Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Week of December 28, 2009

Happy New Year!

Invasive species cause $1.4 trillion of losses a year globally

FUZHOU, Nov. 6 (Xinhua, China) -- Scientists should intensify international collaboration to fight invasive species that are causing 1.4 trillion U.S. dollars of losses a year globally, said experts and officials who concluded an international congress on biological invasions here Friday.

The first-ever International Congress on Biological Invasions, held in Fuzhou, east China's Fujian Province, from Nov. 2 to 6, called on policymakers worldwide to pay closer attention to the threat.

A declaration adopted Friday also said they should be more aware of the links between biological invasions, biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystem services.

The Fuzhou Declaration on Biological Invasions also urged policymakers and scientists to focus on the interactions between climate change and biological invasions, and the threats of invasive species to biodiversity, food security, trade, human health and economic development.

At the congress, more than 500 experts from 44 countries heard the latest figures from China, which suggested more than 500 species were recognized as being invasive.

"About 300 of them have proven harmful," said Wan Fanghao, vice director with the Research Center for Invasive Alien Species Prevention and Control of China's Ministry of Agriculture

More than half of the 100 dangerous alien species listed by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) had been found in China, he said.

Read the full story at link.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Week of December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Special Report: The Exotic Menace (Florida)




Bat Deaths: Some Species At Risk Of Becoming Endangered

By RINKER BUCK The Hartford Courant
December 21, 2009

The die-off of bats in Connecticut and other Northeastern states is now so severe that federal wildlife officials consider it "the most precipitous decline of North American wildlife caused by infectious disease in recorded history."

Since 2006, when hibernating bats in a cave west of Albany were found coated with a chalky fungus, the so-called white-nose syndrome has hopscotched from New Hampshire to West Virginia, sometimes decimating entire caves in a single winter. Finding a remedy for the condition before the die-off reaches the huge bat habitats of Tennessee and Kentucky is considered vital because individual bats eat thousands of insects a night, providing a critical balance for nature.

In Connecticut, bats are dying off in such massive numbers that state and federal wildlife agencies might have to consider listing some species as endangered. In other states, where species such as the Indiana bat and the Virginia big-eared bat are already endangered, captive breeding programs might have to be introduced.

This fall, biologists from Pennsylvania and New York conducted "swarming counts" of bats as they congregated before entering their hibernating caves. These surveys have confirmed that many common species of bats are experiencing mortality rates of more than 90 percent. Biologists at Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection expect to confirm similar mortality rates when they conduct their hibernation counts in caves this winter.

The dire statistics for just one of Connecticut's most common species — the little brown bat — typify the plight of many bats. In 2007, at a Litchfield County cave that is one of Connecticut's largest hibernation sites, the population of little browns was 2,320. [...]

Scientists have identified the fungus coating the bats as Geomyces destructans, and federal research laboratories are close to completing studies to determine whether it is the same fungus often found in European caves. These findings could be important, because white-nose syndrome was first detected at Howe Caverns near Cobleskill, N.Y., a popular tourist site with more than 150,000 visitors a year. Establishing European origins for the fungus would help confirm that it was carried into the cave on the shoe or clothing of a foreign tourist, or perhaps by an American who had recently visited Europe, and then spread to the nearby bat habitat as an invasive species against which the bats had no natural protection.

But until the fungus is fully identified and scientists devise a way to combat it, they are forced to rely on stopgap measures to learn more about white-nose syndrome. [...]

Copyright © 2009, The Hartford Courant

Read the full story here.


Law would target boats that spread invasive plants

By Dayelin Roman droman@poststar.com | Posted: Sunday, December 20, 2009

Glen Falls, NY - Every summer as boaters launch their vessels in area lakes and rivers, residents concerned about the spread of invasive species stand by watching, according to Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward.

"We have a large number of concerned citizens and groups," she said.

But when boaters inadvertently carrying invasive species into a lake ignore advice to wash off their boats, activists have no recourse.

"They can’t tell them it’s illegal," Sayward, R-Willsboro, said.

The issue has prompted Sayward to propose a bill that would make the transfer of invasive species such as eurasian watermilfoil illegal between bodies of water.

The law would encourage activists to write down the boat’s identification number and send it in to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which would then assess a fine to the boat owner.

"How do we get the message out without a little bit of teeth?" Sayward said.

Last summer, the Fund for Lake George helped the Lake George Park Commission fund the removal of tons of eurasian watermilfoil from the southern basin of the lake. The Fund spent some $75,000 to employ a team of divers to hand-pick the plant off the bottom.

Milfoil, which cuts off sunlight and nutrients to native plants and makes swimming and boating unpleasant, is spread through boats that carry it from other bodies of water.

But milfoil is only one of a host of problem plants the law seeks to contain.

The Adirondack Park Agency passed a resolution supporting the bill in November, and has encouraged towns within the park to do the same.

"With approximately 138,000 New Yorkers who live and work in the Adirondack Park and 9 million visitors, we believe our rivers, streams, lakes and ponds are vital to our tourism economy and community and environmental health," an e-mail from APA Chairman Curt Stiles to the town of Chester states. "We believe there is an urgent need to control the movement of existing and new aquatic invasive species in the Adirondack Park."

Keith McKeever, a spokesman for the APA, said invasive species diminish recreational opportunities in water and can sometimes turn into a thick mat that won’t allow boats through.

At a Chester Town Board meeting on Dec. 8, officials passed a resolution to support the legislation, but wondered whether it was enforceable.

"I know its going to be a difficult thing to enforce," Town Supervisor Fred Monroe said. Councilman Michael Packer nodded his head in agreement.

But Sayward said DEC has the resources to enforce it and send staff to boat launches.

"The people are on the ground already," she said.

And since the law will be attached to penalties and fines for those who break it, the generation of revenue is a possibility, she said.

"People will understand we have a huge problem with invasives," Sayward said.

Read the story at link.


Massachusetts ALB news

Starting Dec. 17, the USDA is seeking bids from contractors interested in assisting with the chemical treatment of trees within the quarantine zone (trunk injections), in order to protect the trees from ALB. Deadline 1/20/10: Link


Monday, December 14, 2009

Week of December 14, 2009

Updated 12/17

Moreau, NY tackles threat posed by invasive plant species

By PAUL POST, The Saratogian

MOREAU, NY — A local environmental group is taking steps to control invasive plant species that it says threaten habitat for birds and other wildlife.

The Moreau Conservation Advisory Council hopes to employ strategies ranging from education to eradication.

For example, the town Planning Board could urge developers not to landscape with harmful plants, while the town Highway Department could remove invasive plants found along local roads.

“It’s a huge problem not only locally, but statewide and nationwide,” council Secretary Ramona Bearor said. “It affects everything — birds, insects and animals that depend on native plants in some way.”

Specifically, she cited three types of invasive species that are causing problems.

One is Japanese knotweed, sometimes called “American bamboo.” Found in the wild, it spreads rapidly. One place it’s taking over is along the Betar Bikeway bordering the Hudson River in South Glens Falls.

Japanese barberry, often used by developers in housing development common areas, is another invasive species, along with the popular burning bush. Each plant produces thousands of seeds that birds eat and spread in their droppings. Seeds quickly take root and force out existing vegetation, changing soil composition in the process. [...]

Bearor said Moreau is the first town in Saratoga County to take a proactive approach in controlling the invasive plant species. The nine-member council was first organized last spring and appointed by the Town Board, as called for in the town’s master plan. [...]

Read the full article at link.


Editorial: Why the delay on rules halting invasive species?


The wheels of government grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small. The wheels of the U.S. Coast Guard apparently just grind slowly.

More than 20 years after the first zebra mussels found their way into the Great Lakes in the belly of ocean-going tankers, the Coast Guard has come up with regulations to deal with such non-native aquatic life.

But it will be nearly six years before the rules take full effect, and some ships may not have to comply with them until 2021.

The timetable set by the Coast Guard calls for feasibility studies to be performed prior to the rules taking effect.

But we've known for some time now how the problem began.

Zebra mussels, and many of the more than 180 other invasive species that found their way into the Great Lakes in the last two decades, arrived here in the ballast water that the tankers take in for stability when traveling on open water and that is later discharged when they arrive. [...]

The frustrating thing for Wisconsin and other states bordering the Great Lakes is that the call went out years ago for treatment or cleansing of ballast water in order to kill non-native plant and animal life before it is discharged.

But the Coast Guard dragged its feet and there was little pressure put on the agency by Congress to take action. This forced Wisconsin and other Great Lakes states to come up with their own rules in the interim when it would have been much more effective to have a national standard that all ships would have to meet.

Congress must put pressure on the Coast Guard to step up the pace on effective rules to guard against further damage to the Great Lakes.

Waiting even another two years is too long. Strict rules against invasive species must be in place no later than 2012.

Read the editorial a link.


Update on DEC's wild boar war in Central New York: They're still out there and moving around

By David Figura/The Post-Standard

In his office, Moravia businessman Andy Boos proudly displays the head mount of the 320-pound black Russian boar he shot three years ago on his property in Spafford.

“I was out deer hunting at the time and this animal came running through the bushes,” he said. “It sounded like a Mack truck. It appeared about 80 yards away at a full run. I took one shot with a handgun (a Thompson Contender 308) and he came down in a pile.”

It’s the kind of story that makes some state Department of Environmental Conservation officials and property owners in the Scott/Spafford area grimace.
In the past few years, the area has been deluged with out-of-towners calling and stopping by to see where they can hunt wild boar. Most of the property in the area has been posted by farmers and other property owners, and trespassing has been a real problem, some farmers said.

“Personally, I think it’s highly overrated,” said John Wanish, owner of J. Dubs Gas and Grub convenience store, along Route 41 in the town of Scott. Nevertheless, the store’s bulletin board has several pictures of wild hogs shot by locals in recent years.

“I’ve had them (hunters) come and stop by the store as far away is Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York City,” he said. “Apparently, there must be a Web site on it or something.”

The DEC has been actively involved the past several years in attempts to clear the invasive species off the area landscape. The animals are believed to have escaped from a private pay-to-hunt game farm nearly a decade ago and are spreading.

The state’s position, as reflected in this year’s DEC hunting and trapping guide is that feral swine are a harmful, invasive species and need to be eradicated. For the past two years, local DEC officials have been trapping the animals at undisclosed private and public properties.

While casual or “opportunistic” shooting of individual boars by, for example, deer hunters isn’t discouraged, local DEC officials are standing by previous statements that systematic hunting — or pursuit — of groups of the animals tends to spread them and make their populations more vigorous.

Is the DEC, which is working with other agencies such as the Cortland Soil and Water District and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the issue, winning the wild boar war? Evidently not, said many local residents who were interviewed in recent weeks. Many said it’s time to call off the battle and stop spending state money on the effort. [...]

This year’s DEC hunting guide for the first time (page 20) notes their presence locally and in other parts of the state, and reminds hunters that all they need is a license that’s valid for hunting small game to shoot feral pigs.

They’re considered “unprotected wildlife.” There’s no season, no take limits or time-of-day restrictions. General hunting rules, such as the distance one can discharge a firearm from a building, still apply. (For more, see pages 16-17 of the DEC hunting guide). [...]

What’s the problem with wild pigs?

DEC officials say they are capable of wreaking havoc on plant life, native animal species and water quality in wetlands and streams, in addition to causing extensive crop damage and carrying various diseases transmissable to wildlife. If you’ve seen or shot a wild boar, contact the DEC at mlputnam[at]gw.dec.state.ny.us or call 607-753-3095, ext. 296.

Are they dangerous to humans?

Like domestic pigs, females are very protective of their young. The state Department of Conservation only has one report locally, though, of a man being attacked by a wild boar. Greg Piercey, formerly of Scott (now living in Kentucky), was building a deer hunting treestand in 2006 when he notice that Red, his golden retriever, had “gotten into it” with a wild boar piglet, according to Piercey’s ex-wife, Kathy. Piercey got down from the tree and started beating the sow with a piece of wood. A piglet ran up to Piercey, “shredded his pants” and bit him on the leg. “He had to have rabies shots,” she said.

Read the full story at link.


The Exotic Menace
Non-native species invade land, water

Environment Writer

A growing worldwide trade in exotic plants and animals, fueled by a fascination with the rare and beautiful, often wreaks havoc on Florida's native plants and animals and costs the nation billions each year.

"America has a love affair with exotic species, but unfortunately it has a dark side," said Don Schmitz, a research program manager with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. "Go down to Miami International Airport. It's amazing what comes in on a daily basis from overseas."

The list includes tropical flowers, colorful fish, scorpions and spitting cobras.

Though the imports can start harmlessly as pretty plants or cool pets, far too many wind up in the wild, becoming a growing exotic menace that some say is the single biggest threat to the nation's protected species.

Many scientists consider Florida ground zero in the invasion with more exotic imports arriving daily and more protected species at risk than anywhere else except Hawaii. Hundreds of nonnative species flourish in the wild.

"In a decade or two, the ecology of the state of Florida is not going to be what we've known all our lives," said Herky Huffman of Enterprise, a former wildlife commissioner. "It's going to be changed by all these exotic species."


People have long traded in goods such as seeds, plants and animals. But an explosion in global trade and Internet sales triggered a more rapid and prolific exchange. Overall, more than 50,000 species of plants, animals and microbes have been introduced to the United States.

Tom Jackson, an exotic species specialist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Florida, calls it "the great experiment."

"We're moving a staggering number of (species) from disparate places to our lands, and sometimes waters, at a speed never before accomplished," Jackson said. And much of it happens with little oversight.

That troubles conservation scientists who fear invasive species are threatening natural ecosystems. A plant or animal becomes "invasive" when it thrives and reproduces in new surroundings and harms native plants and animals, placing them at risk of extinction.

Most species brought to the United States are beneficial rather than invasive, including cattle and crops such as rice.

But when exotics escape or are released into the wild and face no natural predators, they can cause major problems. For example, imported mussels disrupt shipping in the Great Lakes. Yellow star thistle invades thousands of acres of native grasslands in California.

Florida, however, with up to 100,000 pythons roaming in the Everglades, is considered by some the poster child for "really creepy invasives."

Some scientists believe the huge snakes could move into Central Florida. Dozens of other nonnative reptiles and amphibians thrive in the state's temperate and subtropical climates.

The invasives "impact our lifestyles, our economies, our natural areas and our native species," said Doria Gordon, director of conservation science for The Nature Conservancy in Florida. If Floridians want to know how exotic invasive species can affect them, most need go no farther than their own lawn, Gordon said. "We all care about fire ants in a big way."

But the menace reaches far beyond front yards.

Exotic armored catfish imported to eat algae in aquariums invade the Blue Spring run and plague manatees that swim there. Plants such as hydrilla and hyacinth clog tributaries to the St. Johns River and other waterways, closing some to boating traffic. Acres of native plants disappear beneath a creeping forest of aggressive Old World climbing fern.

An Asian beetle brought laurel wilt fungus to red bay trees near Savannah, Ga., in 2002. It decimated red bays around Jacksonville, mowed down trees in Palm Coast and was found this year in Daytona Beach.

Similar problems nationwide leave nearly half the country's 958 protected species at risk from competition by exotics, according to a study by Cornell University professor David Pimentel and colleagues.

Invasives cost the country more than $137 billion a year in damage and containment efforts, the study concluded. That's one dollar for every $8 worth of food grown and nearly double what the nation spends annually on cancer treatment. Florida property owners and agencies spend more than $600 million a year. [...]


Jenkins and other conservation scientists say legislation and rule changes are needed urgently to limit the flow of invasive, exotic species, build a coordinated nationwide effort to determine the extent of the problem and repair the damage.

They hope to enlist others in the battle to contain and control exotics, including legislators who could funnel more money to combat the problem. They hope to convince backyard gardeners to plant natives and to stop owners of exotic pets from releasing them into the wild. [...]

Efforts to restrict trade and exotic pet ownership meet heavy resistance.

"You have to have some pretty major evidence that something is going to be a problem before you can get it prohibited," said Bill Haller, acting director of the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants at the University of Florida.

Progress toward a zealous national effort to control exotics has been slow, but the call for action took on new urgency after July 1. That's when a Sumter County family's pet Burmese python strangled a toddler. Officials say the python was improperly caged and the family didn't have a permit.

The resulting nationwide headlines made threats posed by exotic animals a "very major issue," Haller said.

People who have pushed for more stringent regulations for years hope the child's tragic death may finally bring change to aging laws they say fail to protect the nation. They hope to make it more difficult to import problem-causing species.

A U.S. Senate committee on Thursday approved a bill that would ban import and interstate shipment of nine large constrictor and python species.

Proponents of exotic pet and plant ownership and some scientists fear the rush to new legislation and rule changes might unfairly hinder trade, limit personal freedom, and create an underground black market that could make matters worse.

The industry agrees the issue needs attention, said Marshall Meyers, chief executive officer for the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council. However, change should come from a scientific assessment of individual species and not on an emotional legislative "quick fix," he said. [...]

Read the article at link.


Vegetation having deleterious effect on Lake Takanassee in Long Branch, NJ


LONG BRANCH — For decades, Pete Bacinski visited Lake Takanassee in pursuit of his hobby — bird-watching — and for his livelihood, as sanctuary director of the New Jersey Audubon Society's Sandy Hook Bird Observatory.

The observatory's senior naturalist Scott Barnes more than two years ago noticed a small amount of what appeared to be an invasive plant species blooming in two small ponds near the railroad tracks at the lake that marks the boundary between West End and Elberon.

"We worried about it, but since it didn't spread anywhere else, we didn't take it into major consideration," Bacinski said.

In March, the situation had not changed much from their first view of it. But the situation would not stay stable for long.

"In October, when I saw this plant growing in all parts of the lake, it really scared me," Bacinski said. "It all happened in a seven-month period."

For Bacinski, the other Audubon members and birding hobbyists, this is really about how the vegetation affects the lake's use by avian life.

"It is a great waterfowl stopover and wintering area," explained Bacinski, of Atlantic Highlands. He suspected the problem vegetation might be parrotweed, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture lists as an invasive noxious weed.

John A. Tiedemann, a specialist professor of marine and environmental biology within Monmouth University's School of Science, had another idea. In September, he finished co-writing a report for the school's Urban Coast Institute on "The Future of Coastal Lakes in Monmouth County."

Tiedemann said the plant blooming wildly in Takanassee is more likely Eurasian water milfoil, which has invaded many of the region's lakes. It also is an invasive plant that can choke out other plant life, according to the USDA.

Eurasian water milfoil likely would thrive in Lake Takanassee's nutrient-rich, eutrophic surroundings, crowding out native plants and hastening the potential demise of the lake.

"If it gets totally taken over by this water milfoil, it will leave no place for the waterfowl to stay for the winter months and have a home," Bacinski worried.

The impact on waterfowl, however, is just a small part of the deleterious effects on the lake, from water quality to aesthetics, Tiedemann explained. Stormwater discharges, fertilizers and too much imperious surface all help the invasive plant thrive.

"Without management and treatment, the lakes get overgrown," he said.

The UCI report concluded government can implement either chemical or mechanical solutions for weed control, even if those are only stop-gap methods.

"The real solution is to control the nutrients that go into the lake," he said. "Rather than mowing the lawn along the lake, plant a vegetated buffer that functions as a biofilter."

Other responses include adopting an ordinance that controls the timing, limiting the amount and type of fertilizer property owners can use on their lawns, overseeing a Canada geese management program, adopting a zero-silt runoff program and installing stormwater system retrofits. [...]

Read the full story at link.


Invasive Plants Threaten Avalon Dune Health

By Leslie Truluck
Cape May County Herald.com

AVALON, NJ — The borough is seeking to remedy potential threats to the health of the dune system and natural maritime forests here caused by invasive plant species.

“The conditions in the dunes require attention,” Environmental Commission Chairman Dr. Brian Reynolds told council Dec. 9.

Invasive species, like Japanese black pine and bamboo, have caused concern for diminishing animal habitat and food sources, potential fire hazards, as well as spread of insects and disease.

Japanese Black Pine was once thought to be a good stabilizer for the dunes, due to its thick roots. However, they have the genetic potential to grow up to 80 feet and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service categorize it as “mildly invasive.”

The commission is updating the borough’s Dune Vegetation Management Plan in order to monitor and control of what is planted in the dune areas, to ensure they are suitable for that environment. Corrective changes to the ordinance will move the pines to the “not recommended” list. The pines attract insects that attack the trees and carry diseases.

Japanese black pines produce extremely flammable needles and cones that, in the event of a fire, could cause it to spread, resulting in damage to properties and the dunes natural maritime forest, Reynolds said.

He said the pines don’t serve as habitat and are not a source of food for wildlife.

A species of bamboo planted on a property near 40th Street has potential to grow 25 feet high and spread. Since most types of bamboo are invasive, the commission has opted to prohibit all bamboo types in the dunes.

The plan encourages a wider diversity of trees and shrubs in the dunes system through systematic replacement of the invasive species with indigenous plants. A test area at the 74th Street dunes, where Japanese black pines have already begun to die will be replaced, as recommended in the report.

The trees’ crowns will be removed, but roots will remain intact, to hold the dunes together. They need to be removed by hand, without heavy machinery, in order not to damage dunes. The half-block 74th Street pilot area is outside of piping plover nesting areas protected by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Funding for this endeavor may be available through a Smart Growth Planning Grant funded by the NJ Environmental Trust.
The commission will review a final draft of the Dune Vegetation Management Plan, prepared by Lomax Consulting Group of Court House, before it is presented to council.

Lomax investigated the entire borough dune system from Townsend Inlet to 80th Street to understand the pine’s height and density distribution. Trees are nearing 25-feet in the 74th Street pilot area.

Environmental Commission will discuss changes to the plan for the dune area during its regular meeting Dec. 15, at 4 p.m. at Borough Hall.

A copy of the plan will be available on the borough’s Web site, www.avalonboro.org.

Read the story at link.


Researchers reveal that zebra mussels can be controlled

While a lone zebra mussel is relatively harmless, its appearance usually indicates the arrival of thousands of the unwanted visitors. In waterways around the globe, the mussels are outcompeting native animal species for food and clogging industrial water systems.

Scientists and municipalities in affected areas struggle with how to eradicate the mussels quickly without causing wide-scale damage to the surrounding ecosystem by using harmful pesticides or other damaging chemicals to remove the mussels.

A recent zebra mussel eradication program led by scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Darrin Fresh Water Institute is now providing a promising example of how zebra mussel populations can be successfully controlled without damaging the natural ecosystem.

“Conventional wisdom on zebra mussels holds that once a population is established, they are impossible to control,” said Darrin Director Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer. “However, we have been able to show that it might be possible to remove enough mussels to reduce the population density to the point where successful reproduction can be impeded.”

The researchers looked at how a relatively low-tech approach, coupled with extensive community outreach and no small amount of volunteer elbow grease, successfully removed what is estimated to be more than 90 percent of a mussel infestation in Lake George within two months. To perform the removal at the freshwater lake, a popular tourist destination in upstate New York at the foot of the Adirondack Mountains, the researchers enlisted the assistance of volunteer SCUBA diving teams to hand remove more than 21,000 zebra mussels from the site.

The study took place from 1999, when the mussels were first discovered in Lake George by divers with underwater archaeology firm Bateaux Below, to 2007, although the removal effort continues today. The vast majority of mussels were removed during the first year of the project, from an area covering 3,900 square meters that is divided into nine dive sections. After hundreds of hours of dives, the researchers’ continued investigation and monitoring of the site for larvae suggests that the mussels have not successfully reproduced since the removal began a decade ago.

Because of the nature of the zebra mussels and their link to human activity, particularly their ability to hitch a ride on a contaminated hull or in the bilge water of a boat after a boating trip in an infested waterway, Darrin Fresh Water Institute’s surveillance of the lake has since resulted in the discovery of eight new colonies of zebra mussels. Each is being systematically removed through SCUBA dives in the same way that the initial site was cleaned.

“A critical component of this effort has been a broad-based surveillance program,” Nierzwicki-Bauer said. “This allows us to quickly mount the SCUBA-based approach while the population remains relatively small.” The Darrin Fresh Water Institute and other organizations on Lake George regularly monitor the waterway for new zebra mussel infestations.

“Perhaps ‘mission impossible’ can never be claimed in the fight against zebra mussels, but the prevention of colonization may well be possible with a long-term commitment to monitoring and rapid removal,” she said.

The research team’s findings, based on activities and study from 1999-2007, were published late this summer in the journal Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. Along with Nierzwicki-Bauer, researchers contributing to the study are John Wimbush of the New York State Department of State; Marc Frischer of Skidaway Institute of Oceanography; and Joseph Zarzynski of Bateaux Below.

Provided by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Invasive algae found in Garrett Co.'s Savage River

DNR biologists discover habitat-attacking didymo in another MD trout stream

By Candus Thomson
The Baltimore Sun

Another premier Maryland trout stream has become tainted by an invasive algae feared worldwide for its ability to coat the bottom of rivers and lakes and smother the habitat and food supply of fish.

Biologists at the Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday that didymo, known by anglers as "rock snot," was found in Garrett County's Savage River late last month.

"There's nothing we can do short of closing the area down, and that's draconian," said Don Cosden, inland fisheries director. "We're going to try hard to contain it."

Officials fear the algae could spread to the North Branch of the Potomac below the Jennings Randolph Reservoir, another of the state's best trout waters.[...]

At least three streams in West Virginia have been tainted as has the Delaware River in Pennsylvania.

Cosden said biologists doing routine water quality testing just below Savage River Dam were suspicious of initial results and went back to test again. This time, they found a small mass near a foot bridge and on some rocks.

Didymo was first identified in the 1890s in Europe and China. Scientists on the West Coast detected it a decade ago. An outbreak in New Zealand in 2004 prompted a "biosecurity lockdown," complete with checkpoints and penalties of five years in prison and $100,000 fines for anglers and boaters who failed to clean their gear. A year later, reports were down 90 percent, but officials warned the decrease could be part of a natural cycle.

The same thing could happen here, Cosden said. Didymo "doesn't compete well" in rivers where other algae is present, a condition that exists in the Gunpowder and the Savage rivers. But the North Branch, with its ice-cold water and clean bottom, is a perfect host for didymo, he said.

"We just need to pay attention and be careful," Cosden said. "I suspect we'll have to do more targeted sampling and we'll reach out to anglers when they start returning to the rivers later this winter."

Copyright © 2009, The Baltimore Sun

Read the full article at link.


Exotic Species Threaten Puerto Rico’s Ecosystem

Latin American Herald Tribune

SAN JUAN – Invading species of green iguana and red lionfish are threatening the ecosystem of Puerto Rico, according to the head of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, or DRNA, of the Caribbean island, Daniel Galan.

Galan said Tuesday in an interview with Efe that neither of the two species is native to Puerto Rico, and so their presence threatens not only the animals but also the plants here.

“The main problem they pose is that neither of the two species has a natural predator in Puerto Rico,” said Galan, after noting that the green – or common – iguana (Iguana iguana) was introduced to the island 20 years ago by people keeping them as pets. [...]

Read the full story at link.


Milfoil control requires coordinated effort

By Larissa Mulkern
Editor of The Carroll County Independent

TAMWORTH — State and local officials from three towns met last week to discuss launching a coordinated effort to combat and control variable milfoil in the Ossipee Lake system, before the choking weed affects tourism and property values on a lake that borders three communities.

Representatives from the Ossipee Lake Alliance, Green Mountain Conservation Group, select board and conservation members from Ossipee, Freedom and Effingham and a state representative from Moultonborough gathered the morning of Dec. 8 at Samantha's Inn in Tamworth. The meeting was arranged by Ossipee Conservation Commission Chair Elizabeth Gillette after the commission and alliance members met with Ossipee selectmen and NH Department of Environmental Services Limnologist Amy Smagula to discuss milfoil treatment options for Pickerel Cove and other areas of infestation.

Ossipee Lake Alliance Board Member Bob Reynolds, who recently attended the N.H. Legislative Exotic Aquatic Weeds and Species Committee's Milfoil Summit meetings in Concord, kicked off the meeting with an update. He said a proposed bill would not generate expected revenues to fund milfoil control until 2011. He added that the fact the bill was proposed indicates that the state understands towns and property owners can't win the milfoil battle alone.

The DES spent nearly its entire $450,000 milfoil budget on prevention alone, he said, leaving just $60,000 for milfoil control to be distributed to dozens of communities already affected by the weed. [...]

Read the full article at link.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Week of December 7, 2009

Vermont receives $497,000 to control invasive species, fund 'park interpreter' program


Governor Jim Douglas today announced that the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation was awarded nearly a half-million dollars of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds from the U.S. Forest Service to control invasive insects and plants and provide conservation education programs in state parks and recreation areas within the Green Mountain National Forest.

The 16-month project will allow state officials to control the spread of invasive plants and insects on state and National Forest Service lands, by conducting pest surveys, limiting firewood movement and enhancing native species recovery for ash, butternut and chestnut.

“Vermont’s forests are valuable economically, ecologically and socially,” said Commissioner Jason Gibbs. “A major thrust of maintaining forest health in Vermont is detecting, eliminating or managing newly introduced pests.”

The funds will also allow the Department to hire and train seasonal “park interpreters” – restoring the popular conservation education program in Vermont’s State Parks and expanding it to recreation areas within the Green Mountain National Forest.

Read the full story at link.


Invasive Species Awareness Week

Register by Dec. 10 for National Invasive Species Awareness Week to receive the pre-registration discount! Go to www.nisaw.org to register online and check out the updated agenda. Great speakers, timely topics!

National Invasive Species Awareness Week
Jan. 10-14, 2010
Four Points Sheraton, Washington, DC

For more information, contact Lee VanWychen at lee.vanwychen[at]wssa.net or Janet Clark at janet.k.clark[at]gmail.com.


Quarantine on invasive vine made permanent

By Aaron Applegate
Kathy Adams
The Virginian-Pilot
© December 7, 2009

[Virginia] State officials have made permanent the quarantine on beach vitex, an invasive vine that’s been discovered on dunes in Sandbridge and Norfolk’s Willoughby Spit.

The quarantine, which started in late October, prohibits the movement of any part of the plant into, within or from Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Accomack County and Northampton County. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services board voted to make the restrictions permanent Thursday, according to its Web site.

Beach vitex, nicknamed “coastal kudzu,” is one of a few plants that will grow on the beach, so some property owners have planted it for ornamental purposes.

But it has the potential to destroy dunes, choke out native plants and ravage habitats, including that of the endangered loggerhead sea turtle, according to the agriculture department. For those reasons, the plant is already banned in the Carolinas.

Virginia Beach officials have said residents should leave beach vitex alone if they have it on their property. Digging it up will spread it, said Cal Schiemann, the agricultural extension agent for Virginia Beach. It’s best to wait until spring before scraping off the plant’s bark and applying a herbicide with a brush, he said.

Read the article at link.


Marsh Dilemma: Restore Or Preserve?

by Melinda Tuhus
New Haven Independent

An environmental group wants to allow salt water to flow again into the West River’s marshes, by replacing almost century-old tide gates. Neighbor Paula Panzarella, for one, worries that mosquitoes will return, too — and wild turkeys and elderberries might disappear.

Rich Orson, a PhD ecologist and habitat restoration consultant with Save the Sound, pitched the idea to three dozen neighbors last week at the Barnard School Nature Center at the corner of Derby Avenue and Ella Grasso Boulevard and abutting the river.

Orson said his project has three goals: improving water quality by allowing for the exchange of salt and fresh water, enhancing recreational opportunities, and allowing more fish to swim from Long Island Sound up the river. The existing tide gates, installed in 1920, have kept virtually all salt water out, destroying 130 acres of salt marsh in the process.

Save the Sound, a program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, received federal stimulus money from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; $800,000 is earmarked for replacing the West River tide gates. [...]

...one aim of the project is to push the phragmites back and allow other flora to gain a foothold. [...]

Read the full story at link.


Temporary federal job opportunity in Alaska

The National Park Service - Alaska Exotic Plant Management Team is looking for candidates interested in helping protect America's last frontier from the ever increasing presence of damaging invasive plants. Alaska's National Parks are home to some of the most beautiful and pristine terrain in the nation, rich in wildlife and culture. Experience your America and build a fulfilling career by joining the National Park Service. Become part of our mission to unite our past, our cultures and our special places to establish important connections to the present and build a rich and lasting legacy for future generations. This full-time temporary position, thru September 30, 2010, and is based out of the Alaska Regional Office in Anchorage, AK. This position may be filled at the GS-6 or GS-7 grade level with an hourly pay scale of approximately $16.25 to $18.10, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Extensive travel during the summer field months to Park Service units throughout Alaska will be required as well as camping.

If you are interested in this position please review the attached qualifications and position summary documents. If you meet the qualifications required please submit by January 8, 2010 to the address listed below a descriptive resume and your responses to the attached Knowledge, Skills and Abilities. Applications will be reviewed and interviews potentially scheduled for the middle of January. This position is slated to begin no later than March 1, 2010.


Bonnie M. Million
Alaska EPMT Liaison
Alaska Regional Office
240 West 5th Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501
Office: 907-644-3452


Air Potato Exchange Day

When: January 9, 2010 10:00 a.m.—2:00 p.m.

Where: Bert J. Harris, Jr. Agricultural Center, Sebring, Florida

The Highlands Soil and Water Conservation District will host the “Air Potato Exchange Day”. All you have to do is bring in some air potato bulbils ( at least one grocery bag full) to the Agricultural Center in Sebring, and receive a free native plant.

Also, prizes will be awarded for:

• The biggest air potato

• The most air potatoes (pounds)

• The smallest air potato

• The most uniquely shaped air potato


Hough-Goldstein honored by Delaware Invasive Species Council

University of Delaware

9:31 a.m., Dec. 9, 2009----At the annual meeting of the Delaware Invasive Species Council on Nov. 23, Judy Hough-Goldstein, professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, was presented with the organization's first ever research award.

Hough-Goldstein was honored for her “significant contributions toward the advancement of invasive species research with the biological control of mile-a-minute weed.”

Hough-Goldstein's nomination letter stated, “Through her years of research, Judy's lab was the first to test and obtain a permit to release a biological control agent of mile-a-minute weed. The agent, a stem-boring weevil, has been released in five states, and is being mass-reared at a laboratory in New Jersey. Since 2005, Judy and her lab have monitored the weevil's dispersal, population growth, and impact on mile-a-minute at release sites. Additional projects in her lab include bio-control agents for kudzu, and methods to enhance currently available agents for purple loosestrife.”

Hough-Goldstein has been a member of DISC since 2004 and became vice chair in 2005. She moved to chair in 2007.

Read the full story at link.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Week of November 30, 2009

Group: don't wait on ballast rule

SAVE THE RIVER PLEA: Proposal would protect St. Lawrence, may take too long to implement


An environmental group is concerned that a new rule proposed by the U.S. Coast Guard requiring ships to clean up ballast tanks to prevent any new invasive species from entering the St. Lawrence River may take too long to implement.

The Coast Guard has a proposal that would require ships transiting any waters of the United States, including the St. Lawrence Seaway, to clean up their ballast tanks.

According to the legislation, the proposal would establish new procedures for approving onboard equipment to clean ballast water before discharge. For the first time, the regulation sets upper limits for the number of organisms per unit of ballast water. The current rules require vessels only to make mid-ocean ballast exchanges, a control technique that frequently has been attacked as inadequate to prevent the introduction of alien species into U.S. waters.

The effort, according to Jennifer J. Caddick, executive director of Save the River, would help prevent a problem facing the river's fish and wildlife: aquatic invasive species.

Over the years, the river has seen a number of invasive species change its environment and affect fish species, such as zebra mussels and round gobies. Zebra mussels have cleared up the river's water, and gobies threaten native fish species.

"These invaders threaten the river ecosystem, our regional economy and our way of life. This rule could be a groundbreaking regulation and could be the strongest effort yet in the fight to stop aquatic invasive species introductions," Ms. Caddick said.

However, she said, she believes the proposed rule allows polluters too much time to fix the problem, up to 10 years.

"We need to tell the Coast Guard in no uncertain terms that it needs to stop introductions of aquatic invasive species into the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes now," she said. Ms. Caddick said it's important for people to make their opinions heard.

"We know that the shipping industry is lining up in opposition to this new rule. It's important for the Coast Guard to hear directly from citizens, who are bearing the burden of invasive species damages, about the rules as well. The new regulation, if implemented with stronger deadlines, could be the most significant effort yet in the fight to stop aquatic invasive species introductions," Ms. Caddick said.

Save the River, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve and protect the ecological integrity of the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence River, is asking concerned groups and individuals to submit comments to it by Friday at www.savetheriver.org.

Read the story at link.