Anglers and hunters and other boaters who use the state's waterways are being reminded by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's Fisheries Division of a new regulation that took effect Jan. 1, 2021, requiring all boat drain plugs to be removed before and during trailering of vessels to and from access facilities on lakes, rivers and streams. A similar boat plug regulation was already in place in 21 other states to help stop the spread of aquatic nuisance species, and the new AGFC rule was part of an extensive list of regulations recommended by the Fisheries Division and approved by the Commission in 2020, to take effect beginning Jan. 1. Aquatic nuisance species such as silver carp, giant salvinia, zebra mussels and others continue to spread across waterbodies in Arkansas, and the AGFC has as its mission a responsibility to put mechanisms in place to slow the spread.
Pursuant to the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (Act), the Department of the Interior (Interior) has released the final Interior-wide invasive species strategic plan. The Act became law on March 12, 2019. Title VII Section 7001 of the Act directs relevant Secretaries to take actions concerning invasive species. This includes the development of a strategic plan (Plan) in coordination with affected eligible States, political subdivisions of eligible States, in consultation with federally recognized Indian tribes, and in accordance with the priorities of Governors of eligible States.
The Plan sets out a vision for effectively managing invasive species through collaborative conservation to protect our nation’s environment and natural and cultural resources; economy and infrastructure; and public health. It both reflects ongoing work by Interior and its partners and leverages opportunities to respond to emerging issues. This Plan will guide Interior’s work on invasive species in the next five years.
The Michigan departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture and Rural Development today announced the addition of beech leaf disease to the state's invasive species watch list. Invasive species on the watch list have been identified as posing an immediate or potential threat to Michigan's economy, environment or human health. These species either have never been confirmed in the wild in Michigan or have a limited known distribution. Beech leaf disease is associated with the microscopic worm Litylenchus crenatae, a nematode that enters and spends the winter in leaf buds, causing damage to leaf tissue on American beech and European and Asian beech species. Infestations result in darkened, thick tissue bands between leaf veins, creating a striped effect on the leaves, leaf distortion and bud mortality. Trees weakened by leaf damage become susceptible to other diseases and can die within six years. Beech leaf disease has not been found in Michigan. The disease was first discovered in Ohio in 2012. Since then, it has been identified in seven eastern states and Ontario.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is accepting comment on an environmental assessment (EA) that addresses the environmental impacts of releasing the insects Bikasha collaris and Gadirtha fusca to biologically control the invasive Chinese tallow tree (Triadica sebifera) in the contiguous U.S.
APHIS is making the EA available to the public for review and comment for thirty days starting on Jan 21, 2021. We will consider all comments that we receive on or before Feb 22, 2021 at: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=APHIS-2020-0035.
The Montana Department of Agriculture (MDA) has issued an emergency quarantine order to protect against the introduction and spread of the emerald ash borer (EAB), a destructive wood-boring beetle that has already killed millions of ash trees in North America. The order was motivated by the removal of federal domestic quarantine regulations by the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS). "It is important that we remain vigilant and do everything in our power to make sure that the emerald ash borer doesn’t find a way into Montana," said MDA Director Mike Foster. "This quarantine order protects the green ash woodland resources in eastern Montana that provide habitat for many wildlife species as well as economic benefits to livestock producers and rural communities."
Montana’s emergency quarantine order restricts EAB from entering the state in any form, as well as the movement of live ash trees, parts of ash trees capable of harboring live EAB, and any other articles determined potentially hazardous. MDA will accept public comment regarding the quarantine order until February 26, 2021.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is excited to announce the 7th annual Lionfish Removal and Awareness Festival May 15 and 16 at AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar and HarborWalk Village in Destin. Come out and celebrate the fight against invasive lionfish with the FWC and Destin–Fort Walton Beach. Activities will include fillet demonstrations; family-friendly games and activities; art, diving and conservation booths; and the world’s largest lionfish spearfishing tournament, the Emerald Coast Open. Learn more by visiting FWCReefRangers.com. The 2021 Lionfish Challenge removal incentive program will begin May 21 and continue through Labor Day, Sept. 6. More details on how to get rewarded for your harvest coming soon to FWCReefRangers.com.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is accepting comment on an Environmental Assessment (EA) that addresses the environmental impacts of releasing Asian leaf beetle (Lilioceris egena) to manage air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera). After careful analysis APHIS has determined that the release of Asian leaf beetle within the continental United States will likely not have a significant impact on the environment. Air potato is a twining vine that can reach lengths of more than 65 feet and is capable of climbing and out-competing native vegetation.
APHIS will review and consider all public input submitted during the 30-day comment period and use the information to complete a final environmental assessment. Members of the public can review and comment on the assessment Jan 8, 2021 by accessing it and supporting documents here: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=APHIS-2019-0068. This action will go into effect on Feb. 8, 2021, 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $11.65 million in 14 projects to help agricultural producers and private landowners trap and control feral swine as part of the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program. This investment expands the pilot program to new projects in Alabama, Hawaii, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas. This pilot program is a joint effort between USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
This second round of funding is for partners to carry out activities as part of the identified pilot projects in select states. "These awards enable landowners to address the threat that feral swine pose to natural resources and agriculture," NRCS Acting Chief Kevin Norton said. "The projects we have identified will be key to addressing the feral swine problem."
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.
ARS scientists at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in Orient Point, NY, have made two important advancements against African swine fever virus, which causes a lethal disease in pigs.