LOWER TOWNSHIP - Cape May County is asking for $2 million in federal stimulus money to help restore Cox Hall Creek in Lower Township.

The watershed, which covers 1,940 acres, is clogged by phragmites marsh reeds that hinder the creek's ability to drain and pose fire hazards when the stalks are dry. Poor water flow at Cox Hall Creek also presents concerns about mosquito breeding habitat.

County freeholders are applying for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coastal and Marine Habitat Restoration Project grant, which would use federal stimulus money.

The $2 million proposed project would involve placing two culverts in the area to allow saltwater to flow in from the Delaware Bay to kill the invasive phragmites, said County Administrator Stephen O'Connor.

Federal funding would also pay for studies on a second phase of the proposed project.
That phase involves installing new pipes with tidal traps leading directly into the Delaware Bay to create a constant, controlled level of water, O'Connor said.

Read the full story at Link.


National ANS Database now part of NYIS.INFO

I'm very excited to report that the aquatic invasive/aquatic nuisance species database of the National Aquatic Nuisance Species Clearinghouse (NANSC) is now a part of the NY Invasive Species Clearinghouse (NYIS.INFO). The database is a searchable annotated catalog of the NANSC international library of research, public policy, and outreach education publications pertaining to invasive marine and fresh-water aquatic nuisance species that are found in North America. It is also the home of North America's most extensive library of publications related to the spread, biology, impacts and control of zebra mussels.

The Aquatic Invasive Species Database (Link) can be searched via an extended outline search or via a powerful full text search feature.

Charles R. O'Neill, Jr.
Sr. Extension Specialist
Cornell University/New York Sea Grant
Director, NY Invasive Species Clearinghouse Director, National Aquatic
Nuisance Species Clearinghouse Coordinator, Cornell Invasive Species Program
Morgan II, SUNY College Brockport, NY 14420


Share your phragmites samples and location data

Dr. Bernd Blossey at Cornell University is soliciting contributions of samples and data on native and invasive locations of common reed (Phragmites australis). In particular, Blossey is hoping to receive more data from western states, which currently are poorly represented in his database. Blossey and his colleagues will use the data to prepare a distribution map so that more targeted searches can be done in certain states. They also hope to launch a web-based approach that will allow volunteers or states to update data remotely.

Contact Dr. Bernd Blossey


Volunteers needed to root out invasive plants in Virginia

By John Hopkins, The Virginian-Pilot

The local chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society will join the Chesapeake Arboretum and interested volunteers on May 2 to uproot nonnative growth in the area during the first statewide Invasive Plant Removal Day.

They will target English ivy and ligustrum, also known as privet, at the arboretum's urban forest in Chesapeake, said Barbara Gelzer, the arboretum's coordinator. Statewide, various other groups will take on similar tasks in their own communities.

The Virginia Native Plant Society and the Virginia Master Naturalists are sponsoring the statewide event. Activities are being coordinated now and interested people can learn more by going to


Very cute biological control agents on Long Island


The Town of Hempstead has a new set of grass cutters for the Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve in Merrick, and they go by the names Sleepy, Sneezy, Bashful, Happy and Doc.

The five are Nigerian dwarf goats and their assignment will be controlling weeds and overgrowth at the 50-acre preserve.

The puppy-sized goats, between 4 and 6 weeks old, spent Monday in their pen, grazing on goat pellets. By autumn, town officials hope the five will be chowing down grass and weeds.

We'll let them eat to their hearts' content," said Town Supervisor Kate Murray. "Basically, they're going to be our natural lawn mowers."

But the goats won't have free rein of the preserve: They will either be tethered to a line, tended on leashes or kept inside a movable fence.

And although the animals are considered gentle, children will not be allowed to pet them."

There's an overabundance of caution at this point," Murray said. "They're young, they're unpredictable and it's not really their purpose.

"The town paid $1,200 for the five goats, which were born at the Long Island Zoological Society in Manorville. The town expects to save money that would have been spent on labor, gas, lawn mowers and line trimmers. Officials also touted the goats' value to the environment, as their carbon footprint will be smaller than that of lawn care machinery.

It's not the first time the preserve has turned to unusual methods to respond to issues at the facility. Four years ago, guinea fowl were brought in to control ticks. They feed on insects and, since their arrival, the preserve hasn't had any reports of ticks, Murray said.

The preserve hopes the goats will thrive -- and perhaps add to their ranks.

"We figure with one boy and four girls, nature might take its course," Murray said.

Read the full article and see some very cute photos at Link.


Phragmites' last stand?


For more than a century, North American scientists, engineers, environmentalists, sportsmen and others have fought the invasion of a foreign form of the common reed, Phragmites australis, and lost...

...After a decade of studies, scientists at Cornell University have narrowed a field of 150 different species of fungus, pathogens and insects down to four moths that, if released into the wild here, could potentially attack and kill the invasive form of phragmites.

Bernd Blossey, associate professor at the university and lead researcher on the project, said any release of the species would not be for another three to five years, since they are currently being carefully studied in Rhode Island and Switzerland.

Nevertheless, he said initial studies have been very promising, and the moths the researchers are studying seem to have a singular interest in eating the one species of phragmites that has plagued this area.

"The biological control of plants has been around for 120 to 150 years," Blossey said, "but for phragmites, it's extremely novel and no one has tried that."

In southern New Jersey - what Blossey called "the middle of the storm" in the invasion - other techniques have mostly centered on burning, chopping, mowing or spraying with herbicide the large stands of phragmites found here.

These attempts, particularly spraying, have not only been met with much public resistance, but they also usually only serve to push the reed back rather than eradicate it altogether. Most require continuous maintenance as the reed creeps back in, making them more expensive and time consuming.

But the moths that Blossey is studying have a long history of being effective phragmites killers. They are all found in Europe, where the form of phragmites that has taken over marshes here also came from, and they have adapted a particular taste for the plant - one is even called a Reed Leopard.

In Europe they are so proficient they are sometimes considered pests, but that's only because the form of phragmites that is considered invasive here provides valuable habitat overseas.

Whatever species is eventually released to attack the foreign variety of phragmites will have to leave that native species alone, which Blossey said is the main concern now as studies of the moths are continued.

Read the full article at Link.

For more information, visit InvasivePlants.Net.


Exotic species at the 36th Natural Areas Conference

September 11-18, 2009
Vancouver, Washington

In association with the Natural Areas Association, the National Association of Exotic Pest Plant Councils will host an Invasive Exotic Species track at the 2009 Natural Areas Conference in Vancouver, Washington. The theme for the September 15-18, 2009, conference is “Living on the Edge: Why Natural Areas Matter.”

All NAEPPC chapters are invited and encouraged to submit some aspect of their work in a contributed paper or poster. Submission of abstracts and other information about the conference is available online at the Natural Areas Conference web site. Please note the April 30, 2009 deadline for abstract submission.


New Hampshire lake group tackles invasive milfoil

By Eric Parry,

HAMPSTEAD, NH — Residents around Big Island Pond believe a 30-foot pontoon boat — complete with a pump, hoses and a perforated deck — in Skip Lanouette's front yard is their best hope of fighting an invasive weed that has spread across the lake for the past decade.
Lanouette and a group of residents from around the lake are converting the boat into a harvester that will help scuba divers remove milfoil from the pond.

There have been attempts to rid the lake of the milfoil in the past, but pulling the weeds by hand and stuffing them into bags was a tedious process that didn't accomplish much.

But with this new tool, Bob Patterson, who is leading a team of 15 divers, said a lot more of the lake should be free of the weed that spreads quickly and can choke natural vegetation.

"What took us a whole month by hand last year can take us a day with the harvester," Patterson said.

While two divers are in the water pulling weeds, a 4-inch-wide hose attached to one of the divers will suck the weed into large holding tanks on the deck of the boat. The holding tanks and deck have been fitted with a tight mesh that will collect the weed in bags, but will allow the water to drain back into the pond.

At most, divers will only have to go down 12 feet because the weed doesn't grow any deeper than that in the lake, Patterson said.

To make sure they collect it all, volunteers armed with pool skimmers will circle the boat in kayaks to trap any small pieces of the weed that float to the top.

"A little 2-inch piece can float away and start a new colony somewhere else," Patterson said.

After the milfoil is bagged and tagged, volunteers will then send a complete report back to the state Department of Environmental Services. The report will include how much of the weed was collected, where it was growing, water temperature and air temperature.

About 60 volunteers are involved with the project, helping to retrofit the boat with benches for the divers, hooking up the hoses and spending weekends navigating the boat around the lake. So far, 135 dives have been scheduled starting at the end of the month and continuing every weekend through the summer.

"The volunteerism on the lake is incredible," said Paul LaRochelle, who was one of the neighbors who helped Lanouette install the pump last weekend.

The boat was purchased earlier this year with the help of the lake association, donations from residents and the New Hampshire Lakes Association.

But even with this new tool, the state DES is suggesting a chemical, 2-4-D, be used to assist in the cleanup.

Amy Smagula, a DES limnologist, said the combination of the hand pulling and herbicide treatment will eliminate the weed faster than either technique alone.

"Fifty acres is a little daunting when you're trying to physically remove it," Smagula said.

Still, residents know the lake will never be completely rid of the weed.

Read the full story at Link.


Southeast Herbicide Applicator Conference

University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Sep 22-24, 2009
Edgewater Beach Resort
Panama City Beach, Florida

Training for those who conduct weed control in canals, lakes, water retention ponds, golf course ponds, rivers, parks, highway rights-of-ways, transmission lines, and are responsible for vegetation management along right-of-ways and in natural areas, and use biological control techniques to suppress aquatic weed growth.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Week of March 23, 2009

Updated 3/26/09

Birds in Freefall

Living on Earth -

A new large-scale report finds roughly a quarter of all American bird species, in a variety of habitats, are in decline. But there are a few bright spots that point to potential for a turnaround. Living on Earth’s Jeff Young went visit Conn Island in the Potomac River and has our story...

...YOUNG: So what's the role of exotic invasives and bird populations?

MEHLMAN: Exotics or invasive species are one of the top threats to biodiversity of all kinds worldwide including birds. Non-native plants come in and can totally alter habitat type so it's unsuitable for use by birds and other wildlife.

YOUNG: The report shows invasive species, habitat loss and fragmentation, pesticides and disease all taking a tremendous toll on birds...

See the full story at Link


Wilmington, Delaware CBP outruns invasive bittervine

Contributed by U.S. Department of Homeland Security, featured in

Competitive runners boast of four-minute miles, but they can’t keep pace with an invasive weed species that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists intercepted at the Port of Wilmington, Del., on Wednesday.

On Thursday, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) botanist identified a weed seed, discovered during a CBP inspection of pineapples that arrived aboard the M/V Eurus Lima from Costa Rica, as Mikania micrantha, also know as the invasive mile-a-minute weed (aka bittervine).

Bittervine is reportedly an actionable federal noxious weed that can grow as much as three inches in 24 hours, and it crowds out native species.

“Our agriculture specialists immediately recognized this weed seed discovery as a potential threat to American agriculture and asked USDA for an urgent identification,” said Zachary Pillarelli, CBP Supervisory Agriculture Specialist for the Port of Wilmington. “Turns out their suspicions proved correct. I guess you can say CBP successfully outran another invasive species threat.”

CBP ordered the container secured and issued an Emergency Action Notification for the container to be re-exported. The USDA permitted the container, which was destined to Canada, to be shipped to Canada where authorities will take appropriate action. Link


8th Pepper Pull held on Saturday in Florida

Crystal River Preserve State Park, Florida, held the 8th Pepper Pull event today, sponsored by the Friends of Crystal River State Parks and the Ozello Civic Association.

25 volunteers, one staff and an Americorps IP member roved the hammocks to pull out young Brazilian Pepper trees before they can fruit.

Volunteers came from the Preserve, as well as Homosassa Wildlife Park, Ozello Civic Assoc., Native Plant Society, Audubon, and Crystal River Middle School.

After the pull everyone ate lunch provided by the Ozello Civic Association. In all, 16 additional acres were rid of 3568 pepper plants. This brings the total acreage treated with this program to approx. 103 acres and the running stem count for Pepper Pulls to over 54,000.

This type of retreatment follows the herbicide killing of adult plants by staff and contract projects, breaking the reproductive cycle in the area. This program has become an important component of a multi pronged CRPSP attack on exotics involving staff and volunteer herbicide treatments, community education and motivation, and contract control projects sourced from BIPM (FWC) and federal grants.

Keith Morin
Park Biologist
Florida Division of Recreation and Parks
Department of Environmental Protection
Crystal River Preserve State Park
3266 North Sailboat Ave.
Crystal River, FL 34428
Phone: (352)563-0450
Fax: (352) 563-0246
Cell: (352) 302-1649

Visit The Real Florida at


Volunteers sought to track tree-killers in upstate New York

ITHACA - Cornell University is taking steps to identify new infestations of invasive insect species that destroy tree populations and have encroached on New York's borders.

The emerald ash borer, hemlock woolly adelgid and Asian longhorned beetle, tree-killers with a taste for maple, ash, hemlock and willow, have been discovered in new locations all over the Northeast. The hemlock woolly adelgid (pronounced uh-DEL-jid) is already known to be in Tompkins County. The infestation was first reported in July.

Woolly adelgids were found two weeks ago around Cornell Plantations on the Cornell campus and last week in the Finger Lakes National Forest, for a total of 19 natural areas around Cayuga and Seneca lakes, said Mark Whitmore, an entomologist with Cornell Cooperative Extension.

The university has announced volunteer training sessions to help identify and report new infestations around Cornell and in Ithaca's gorges. Link


Coastal weed may be alternative energy source

By Jack Fichter, Cape May County

VILLAS, NJ — Phragmites, the tall reeds that grow along waterways, get no respect. People poison them, burn them, tear them out of the ground with machines and they may be a cheap source of alternative energy.

Stan Smith, of Council Bluffs, Iowa is working on a project to use Phragmites to produce electricity. They grow all over Cape May County and are considered an invasive weed even though some were planted years ago by the Army Corps of Engineers to hold sand dunes together. He is South Dakota State University graduate with 20 years experience a design engineer followed by a career in product marketing and manufacturing management.

Smith said he would harvest Phragmites including the roots, grind them up and put them into a digester where microbes would eat them and create methane gas which could be used to run generators to make electricity or fed directly into the natural gas pipeline to supply homes.He points to a digester operation at the Green Valley Dairy in Krakow, Wis. where manure from a herd of 2,500 cattle is enclosed in a tank system that excludes oxygen and is broken down by naturally occurring bacteria that produces biogas.

The dairy is using two anaerobic digesters on their farm to generate approximately four million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy a year, which would be enough to power about 400 average Wisconsin, homes for one year.

Smith suggested using the former Ponderlodge, now owned by the state Department of Environmental Protection and called Villas Wildlife Management Area, as an “east coast lab to study Phragmites.”

Barbara Skinner, who is leading a drive to save the Ponderlodge estimates there are hundreds of acres of Phragmites growing in Cape May County and several acres on the property. She has been gathering signatures on a petition to be sent to Gov. Jon Corzine requesting the lodge building and property be preserved as an environmental center.

Skinner said $4 million allocated by the state Division of Fish and Wildlife to demolish buildings and tear up asphalt pathways on the property would be better used to restore the lodge as an environmental center.DEP is taking bids for demolition of buildings before summer.

Smith also suggested the county airport as a location for a series of digesters which could produce electricity 24 hours per day. He estimates the cost to build the first digester at about $3 million but additional units would cost $1.5 million to $2 million. Link


Army official says Asian oysters plan needs more study

By Timothy B. Wheeler,

A key federal official has come down in favor of raising relatively small batches of sterile Asian oysters in the Chesapeake Bay while expanding government efforts to restore the bay's native oysters. But he said he would continue talks with Maryland and Virginia officials to try to reach a consensus on a policy for bringing back the shellfish.

Col. Dionysios Anninos, commander of the Norfolk District of the Army Corps of Engineers, said Friday that a five-year study by Maryland, Virginia and the federal government had failed to resolve concerns about the risks of allowing large-scale farming of the non-native shellfish. He said more studies should be done growing sterile Asian oysters in the bay before a decision is made.

Virginia's seafood industry has pressed to go ahead with full-scale cultivation of the Asian oysters, arguing that they are the best option for increasing the commercial harvest since native oysters are plagued by disease. Maryland, however, has pushed for sticking with the native species, as have other federal environmental agencies and environmental groups.

Critics say that there is a risk of reproduction even in raising sterilized oysters — and that the foreign species could cause widespread environmental damage if it took hold. Link


Asian oysters NOT headed for Chesapeake Bay

By Cory Nealon,

NEWPORT NEWS, Virginia - Citing insurmountable government roadblocks, the Virginia Seafood Council on Tuesday abandoned its effort to introduce Asian oysters into the Chesapeake Bay.

"Unless someone else in the state has the political will to do it, we're finished," said Frances W. Porter, the council's executive director.

Appearing before the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Porter was expected to speak in favor of a council application to introduce 1.1 million non-native oysters into the bay starting in June.

Instead, she withdrew the application citing onerous federal and state requirements, which she declined to discuss.

The VMRC board, with the exception of Ernest L. Bowden Jr. — a waterman who said he was "deeply concerned" about the decision — offered no reaction.

The decision comes weeks before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in conjunction with Virginia and Maryland, is scheduled to release a report that will guide the future of oyster cultivation in the bay.

Speaking by phone after Tuesday's meeting, Porter said the states and the corps have already decided not to allow the expansion of Asian oysters, which are fast-growing and resistant to diseases that have helped decimate the native oyster population.

"In our opinion, it is wrong," said Porter. "But it is a guiding document."

Lynda Tran, communications director for Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, said no decision has been made.

"That is certainly not accurate," she said.

Mark Haviland, a spokesman for the Army Corps in Norfolk, said the agency last spoke with council members during a conference call on Friday.

Participants discussed three possible courses of action, he said: allowing the expansion of Asian oysters, allowing nonreproductive Asian oysters, or prohibiting Asian oysters in the bay. The only decision reached, he said, was to make a unified recommendation in the report. Once the backbone of the bay's seafood industry, native oysters have declined dramatically because of poor water quality, disease and decades of heavy harvesting.

The council began introducing Asian oysters — under rigidly controlled conditions — eight years ago. It hoped to convince federal and state regulators that non-native oysters are a timelier and less expensive way to boost the oyster industry.

Several groups, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, oppose the idea. They worry about unforeseen consequences of introducing the alien species.

Porter criticized detractors, saying they "are solely focused on the risk, not the benefits" of Asian oysters. She said the introduction of Asian oysters could help clean up the bay. Oysters act as a natural water filter.

Scientists have been working to restore the bay's native oyster population since 1993, said Tommy Leggett, an oyster scientist with the foundation. The effort, combined with more restrictive harvests, has kept the population steady in recent years, he said.

"We're seeing enough success with restoration," said Leggett, who owns an oyster farm in Gloucester County. "We're not out of the woods yet, we're a long way from that, but it's working." Link


CRISP ALB Survey Planning Meeting - 4/2/09, 10am-2pm

Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP)

Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, Arkville, NY
Time: 10 AM to 2 PM (Bring your lunch)
Meeting Goal: Further planning for 2009 ALB survey

1) status of DEC and DAM campground surveys
2) status of GIS analysis of ALB-risk property owners (APHIS Quarantine zone zipcodes in relation to zipcodes in CRISP parcel database)
3) plan for 2009 CRISP region ALB survey
4) plan for outreach to CRISP property owners
5) what's happening with state (and federal?) level coordination?

Barbara Dibeler
Landscape Ecologist-Invasive Species Coordinator


Noxious & Invasive Vegetation Management Short Course

The second Northeastern Weed Science Society (NEWSS) Noxious & Invasive Vegetation Management Short Course (NIVM) will be held on the week of September 21st, 2009, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

This course has evolved to meet the demand and need for training and instruction of professionals involved in the administration or implementation of invasive plant management in the Northeastern United States. This course is designed for public and private land managers (parks, conservancies, preserves, forests, private parcels and farms) from Maine to North Carolina who desire a better understanding of non-cropland weed management. A huge success in 2008, the course has expanded to include even more topics. This year, pre-registrants can select from a choice of topics they most want to see included in the week long event. Other topics will cover principles of vegetation management, early detection and rapid response training as well as in-depth instruction on herbicide properties, biological, mechanical and chemical tools of weed control and hands on weed identification each day. Classroom, laboratory and field exercises will be utilized and the program is designed to encourage interaction between students and instructors. This year’s course will also offer different session workshops for novice and advance applicators.

Weed management professionals affiliated with NEWSS instruct and staff the course. This event is a not-for-profit activity and is sponsored in part by a grant from the U.S. Forest Service. To cover anticipated expenses and course training materials the course tuition will be $400.00 for a 4.0 day terrestrial course and $150.00 for a 1.0 day aquatic course or a discounted $500.00 for both courses. Students will need to cover travel, lodging and some meal expenses. The course is limited to the first 75 pre-registered applicants for the terrestrial portion of the course and the first 75 pre-registered applicants for the one day aquatic.

The announcement flyer and pre-registration documents are now posted on the NEWSS Website. We appreciate your assistance in disseminating this important and exciting information to potential registrants.


Melissa A. Bravo
Coordinator for NEWSS NIVM Short Course

Botanist/Weed Scientist
Bureau of Plant Industry Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
2301 North Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110


Free seminar in Maryland - Conservation Partnering: Invasive Species Management as a Successful Watershed Protection Partnership

During this time of tightening budgets, it’s more important than ever to find innovative, efficient ways to produce lasting conservation results. This seminar will cover the whys and hows of using community partnerships to avoid dumping money into short-term projects and start managing for long-term success. We will focus on invasive species management as a jumping-off point for partnership conservation programs.

Location: Naval Support Facility Carderock — Building 40, 9500 MacArthur Boulevard, West Bethesda, MD, 20817

Date: Thursday, April 30th, 8:00am — 4:00pm

Who Should Attend: community members, students, nonprofit employees, military personnel, government officials, business owners, land owners and any other interested parties

More Information, Registration & Exhibitor Signup: Please email ConservationTrainingRSVP @ (delete spaces) or call Susan Reines Robinson at 240-247-0912. Registration is required; no fee.

Morning sessions:
Expert speakers will discuss strategies for maximizing resources through effective partnerships and building programs around invasive species management. Featured speakers will include L. Peter Boice, DoD Conservation Team Leader & Director of the Legacy Program; Bob Hoyt, director of the Department of Environmental Protection for Montgomery County MD; Mary Travaglini of The Nature Conservancy; & North American Pollinator Protection Campaign.

Afternoon sessions:
Attendees will split into small groups for interactive learning activities. Groups will tour Carderock natural areas, identifying invasive species and discussing management strategies. After the tour, groups will participate in an invasive species management planning class. Experts from the Wildlife Habitat Council, The Nature Conservancy and the US Navy will lead groups through a decision-making exercise to devise an invasive species management plan for an example scenario. The focus will be on allocating resources efficiently, setting priorities, and working within the confines of any budget.


Agricultural invaders

Inspectors at the Port of Wilmington intercept bugs, seeds, weeds that hitch rides with foreign produce

By Adam Taylor, The News Journal

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE -- A gust of wind in Costa Rica blows seeds onto a pineapple. A light in a warehouse in Chile draws a moth into a box of grapes. A locust in Afghanistan jumps onto a military jeep.

Threats to this country aren't always from the malicious hands of drug dealers, terrorists or human traffickers.

Just last week, inspectors intercepted a foreign weed and a non-native beetle at the Port of Wilmington, one of the busiest in North America for fruit imports. Foreign invaders are also an issue at Dover Air Force Base.

Had the tiny hitchhikers sneaked through, the damage could have been severe. The fast-growing weeds crowd out and kill native plants and the bugs eat everything in sight, killing crops and trees. The changes result in a chain reaction to the native habitat.

"Once an invasive plant or animal becomes established here, it becomes almost impossible to reverse," University of Delaware entomology professor Judith Hough-Goldstein said. "It's certainly something you want to avoid, because they wreak havoc and wind up displacing many of our native species."

There is a crew of six inspectors who work for Customs and Border Protection at the port who are agricultural specialists. Their job is to prevent foreign invasions.

The inspectors quietly make about 100 discoveries each year.

For the full article, visit Link


Wellsboro High School (PA) students include invasive species in national contest

WELLSBORO, PA. - Some local school districts are facing impending budget cuts because of the crumbling economy.

However, one school in the Northern Tier could see a sizable financial boost, thanks to a team of sharp agriscience students who are competing in a national contest.

Melanie Sanborn first learned of the Lexus Eco-Challenge, a contest co-sponsored by Toyota and Scholastic, through the internet. She thought it would be a great idea to enter her 11th and 12th grade students who are learning about the environment.

"It's an environmental contest where students are taking things that they learned in the classroom in soil, water and air quality issues, and they're applying that to their community by creating activism plans," said Sanborn.

So far, the team has won $20,000 by coming out on top in two of the challenges presented in the contest. Each challenge puts them $10,000 closer to the $50,000 goal.

Now, they are designing a native species garden to compete for the final leg of the competition.

"We designed it using some software we have," said 11th grade student Talia Cpiol. "I decided I wanted it to be completely native, so out of the 500 trees that were donated to our school by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, I had to research each one to make sure it was native to the area," she said.

The other half of this part of the challenge involves raising awareness about invasive species, like zebra mussels in local bodies of water, and giant hogweed plants, which can wreck ecosystems easily.

"We sent out some letters to a bunch of the hunting camps around just to let them know how not to spread the stuff," said teammate Cody Owlett, who is a senior this year.

The team also will be talking to local elementary school students about how to spot and avoid spreading invasive plants or animal species.

One of them is called "Japanese knotweed." It grows in thick, with leaves the size of paper plates, so it can overshadow other plants and steal needed sunlight.

The plant can grow as tall as 9 feet. "A lot of people try to cut it down," said teammate Caleb Krick, who is also a senior. "But in like a week, twice as much grows back," he said.

"When you're walking through it, you have to wipe off your pants and shoes to make sure you don't spread the seeds." It's a lot of work, but well worth it to the students and to the school.

"I'm going to college," said Krick. "I plan on putting it towards that," he said of the share of $30,000 he might receive when and if the team wins the final chapter of the Lexus EcoChallenge.

The school will receive $10,000 for classroom purposes, and Sanborn will receive $10,000 for her agriscience curriculum.The students find out around the first week of April if they have won. They are competing with about 20 schools nation-wide in this section of the competition.

Read the full story at Link.


Rhode Island town takes aim at invasive beach grass

Asian sedge is taking over dunes; eradication set to begin soon

By Ted Hayes,

MIDDLETOWN, RI — No one knows for sure how it got here, but one thing is certain: An invasive species of Asian beach grass that’s creeped up around Sachuest Beach over the last few years is causing big headaches for those in charge of overseeing the scenic stretch of waterfront.

Middletown town officials will take a big step toward fixing the problem Wednesday when they open four bids submitted by companies that hope to win the job of eradicating the grass. The job, to spray areas around the Sachuest Point Road dunes that have already succumbed to the fast-moving grass with herbicide, is expected to take months to complete. Once the bids are reviewed, the Middletown Town Council is expected to approve one on Thursday, April 6.

“We’d like to get started (spraying) soon after,” said Middletown town engineer Warren Hall.

That’s not a moment too soon, according to the chairman of the Middletown Beach Commission.

Rian Wilkinson has watched the grass — most likely Carex kobomugi — grow steadily across the beach’s dunes for several years now, and it seemed to grow fast last year. It’s cropped up along the campground area to boardwalks 1, 2 and 8, he said.

The low-clinging grass is easy to spot, lying low, yellow-green, in contrast to the taller, darker native grass it’s competing with. But it’s not just an aesthetic problem, he said. The grass chokes out the other species of native grass and since it doesn’t have deep roots, it will eventually lead the dunes’ erosion, he said.

“It just takes over everything else and the dunes suffer,” he said. “It seems to have dug in over the past few years.”

Town officials received approval from the state Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) last year to remove the grass. Mr. Hall said treating it could be a long process.

The grass will be sprayed with a Roundup-type solution with a surfactant and coloring agent added that will keep it from running off and will make it easy to determine where it’s been sprayed.

Officials plan to treat the grass at least three times. Mr. Hall said the first treatment in April should remove about 10 percent of the grass. The second should remove another 50 percent, and the third the remaining 40 percent.

“It’s one of those things where you don’t know how effective the treatments are going to be until you do it,” he said.

That will be the scope of this project, he said. Longer-term, though, a second phase will involve stabilizing formerly infected dunes with erosion control features, and then re-planting native beach grasses.

The project is being funded by the Town of Middletown. Mr. Hall declined to comment on the expected cost until after the bids have been reviewed.

Read the full story at Link.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Week of March 16, 2009

Updated 3/20

Vitex eradication effort gains traction

Group tallies past year's accomplishments

By Gareth McGrath,

Fort Fisher, North Carolina - The invasive plant has been discovered in Virginia and in places in North Carolina thought to be vitex-free.

But that's not necessarily a bad thing, since it shows that the educational and outreach efforts of the Carolinas Beach Vitex Task Force about the menace posed by the foreign invader are working.

It also shows, however, that there's a lot of work to do to eradicate the shrub. It is native to the Pacific Rim and was once viewed as the savior of the coast, but it's turned out to be a huge biological menace.

On Friday members of the task force gathered at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher to celebrate the past year's successes and discuss the remaining challenges facing the multi-state effort to eradicate beach vitex.

Among the 2008 accomplishments included getting North Carolina to declare beach vitex a noxious weed, making it illegal to be sold or possessed by nurseries or individuals, and securing a $128,000 grant for coastal eradication and educational efforts.

But Melanie Doyle, the state's beach vitex task force coordinator and horticulturist at the aquarium, said there's been an even bigger success over the past year.

"What I'm most proud about is nothing's been mandated by anyone," she said, ticking off the local and voluntary support up and down the coast that the task force has received in promoting eradication efforts. "This has all come about because of people who care."

But with greater awareness of the threat posed by vitex has come the reality of how big the problem is in North Carolina.

"We've got vitex in the northern part of the state," said Dale Suiter, a Raleigh-based biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "Just a year ago, we didn't know that."

So far there are more than 400 known locations, including worrisome outbreaks along inland waterways that dramatically increases the amount of shoreline to survey. Link


Fire service's newest toy burns invading grasses on Mullica River, NJ


WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, NJ - The thumping sound of helicopter blades preceded the state Forest Fire Service’s Bell 206 JetRanger as it flew south over the Mullica River and turned to survey Hog Island, where it burned 132 acres of reeds Friday morning.

Hanging out the side was Rob Gill, an aerial ignition specialist, who would be operating the service’s new fire-starting device mounted to the helicopter, “The Red Dragon.”

Generically referred to as a plastic-sphere dispenser, the dragon is filled with paintball-like orbs containing potassium permanganate. When turned on, the machine injects the balls with antifreeze and drops them to the ground, where the mixture of chemicals bursts into flames about a minute later.

The group recently cooperated with the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife to spray herbicide over an infestation of phragmites, and is now paying the fire service a few thousand dollars to burn the invasive plants away to make room for native flora and fauna.

“Global warming aside, phragmites is the No. 1 threat to the health of our estuaries,” said Emile DeVito, manager of science for the NJ Conservation Foundation, who was familiar with Friday’s project. “It basically consumes all the habitat and virtually wipes out all the species.”

On the Atlantic County bank of the river, a crowd of trucks and people assembled to watch the blaze. A red fire service truck was parked near an Egg Harbor City police SUV in case the fire jumped the water, and a couple other pickup trucks were around from the locals fishing.

Continued at Link


Weed removal money sought in Massachusetts

By JOHN APPLETON, The Republican

BRIMFIELD, MA - The Lake Sherman Association is asking the town for financial help while also seeking grants to cover the $10,300 cost of removing invasive weeds which have been dramatically spreading the past few years.

Association president Robert Chevalier said the $10,300 figure is based on a price quote from Lycott Environmental, Inc., of Southbridge, MA for a chemical treatment this spring to wipe out what has been identified as aquatic variegated milfoil.

The 55-member lake association is basing its case for financial assistance from the town in part on the fact that the town has a boat launch at the pond and that people go in swimming from the launch area.

"It's a landmark for the town and for anyone who is close to this town," said David W. McVeigh, a member of the association.

"We are trying to preserve it in any way we can," McVeigh said.

The association has applied to the Norcross Foundation for a grant for the weed eradication work and is considering other grant possibilities.

"We have been working on trying to get funding for three or four years," said Janet L. Hastings, the association vice president. Association members told the selectmen last week that the weeds already interfere with swimming and boating and, if left unchecked, they can spread to the point of choking the lake, which is only 12 feet deep at its deepest point. Link


Waging war on invasive plants in Connecticut

By Keila Torres,

Invasive plants are taking over the state's parklands and killing off native species, throwing fragile eco-systems into turmoil as wildlife is starved of its natural food source.

Invasive species -- including Oriental bittersweet and Japanese barberry -- have become a widespread problem around the state, said Todd Mervosh, a weed scientist for the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven.

This year, the state Department of Environmental Protection is offering cities and towns grants to get rid of the annoying, non-native plants that have cropped up and taken root here.

The invasive species "are displacing the native vegetation, the plants that have always been here as part of our ecological system," Mervosh said. "There are a lot of animal species that co-exist with these native species, that depend on them."

Oriental bittersweet, an Asian vine with yellow fruit that entwines itself around other plants, is considered by many the "worst invasive plant in the state," he said.

Richard Tiani, executive director of Groundwork Bridgeport, said a group of Harding High School students working with his agency has also found a lot of Japanese barberry -- a vine that wraps around trees -- during their cleanup efforts in Bridgeport's parks and in surrounding towns.

"Over time it becomes so strong and heavy that it kills trees and pulls them down," Tiani said of the invasive plant.

The Harding "Green Team," working with Groundwork Bridgeport as paid summer interns, is partnering this year with the city of Bridgeport in a project to remove a multiflora rose and garlic mustard infestation in Veterans Memorial Park.

The city is seeking a $49,236 grant from the DEP to clean up a section of the 107-acre park. Another section of the park and wetlands, near the proposed Discovery Magnet School, will be cleaned up as part of the $31 million inter-district school project.

Getting rid of invasive plants is essential to preserving the city's parklands and wildlife, officials say.

Continued at Link


Congress Approves Funds For Invasive Species Prevention

By KBJR News 1

Congress has granted nearly 1–million dollars to help slow the spread of invasive species into the Great Lakes Chain.

President Obama signed the bill into law this week, which will help researchers test various ways to treat ballast water before it's discharged into the lakes.

For more than 20 years invasive species have hitch hiked their way into the Great Lakes causing a wide range of economic and environmental problems.

From clogging water pipes to interfering with the lake's natural ecology, many environmental agencies have worked hard to slow the spread of these exotic pests.

The new funding will go towards the Great Ships Initiative which aims to do just that.

"The goal of the great ships initiative is to try to find ballast water treatment methods so that the water can be cleaned or sterilized before it is transported between one place to another."

Continued at Link


Henry Hudson's majestic view altered by invasives

By Michael Risinit,

PHILIPSTOWN, NY - The slice of the Hudson River visible from a bluff on Little Stony Point in Philipstown probably appears much as it did to Henry Hudson and his crew aboard the Half Moon 400 years ago...

...The river was full of fish to levels that are just about unimaginable today," said Fran Dunwell, director of the state's Hudson River Estuary Program. "It was a very rich natural environment."

Dunwell recently wrote "The Hudson America's River." Waterfowl and other birds, she said, darkened the sky where they flew. Oak trees grew 70 feet tall without knots, perfect for shipbuilding. The banks, according to Juet, contained a "great store of goodly Oakes and Wal-nut trees and Chest-nut trees. Ewe trees and trees of sweet wood in great abundance, and great store of slate for houses, and other good stones."

Marshes lined most of the river, not just at Piermont, Iona Island and a few other places as they do today. Chairmaker's rush, horned pondweeds and umbrella sedge are gone, replaced by cattails and phragmites (aka common reed).

But seeds from the original plants are found in sediment cores pulled from the existing marshes, said Dorothy Peteet, a NASA senior researcher and an adjunct scientist with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University in Palisades.

"We can see back in time," Peteet said. "I think it was vastly different. You had this diversity which would have gone up the food chain."

Read the full article at Link


American chestnut ready to reign again


After decades of selective breeding and countless hours of fieldwork, researchers believe they have developed an American chestnut tree that is ready to reclaim the Appalachian forests.

The first batch of these blight-resistant chestnut seedlings arrived recently at a greenhouse on the agricultural campus of the University of Tennessee, where workers trimmed the roots and identified each tree with a numbered tag.

The trees -- 1,200 in all -- were planted in three Southern national forests as a groundbreaking experiment to determine if decades of crossbreeding have produced a chestnut tree that is blight-resistant yet retains the superior timber qualities of the American chestnut tree.

"This is the very first planting of the final generation and the culmination of a lot of hard work," said Scott Schlarbaum, forest geneticist with the UT Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries.

The trees were grown in a Georgia nursery in cooperation with the American Chestnut Foundation, an organization dedicated to restoring the American chestnut.

The American chestnut accounted for 25 percent of all the trees in the Appalachian mountains until a blight virtually eliminated them between 1904 and 1950.

Today, the airborne bark fungus still survives and kills virtually all American chestnuts by the time they've reached 20 feet in height.

For more than 30 years, the American Chestnut Foundation has been crossing Chinese chestnuts, which are naturally resistant to the blight, with American chestnuts to produce a super hybrid that can be reintroduced in the wild. Only American chestnuts that demonstrate natural blight resistance qualify for the breeding program, and scientists have been careful to breed trees from local environments.

Of the 1,200-year-old chestnut seedlings brought to the UT greenhouse, 500 were the blight-resistant hybrids. The remaining trees were either pure American chestnut, pure Chinese chestnut or hybrid trees from an intermediate back-cross generation.

Earlier this year, the 4-foot-tall seedlings were planted on national forest lands throughout the Southern Appalachian region. In the coming years, researchers will regularly monitor the trees for blight resistance, mortality and growth characteristics.

Stacy Clark, research forester for the Forest Service's Southern Research Station, said American chestnuts were renowned for their straight-grained wood and rapid growth rate.

"We want these trees to be blight-resistant, but also competitive," Clark said. "They're going out into the forest where they'll have to grow quickly to get above the deer browse, and compete with species like yellow poplar and red maple."

The goal of the American Chestnut Foundation was to breed a blight-resistant tree that is genetically 94 percent American chestnut. The foundation chose the Southern Appalachians as the proving ground for the final generation of seedlings because the region was once a stronghold for the American chestnut.

Clark, who leads the study for the U.S. Forest Service, said she is especially excited about two milestones in the trees' development: the fourth year of growth, which will reveal if the trees have held their own against competing species; and years 10 through 20, when American chestnuts normally succumb to the blight.

"If the trees are blight-resistant, we'll definitely know by that time," Clark said.

The chestnut blight robbed the Eastern forest of its undisputed champion. American chestnuts routinely grew 4 feet across and 120 feet high, and lived for centuries. The nuts were an important food source for a wide range of wildlife, and the rot-resistant wood was a prized building material.

Clark said that if the final generation of crossbred chestnuts survives in the national forests, this will raise great hopes about other species, like hemlocks and ash trees, that are being destroyed by nonnative pests.

"If we can restore this tree to its natural habitat, it will be the greatest success story in natural resource conservation," Clark said. Link


Local anglers weigh in on aquatic weed control in Tennessee

Daimon Duggar,

Though many in Marion County are disappointed with last year’s decision by the Tennessee Valley Authority’s to discontinue aquatic weed control in the Nickajack reservoir, there is another segment of the community that couldn’t be happier: Fishermen.

According to a number of local fishermen and those in the fishing industry, TVA’s aquatic weed control program presents a danger to one of the area’s most popular sports and pastimes.

Last Saturday, March 7, dozens of fishermen and fishing enthusiasts gathered at Sullivan’s Landing on Highway 41 for the annual Grassmasters fishing tournament. The name of the competition says it all and reflects the opinion of many regarding the indispensable nature of aquatic growth as it relates to fishing.

“(Aquatic weed control) is really hard on the fish,” said fisherman Darren “Dobie” Kilgore. “It kills grass on humps. If they only did it in channels it wouldn’t be a big deal.”

A common complaint among fishermen is that the weed control program is non-selective. In addition to killing invasive exotic species, many feel, the long standing program also killed native aquatic grasses that allow the reservoirs variety of fish, including large mouth bass, to thrive.

“Grass helps the whole ecosystem. We used to have a good bank but not any more. It has been bad for 10 years,” said Marion County resident and fisherman Roger Kendrick...

...Avid fisherman and stakeholder Jim Henry worries that TVA’s discontinuance of their weed control problem will be more of a detriment to fishing than would unfettered growth however.

“It’s a mess and its going to be a lot worse,” said Henry. “There’s a lot of spots that you won’t be able to get to now. Mullin’s cove, for example. It was already hard to navigate it. This year I think its going to be impossible. This year will absolutely be worse.”

Only time will tell the wisdom of TVA’s new policy. But for fishermen and stakeholders alike, aquatic weed control in the Nickajack Reservoir will continue to be a growing problem.

Read the full article at Link


South East Exotic Pest Plant Council 11th Annual Symposium

Creating Sustainable Landscapes for the Future

May 13-15, 2009
Quality Inn and Suites
Georgetown, SC

Agenda and Registration available online. Go to for all conference information.

Deadline to Register and Reserve hotel room: April 13, 2009.

Plenary speaker topics to include:

- Raising funds for your invasive species project
- Innovative approaches to effective invasive programs through partnerships
- Invasive plants from the perspective of the nursery/landscape industry

Other topics addressed through platform presentations and field trips include:
- Current research in invasive plant control and land restoration
- Building communication and consensus among key players
- Building cooperative weed and invasive species management areas
- Early Detection and Rapid Response efforts
- Control of tidal marsh invasives (ie. Chinese tallow, phragmites)
- And more!

Wonderful fieldtrips, workshops, and social events planned!


'Red Baron' Nabbed In Baltimore

WBAL Radio as reported by Scott Wykoff

A Customs and Border Protection plant seed interception was confirmed on Monday (3/9/09) as the Baltimore area’s first reported discovery of cogon grass weed seed, aka Red Baron grass seed, and just as the legendary Red Baron was a menace to allied fighters during World War I, Red Baron grass has become a despised invasive weed throughout parts of the United States.

During a routine inspection on Friday at the Baltimore seaport, CBP agriculture specialists discovered weed seeds littered among non-compliant wood packing in a container of travertine tile that arrived from Turkey. On Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture pest identifier database determined the seeds to be Imperata cylindrica, or cogon grass, a Federal Noxious Weed, and confirmed that this is Baltimore’s first Red Baron seed report.

According to the USDA, cogon grass is an invasive weed from Asia that spreads quickly and disrupts ecosystems, reduces wildlife habitat and can decrease tree seedling growth and establishment. Cogon grass is considered one of the 10 worst invasive plant species in the world and is listed as a federal noxious weed. Cogon grass is believed to have invaded more than one million acres in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and Texas.

“This interception is a significant find for our agriculture specialists, and it further illustrates our continued commitment to protect America’s agriculture industry and our economy from invasive insect pests and plants,” said James Swanson, CBP Port Director for the Port of Baltimore. “Invasive species pose dire consequences on our nation’s economy, potentially more so than even a single terrorist act could have.”

CBP issued an Emergency Action Notification to the importer to immediately re-export the container. Link


Call for volunteers in Virginia for first Invasive Plant Removal Day on May 2

( - Volunteers are needed across the Commonwealth to help remove invasive plants that are wreaking havoc on Virginia’s landscape. The Virginia Master Naturalists and the Virginia Native Plant Society are seeking help Saturday, May 2nd at locations throughout Virginia in the first ever Invasive Plant Removal Day.

“From kudzu to English Ivy to tree of heaven, there are dozens of invasive species that are causing both ecological and economical harm,” said Michelle Prysby, Virginia Master Naturalist coordinator. “These invasive plants out-compete native species for the same resources, eventually harming trees, wildlife and water quality.”

The Virginia Native Plant Society and the Virginia Master Naturalists are sponsoring this event. Activities are being coordinated locally, and interested people can learn more about how and where they can help by going to .


Feds release invaders to save native plants


They're using new invaders to devour old ones. And while these weevils gobble, they won't wolf down the plants that belong in Florida.

To give native plants a fighting chance, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this year announced a $16.6 million plan to send at least 14 invasive bug species on seek-and-destroy missions.

Biologists would set the insects free -- some just a few miles from Brevard County -- along 18,000 square miles from south of Orlando to the Florida Reef Tract in an effort to preserve the character of the Everglades.

They say the bugs will spread to the Space Coast and beyond. And they assure their introduction won't trigger further ecological harm.

"You don't let these things go and . . . forget about them," said Donald Strong, an ecologist and "biocontrol" expert at the University of California, Berkeley. "In the large majority of cases, the insects are chosen and put through rigorous tests based on the fact that they don't attack other things."

The invasive insects in coming years would control Florida's massive problem with melaleuca, Brazilian pepper, Old World climbing fern and Australian pine...

...The insects won't completely wipe out the targeted trees, just keep them in check. That could take two decades or longer.

The melaleuca weevil, for example, can eat away about 98 percent of the tree's seed production, said Ted Center, research leader in Davie.

"What we're basically doing is biologically sterilizing the tree. We're not eliminating the plant. We're neutering it," Center said...

...In addition to melaleuca, the Corps proposes to fight three other notorious invasive plants with insects.

Brazilian pepper: Unlike melaleuca, no one's quite sure how it got here. Most credit a doctor in Port Charlotte. Fond of how the tree looked, he raised hundreds of them in the 1920s, passing them to friends. The Corps hopes a sawfly, a thrips and a weevil can undo the doctor's good work.

Old World climbing fern: Two moths, a gall mite and a stem borer will tackle this much more recent invasion. A Delray Beach nursery introduced the fern -- a native of Africa, Asia and Australia -- in the late 1950s.

Australian pine: A seed wasp planned for release in the next few years holds the most promise to battle back the Australian pine, introduced to Florida in the late 1800s.

Although some past "biocontrols" grew into problems themselves, government biologists assure their extreme caution and long, careful study make these insects the best way to restore a more natural state.

Read the full article at Link


U.S. Birds Struggling to Survive

WASHINGTON, DC, March 19, 2009 (ENS) - Nearly one-third of the more than 800 bird species in the United States are endangered, threatened or in decline due to climate change, habitat loss, and invasive species, finds the first comprehensive report ever produced on U.S. bird populations.

At a news conference in Washington today, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar released the report, which was developed by a partnership among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, state government wildlife agencies and nongovernmental organizations...

"Just as they were when Rachel Carson published "Silent Spring" nearly 50 years ago, birds today are a bellwether of the health of land, water and ecosystems," Salazar said. "From shorebirds in New England to warblers in Michigan to songbirds in Hawaii, we are seeing disturbing downward population trends that should set off environmental alarm bells. We must work together now to ensure we never hear the deafening silence in our forests, fields and backyards that Rachel Carson warned us about."

...Invasive plants and animals are major threats. Domestic and feral cats kill hundreds of millions of birds each year. Island nesting birds, particularly seabirds, are vulnerable since they nest on the ground or in burrows and are preyed upon by rats, foxes, cats, dogs, and mongooses.

Read the full article at Link

Monday, March 9, 2009

Week of March 9, 2009

Updated 3/13/09

Hemlock woolly adelgid workshop in the Finger Lakes region

An insect pest newly arrived in the Finger Lakes region, NY -- the hemlock woolly adelgid – was recently discovered in the Cornell Plantations area of Cascadilla Gorge and in the Beebe Lake natural areas and is threatening hemlock trees and the biodiversity they support. This Asian species has decimated hemlock populations across the eastern United States, where altered habitats – due to the loss of the hemlocks – have caused a cascade of environmental changes for some amphibians, fish, invertebrates and plants in response to increased light and warmer temperatures.

The hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae) causes nearly 100 percent mortality in the native eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis). The small, aphid-like insects feed on the sap at the base of individual needles on the trees; eventually needles yellow and drop, branches die, and trees succumb in about four to 10 years.

Hemlock woolly adelgids were first reported in the central Finger Lakes region in mid-2008, and they now inhabit at least 19 local sites. Early detection of new sites of infestation is now a high priority, and local conservation groups are organizing volunteer surveys as a critical first step in managing this devastating invasive species.

Cornell Plantations, Cornell Cooperative Extension, the Cornell Department of Natural Resources, the Finger Lakes Land Trust, and the Finger Lakes Native Plant Society are organizing three workshops aimed at training volunteers to identify and report new hemlock woolly adelgid infestations. Each two-hour session will feature a presentation by Mark Whitmore from the Cornell Department of Natural Resources on the adelgid’s biology and the threat it poses to local hemlock forests. Participants will visit Beebe Lake to observe hemlock woolly adelgids firsthand and gain experience in detection and survey protocols. Participants will also have the opportunity to volunteer in the "Adopt-a-Hemlock" program to conduct surveys and report new infestations in local hemlock forests.

The training workshops will be held at Cornell Plantations’ Lewis Education Center, located at One Plantations Road on the Cornell campus, on Friday, March 13, at 1 p.m.; Saturday, March 21, at 10 p.m.; and Monday, March 23, at 3 p.m. To register for the training workshops, or for more information on the hemlock woolly adelgid, visit Additional information and instructions on reporting new infestations can also be found at the New York Invasive Species Research Institute website


Workers attack invasive plants on Thousand Islands

By Jim Waymer,

COCOA BEACH, FL -- The Aussies must go.

Tall Australian pines fell this week along Fourth Street to clear way for natives.

Brevard County's estimated $400,000 plan will remove the exotic pines and other invasive species along Fourth Street and the nearby Thousand Islands to replace them with trees and plants that belong here.

The city stands to lose a little slice of Australia, and, for the time being, some spots in the shade. But biologists say the gains in wildlife, erosion control and rekindled natural heritage should far outweigh the temporary sentimental loss.

"Our children and our grandkids will have a much healthier group of islands out there to enjoy forever," former Cocoa Beach City Commissioner Tony Sasso said. He pushed for years to protect the cluster of tiny islands south of Minutemen Causeway in the Banana River Lagoon.

The felling of the exotic pines marked a milestone in a multiyear battle to restore the islands to their previous pristine glory.

The trees' downfall also echoed the controversial removal of Australian pines from Melbourne Causeway in 2005, when the Florida Department of Transportation removed about 200 Australian pines that had lined the causeway, some more than 50 years.

Biologists say Australian pines, introduced in the 1800s, harm the ecology because they create "monocultures" that crowd out native trees. They worsen erosion, as they displace deeper-rooted native plants. They also limit bird nesting and can be toxic to native wildlife.

The city of Cocoa Beach and conservationists pushed for years to get Brevard County to buy the islands to preserve them for paddlers, osprey and egrets, instead of dream homes.

Continued at Link


Hemlock-killing adelgids invade Tompkins County, NY

By Liz Lawyer,

ITHACA, NY - Cornell University is taking steps to identify new infestations of invasive insect species that destroy tree populations and have encroached on New York's borders.

The Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid and Asian Longhorned Beetle, tree-killers with a taste for maple, ash, hemlock and willow, have been discovered in new locations all over the Northeast. The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (pronounced uh-DEL-jid) is already known to be within Tompkins County. The infestation was first reported in July 2008.

Woolly adelgids were found around Cornell Plantations two weeks ago and last Wednesday in the Finger Lakes National Forest, for a total of 19 natural areas around Cayuga and Seneca Lakes, said Mark Whitmore, an entomologist with Cornell Cooperative Extension. The university has announced volunteer training sessions to help identify and report new infestations around Cornell and in Ithaca's gorges.

"The infestation is more widespread than we thought," Whitmore said. "We're doing the trainings basically because we want to know how widespread it is, so we can plan our response appropriately. This is a potentially devastating insect to the region's forests, and especially to hemlocks, which are a valuable resource in the region."

Part of the problem is that early stages of infestations by woolly adelgids are difficult to detect, so by the time they are found they have already been established for several years, Whitmore said.

"It's happening so fast," Bittner said. "Literally in the last week there have been two more places it's been found."

Continued at Link


Summer jobs in the Adirondack Park

Please be advised that there are paid summer positions currently open for the Adirondack Watershed Institute's Watershed Stewardship Program, sited at Paul Smith's College. These full-time positions involve educating the public about invasive species, inspecting boats for invasive organisms, collecting recreation demographic data and conducting field research, monitoring and service tasks. Applicants with backgrounds in the natural sciences, parks and recreation, environmental policy, and environmental studies are encouraged to apply, although all applications are welcome. To apply, visit this link:


Odum Conference 2009: reduced fee, new deadline

Odum Conference 2009, "Understanding and managing biological invasions as dynamic processes: integrating information across space and time,"
will be held April 30 – May 1, 2009.

Venue: The E.N. Huyck Preserve & Biological Research Station, and the Rensselaerville Meeting Center, both in a lovely, rural setting in Rensselaerville, New York, 25 miles from Albany.

This event will feature, as invited speakers, many of the most prominent figures in invasion ecology, management. For the speaker list, visit:

Additionally, the conference will include a poster session and field workshops. For a complete conference program, visit:

Theme: This conference will focus on: 1) incorporating a long-term perspective into invasion ecology and management; 2) developing specific mechanisms to assemble and evaluate the needed data; and 3) fostering a collaborative research-management approach in which broad patterns are used to yield specific management recommendations.

Poster Submissions: We are calling for abstracts for posters addressing one or more of the following themes: a) invasive species monitoring and database initiatives; b) collaborative undertakings between invasive species ecologists and managers; c) invasive species management activities that incorporate a dynamic aspect (e.g., climate change, natural enemy acquisition, interactions of multiple invasive species); and d) basic research on dynamic aspects of invasions. The deadline for abstract submission is now March 31, 2009. For submission procedures please visit:

Reduced-fee packages: In order to make this conference available to potential participants from agencies and institutions who now have severe financial constraints, we have arranged for new, reduced fee conference packages, as well as low-cost student housing at the E. N.
Huyck Preserve & Biological Research Station.

New deadlines: We have postponed both the registration and abstract submission deadlines to March 31 to give potential participants ample time to take advantage of this new opportunity.

To see the professional credits now available for attending the conference, visit:

For any other conference information go to: or contact us at:

Thank you very much,

Jonathan Rosenthal and Radka Wildova, Conference Co-Chairs Holly Menninger, Conference Coordinator


Mistaken Identity: Invasive Plants and Their Native Look-Alikes

Have you ever wondered how to tell the difference between native and invasive phragmites? How about native vs. invasive honeysuckles? Here is an excellent guide on invasive plants and their look-alikes for the mid-Atlantic states.


Town of East Hampton Cost of Grants Assessed

Board weighs outlay against needs of environment

By Joanne Pilgrim, The East Hampton Star

(03/12/2009) The status of environmental projects in East Hampton Town (Long Island, NY), for which the Natural Resources Department has obtained grants totaling $295,000, is under review by the town board, which, in light of a budget crisis, must determine “which grants we want to work on, and which are not worth pursuing,” according to Town Councilwoman Julia Prince, the board’s liaison to the department.

Two grant agreements that expired in 2001 and in 2003 were recently renewed by the State Department of Environmental Conservation at the town’s request “because of delays in the construction or implementation of the project,” according to a town board resolution.

To receive a $75,000 grant from the D.E.C. for aquatic habitat restoration, the town was to have completed $150,000 worth of work by Dec. 1, 2003. The tasks, some of which have been completed, included salt marsh revegetation, re-establishing eelgrass beds, damming ditches in tributaries for marsh water management, and clearing streams in Northwest to allow alewives to access breeding areas. The project also includes clearing 15 acres of phragmites growing in various harbors, creeks, and ponds, which has not yet been tackled.

The town has spent approximately $74,000 so far on the project. The new deadline for completing the tasks is Dec. 31, 2010. But town board members, discussing the issue at a meeting on Tuesday, questioned whether the “tremendous job” of removing 15 acres of phragmites could be accomplished.

A $15,000 grant for habitat restoration at Lake Montauk, which requires the town to spend $30,000 on phragmites removal and restoration efforts focused on alewives and eelgrass before the D.E.C. will kick in half, expired in October of 2001, but has been extended until the end of 2010. Link