The United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has analyzed the potential environmental effects of establishing an integrated management strategy to control cogongrass in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina. The draft environmental assessment is now available for comment. Cogongrass is an invasive exotic grass found on public and private property, along roadways, in forests, and on farmland. This federally regulated noxious weed grows rapidly, reducing forest productivity, harming wildlife habitat and ecosystems, and encroaching on pastures and hayfields. Because of cogongrass' impact on agriculture and forest industries, Congress has given APHIS funding to partner with Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina to control the spread of this weed. APHIS is proposing is an integrated management strategy that uses preventive, cultural, mechanical, biological, and chemical methods to control cogongrass in key areas of its distribution. APHIS invites the public to review and comment on this environmental assessment by April 1, 2020.
Invasive Species Resources
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USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Clemson University’s Department of Plant Industry (DPI) announced their plans for combatting the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) in Charleston County, South Carolina. In June, APHIS and DPI confirmed the beetle is infesting trees in the county. The eradication strategy in South Carolina will be like those used for other ALB infestations in the United States. It includes establishing a quarantine, removing infested trees, and potentially using, with the landowner’s permission, a combination of tree removal and chemical treatment for trees that are within a half-mile radius of an infested tree.
If you live in the regulated area (PDF | 576 KB), please help by allowing officials access to your property to inspect and remove trees. If you live in Charleston County or nearby counties, please look for ALB and examine your trees for any damage that may be caused by the beetle, such as dime-sized exit holes in tree trunks and branches. Please take pictures and, if possible, capture suspicious insects in a durable container and freeze them, which helps to preserve the insect for identification. ALB is not harmful to people or pets. Report the insect or tree damage by calling the ALB hotline at 1-866-702-9938 or online at www.AsianLonghornedBeetle.com.
DOI. Bureau of Land Management.
The Bureau of Land Management has released the final programmatic environmental impact statement for fuels reduction and rangeland restoration in the Great Basin. This programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) is intended to further efforts to conserve and restore sagebrush communities within a 223 million-acre area that includes portions of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Utah.
Sagebrush communities in the Great Basin are a vital part of Western working landscapes and are home to over 350 species of plants and wildlife. Intact sagebrush communities are disappearing within the Great Basin due to increased large and severe wildfires, the spread of invasive annual grasses, and the encroachment of pinyon-juniper. The Great Basin region is losing sagebrush communities faster than they can reestablish naturally. Fuels reduction and rangeland restoration treatments can reduce fire severity, increase sagebrush communities' resistance to invasive annual grasses and improve their ability to recover after wildfires.
Western Governors' Association.
Officials at the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced in June 2017 that DOI would coordinate with the Western Governors' Association, states, tribes, federal agencies, and other partners in a project to help strengthen existing efforts to address invasive mussels. The actions described in the 2017 report, Safeguarding the West from Invasive Species, Actions to Strengthen Federal, State, and Tribal Coordination to Address Invasive Mussels (PDF | 1.3 MB), vary from policy and program reviews to on-the-ground efforts to prevent, contain, and control invasive mussels. One recommendation in Safeguarding the West was the development of a reference manual to facilitate rapid response activities in the event of mussel introductions in the Columbia River Basin. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently finalized and released this manual, Dreissenid Mussel Rapid Response in the Columbia River Basin: Recommended Practices to Facilitate Endangered Species Act Section 7 Compliance (PDF | 3.63 MB).
United States Department of Agriculture.
Cattle grazing on a nearly half mile wide targeted strip of cheatgrass near Beowawe, Nevada, created a firebreak that helped limit a rangeland fire to just 54 acres this past August compared to rangeland fires that more commonly race across thousands of acres of the Great Basin. This "targeted grazing" firebreak and eight others are part of an evaluation project being managed by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), partnering with other federal, state and local agencies and local cattle ranchers in Idaho, Nevada and Oregon. These demonstration sites are being studied so the concept's efficacy and environmental impacts can be uniformly evaluated and compared.
Cheatgrass, also known as downy brome, is an invasive annual that dominates more than 100 million acres of the Great Basin in the western U.S. Germinating each winter, cheatgrass grows furiously in spring and dies in early summer, leaving the range carpeted in golden dry tinder. The Great Basin now has the nation's highest wildfire risk, and rangeland fires are outpacing forest fires when it comes to acreage destroyed.
New York State. Governor Andew Cuomo.
Funding Supports Invasive Species Rapid Response and Control, Research, Lake Management Planning, and Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention Programs. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced more than $2.8 million in grants have been awarded to 42 projects that will reduce the negative impacts of invasive species through control or removal activities, research, and spread prevention. These grants are part of the State Department of Environmental Conservation's Invasive Species Grant Program and are funded by the State's Environmental Protection Fund.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.
Montana watercraft inspection stations have intercepted 13 boats carrying invasive mollusks into the state this year. As of May 30, inspectors have caught 12 boats with invasive zebra or quagga mussels and one boat with red rim melania snails attached to watercraft.
University of Texas at Austin.
The cactus moth has a wingspan of only about an inch, but this invasive insect has the potential to cause largescale agricultural and ecological devastation in Texas, according to the first study of cactus moths in Texas. Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin's Invasive Species Project based at Brackenridge Field Laboratory in Austin have found that four native species of prickly pear cactus — and the species that rely on them — face a serious health threat from the moth.
Great Lakes Commission; Invasive Mussel Collaborative.
The Invasive Mussel Collaborative announced today that it has released a new strategy to reduce invasive mussels and their negative impacts. The Strategy to Advance Management of Invasive Zebra and Quagga Mussels is intended to drive investments, policy, and research around invasive mussels across the Great Lakes region and beyond. Since their initial discovery in 1989, zebra and quagga mussels have had dramatic impacts on the Great Lakes ecosystem and economy, including changes to the food web, degrading fish habitat, interfering with drinking water systems and damaging tourism and recreation economies. Today, these mussels continue to spread to new water bodies across the U.S. and Canada.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
The governors of Illinois and Michigan today agreed to work jointly to protect the Great Lakes from invasive Asian carp species. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Gov. JB Pritzker today announced an intergovernmental agreement between the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) which allows Illinois to use up to $8 million in funds appropriated in 2018 by the Michigan Legislature to support the pre-construction engineering and design (PED) phase of the Brandon Road Ecosystem Project. Further strengthening the path forward, the State of Illinois also signed a separate PED agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the initial Brandon Road design. The state will serve as the non-federal sponsor, agreeing to help fund design of a portion of the project and to further advance full project design efforts to approximately 30 percent completion.
The Brandon Road Lock and Dam in the Chicago Area Waterway System near Joliet, Illinois, is a critical pinch point for keeping bighead, silver and black carp – the invasive Asian carp species of greatest concern – out of the Great Lakes. The Brandon Road project would install layered technologies including an electric barrier, underwater sound, an air bubble curtain and a flushing lock in a newly engineered channel designed to prevent invasive carp movement while allowing barge passage.
Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Montana Invasive Species Council.
The Montana and Washington invasive species councils have joined forces to stop wild pigs from crossing borders. The two councils issued a report with recommendations and best management practices aimed at helping federal, state, provincial and local landowners manage wild pigs in the western United States and Canada. "Wild pig populations are expanding in the western provinces of Canada and in the United States." said Stephanie Criswell, coordinator of the Montana Invasive Species Council. "We are at a unique point in time where we can work together to prevent Canadian wild pigs from spreading across borders into unaffected states like Montana."
In early 2020, the two invasive species councils convened a working group of more than 40 federal, state and Canadian feral swine experts to discuss challenges and opportunities to prevent feral swine along interstate and international borders. Finalized this month, the report includes 22 recommendations that address five strategic areas of feral swine management. Recommendations include standardizing communications to the public, expanding monitoring networks by partnering with non-traditional organizations such as hunting groups, and formalizing notification protocols for reports that will be shared between state and provincial authorities along the international border. The complete report can be found at misc.mt.gov.
Cornell University. College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
For the last seven decades, Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) has been leading the fight against nematodes—invasive, microscopic worms that can destroy seasons' worth of crops. However, researchers had been working in a facility that lacked the infrastructure to keep pace with their innovative work. On August 1, 2019, thanks to a $1.2 million grant from New York State and another $400,000 in federal funding, CALS cut the ribbon on the new Golden Nematode Quarantine Facility, located on the Cornell campus in Ithaca, NY. The facility is the only research program in North America with expertise in biology, resistance breeding and management of potato-cyst nematodes. At the lab, Cornell scientists work in tandem with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture Research Service (ARS).
Great Lakes Commission.
Aquatic invasive species inflict millions of dollars of ecological and economic damage to the Great Lakes, with impacts on coastal industries, water quality, native fish and wildlife and human health. Recently, Blue Accounting, in partnership with state and federal agencies, launched a new suite of web-based resources and tools to support early detection of aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes. The earlier new aquatic invasive species are detected, the easier and less expensive it is to avoid potentially devastating consequences of a large invasion. The new tools released by the Blue Accounting initiative help target efforts to focus on high-risk species and locations across the 11,000 miles of shoreline and 94,000 miles of surface area that make up the Great Lakes basin.
New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.
The New York State Departments of Agriculture and Markets (AGM) and Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (Parks) today announced an innovative effort to combat the spread of Spotted Lanternfly (SLF) in New York State. A new online interface will allow volunteer members of the public to assist in surveying for SLF and tracking associated data. The program encourages broader surveying for SLF and increased public awareness of this invasive pest, following confirmed finds of SLF in New York State this past fall.
The new initiative, which launched this week, invites volunteers to sign up to survey a specific area, or grid, of land on iMapInvasives. This online, GIS-based data management system is used to assist citizen scientists and natural resource professionals to protect against the threat of invasive species. Volunteers will also enter data from their survey work into iMapInvasives. More information about the program, including upcoming webinars, can be found at https://www.nyimapinvasives.org/slf.
DOC. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
New research by NOAA and partners finds that two species of invasive Asian carp -- the bighead carp and silver carp, collectively known as bigheaded carps -- could be capable of establishing populations in Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron and affecting the health of ecologically and economically important fish species such as yellow perch. The research, appearing online in the journal Biological Invasions, is based on a new model that simulates interactions between the bigheaded carps and a range of fish species, including walleye, yellow perch, and groups lower on the food web over a time period of 50 years. Over 180 non-indigenous aquatic species have already become established in the Great Lakes, with a handful of these producing substantial negative impacts. While bigheaded carps are established in watersheds near the Great Lakes, they have not yet become established in the Great Lakes.
DOD. USACE. Omaha District.
A draft integrated letter report and programmatic environmental assessment has been developed to determine the economic and environmental impacts of federal participation in state-managed watercraft inspection programs along the Upper Missouri River Basin in Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska. Public comments on the draft EA will be accepted until March 2, 2021.
The existing watercraft inspection programs are managed collaboratively by the states of Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska, where watercraft transported along highways are inspected for the presence of aquatic invasive species and decontaminated when detected. If approved, federal participation in the program would be cost-shared (50 percent) with each of the states, and would employ a regional strategy to identify locations that would provide the greatest likelihood of preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species to reservoirs operated and maintained by the Corps in the Upper Missouri River Basin.
Texas A&M University. AgriLife Extension Service.
USDA NIFA research investment in Texas A&M AgriLife leads to breakthrough in fighting agricultural plant diseases. Researchers have made a discovery that will help combat fastidious pathogens, which cost U.S. agriculture alone billions of dollars annually.
United States Department of the Interior.
The Administration announced a new interagency conservation agreement to protect western water supplies, power generation, outdoor recreation and aquatic ecosystems by strengthening efforts to combat invasive mussels.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, and six Department of the Interior bureaus focuses on boosting federal coordination, communication and collaboration to enhance the capacity of federal, state and tribal agencies to rapidly respond to discoveries of invasive mussels in western states.
DOD. USACE. Buffalo District.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District is on a mission to fight hydrilla, an aggressive plant species that has wreaked havoc from Asia to every continent except Antarctica. "Hydrilla completely chokes out our waterways and impacts all the things we enjoy,” said Michael Greer, USACE Buffalo District project manager." It affects water quality, the economy, businesses, hydropower and flood reduction - ultimately our health and our wallets." Buffalo District’s main projects to eradicate hydrilla are at the Erie Canal and Tonawanda Creek, Tonawanda, NY, as well as on Cayuga Lake near Aurora, NY and Ithaca, NY. The District provides assistance on Pymatuning Lake which borders Pennsylvania and Ohio, and at Raystown Lake in south central Pennsylvania. Buffalo District is also lending expertise to a project on the Connecticut River. Funding for the project is available through the Corps of Engineers Aquatic Plant Control Research Program and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is announcing its plans for combatting the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) in New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio in 2020. "Just last year we declared eradication of ALB from Brooklyn and Queens in New York City, ending the city's 23-year-long battle with the beetle," said Osama El-Lissy, APHIS' Plant Protection and Quarantine Deputy Administrator. "This year, we've mapped out a sound strategy that will further our efforts to eliminate this pest from the remaining areas of this country where it still has a foothold."
Every year, APHIS evaluates and determines the most effective options to achieve ALB eradication. In 2020, the ALB program will focus on inspecting trees in quarantined areas in New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio, and removing infested trees at no cost to property owners. The program will not apply insecticide treatments this year. In addition, program officials will monitor for the beetle’s presence inside and around each area, respond to service calls, conduct training sessions for compliance agreement holders, and perform outreach.