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What's New

Firefighting Cattle: Targeted Grazing Makes Firebreaks in Cheatgrass (Oct 1, 2020)
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.

Post Date: Oct 06, 2020
DOI Invasive Species Strategic Plan (Draft) (Jul 2020)
United States Department of the Interior.

Pursuant to the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act (Act), the Department of the Interior (Interior) is developing an 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.

60-day Public Comment Period -- Written comments must be submitted online (via Regulations.gov) or by mail by 11:59 p.m. Eastern, October 9, 2020.

For more information, see the Federal Register notice -- Draft Invasive Species Strategic Plan; Tribal and Alaska Native Corporation Consultations, Public Listening Sessions and Request for Public Comments (8/13/20)

Post Date: Sep 29, 2020
Massachusetts State Agricultural Officials Urge Residents to Report Signs of Invasive Spotted Lanternfly (Sep 25, 2020)
Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) today announced that it has identified two dead specimens of the spotted lanternfly (SLF) in Massachusetts communities, and is urging residents to report any sign of the invasive pest. The specimens were recovered in the towns of Milford and Norwood, and were brought into Massachusetts on materials shipped from Pennsylvania counties currently under a spotted lanternfly quarantine. Additionally, MDAR was recently notified that nursery stock with spotted lanternfly egg masses and adults may have been unintentionally imported and planted in several parts of Massachusetts.

MDAR is urging anyone who has received goods or materials, such as plants, landscaping materials, or outdoor furniture, from a state with a known SLF infestation to carefully check the materials, including any packaging, for signs of spotted lanternfly. Currently, there are known introductions of SLF in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. If any indication of SLF is found, residents should take a photo or collect the specimen, and report any potential sightings of the pest using MDAR’s online reporting form. Residents should look for large, gray insects, about one inch long, with black spots and red underwings, or inch-long, rectangular yellowish-brown egg masses covered with a gray waxy coating.

Post Date: Sep 26, 2020
USDA Announces Second Round of Funding for Feral Swine Program (Sep 21, 2020)
USDA. Natural Resources Conservation Service.

USDA is accepting applications from non-federal, not-for-profit partners for projects to help agricultural producers and private landowners trap and control feral swine, which is part of the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program (FSCP). USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is making $12 million available and will accept applications through November 5, 2020, in eight priority states during its second round of project funding. FSCP is a joint effort between NRCS and USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The second round of funding is for partners to carry out activities as part of the identified pilot projects in select areas of Alabama, Hawaii, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas.

Additional information on specific pilot projects, including target areas and the roles for which partner assistance is being requested, can be found on the FSCP webpage. Applications must be submitted through Grants.gov by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Nov. 5, 2020.

Post Date: Sep 24, 2020
Hemlock Woolly Adelgids & Their Predator Beetle, Laricobius nigrinus (Sep 22, 2020)
USDA. FS. Southern Research Station. CompassLive.

Laricobius nigrinus is a small beetle that eats an even smaller bug – the hemlock woolly adelgid, or HWA. Since 2003, Laricobius has been used to help control HWA. But the beetle, which is native to western North America, is only active during the fall, winter and early spring. Recently, USDA Forest Service research entomologist Bud Mayfield and his colleagues, including students and prominent researchers, published the results of a six-year collaboration on Laricobius as biocontrol.

Silvicultural recommendations for managing HWA are still in development. But when they are available, Mayfield and his colleagues plan to update their resource manager’s guide. They wrote the guide for managers who want to use an integrated pest management strategy to control hemlock woolly adelgids.

Post Date: Sep 22, 2020
Rhode Island DEM Asks Public to be Aware of Beech Leaf Disease (Jul 13, 2020)
Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is asking Rhode Islanders to monitor their beech trees for signs of leaf damage from Beach Leaf Disease (BLD). Early symptoms of BLD include dark striping on the tree's leaves parallel to the leaf veins and are best seen by looking upward into the backlit canopy. Drastic leaf loss occurs for heavily symptomatic leaves during the growing season and may appear as early as June, while asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic leaves show no or minimal leaf loss. BLD was detected in the Ashaway area of Hopkinton, Rhode Island, in 2020 and in coastal Massachusetts. Before these findings, the disease was only known to be in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut.

Because of the seemingly random nature of disease in Rhode Island, DEM encourages homeowners and forest landowners to monitor their beech trees and report any suspected cases of BLD on DEM's Invasive Species Sighting Report webpage. Although BLD is relatively new in the U.S. and information is limited, links to additional information about the disease and photos are posted on the Division of Forest Environment's Current Threats page. If people have further questions, they should contact a licensed arborist or email Nancy Stairs, forestry program supervisor in DEM's Division of Forest Environment, via Nancy.Stairs@dem.ri.gov.

Post Date: Sep 16, 2020
Changes Proposed to Texas Exotic Aquatic Species Regulations (Aug 28, 2020)
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is proposing changes to regulations regarding harmful or potentially harmful fish, shellfish and aquatic plants. The proposed changes significantly reorganize the existing rules to enhance accessibility, meet the changing needs of the regulated community, and address current and potential future threats posed by these exotic species. The proposed rules will be published in the Texas Register no later than Friday, Oct. 2. At that time, comments on the changes can be provided on the TPWD public comment page until Monday, Nov. 9. The TPW Commission will take public comment on the proposed changes at their meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 10 in Austin. Comments on the proposed changes also can be submitted to Ken Kurzawski at (512) 389-4591, email: ken.kurzawski@tpwd.texas.gov.

Post Date: Sep 12, 2020
ARS Scientists Seek Answers from Spotted Lanternfly Dispersal (Sep 11, 2020)
USDA. Agricultural Research Service.

The Spotted Lanternfly is an invasive species that destroy fruit crops, trees and plants by hopping from plant to plant, crop to crop, and tree to tree. Although native to regions in China, India, and Vietnam, it was first detected in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014. Since then, Pennsylvania vineyards have seen considerable damage in high infestation areas and the Mid-Atlantic states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia and West Virginia have also suffered from its presence. Insecticides are effective at killing the insect on grapevines, but they are expensive and of limited use because of constant re-infestation from the Spotted Lanternfly dispersing from wild hosts to surrounding vineyards. So, U.S. Department of Agriculture Scientists Dr. Tracy Leskey and Dr. Laura Nixon of the Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, West Virginia, initiated research on the invasive pest to see if they could develop sustainable pest management strategies and use the insect's dispersal patterns for other prolific specialty crop pests.

Post Date: Sep 12, 2020
NYS DEC Encourages Delaware River Anglers to Report Invasive Snakehead Sightings (Aug 26, 2020)
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today encouraged anglers in the Delaware River to be on the lookout for northern snakehead, an invasive fish native to Southeast Asia. A northern snakehead was recently caught in the Callicoon area of the Delaware River. Given the right environmental conditions, this invasive species can prey on and compete with other fish, upsetting the natural balance of local ecosystems. "Northern snakeheads are listed federally as injurious wildlife, and New York State law prohibits their live possession," Commissioner Seggos said. "Any snakehead caught should be killed immediately and not released back into the water." In the event an angler catches a northern snakehead, DEC advises anglers to report the catch to the regional NYS DEC fisheries office, DEC's Invasive Species Bureau at isinfo@dec.ny.gov or (518) 402-9425, or submit a report through iMapinvasives.

Post Date: Aug 26, 2020
USDA and Wyoming Sign Shared Stewardship Agreement to Improve Forests and Grasslands (Aug 25, 2020)
United States Department of Agriculture.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue joined Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon in a virtual ceremony to sign a Shared Stewardship Agreement between USDA’s Forest Service and the State of Wyoming (PDF | 2.06 MB). The Shared Stewardship Agreement establishes a framework for federal and state agencies to promote active forest management, improve collaboration, and respond to ecological challenges and natural resource concerns in Wyoming. Under the agreement, the State of Wyoming and USDA will work together on forest and grassland restoration across all land ownerships, with a focus on protecting at-risk communities and watersheds from wildfire. The USDA Forest Service initiative for cross-boundary land management is described in the 2018 document Toward Shared Stewardship Across Landscapes: An Outcome-Based Investment Strategy (PDF | 14 MB). This strategy addresses the increasing challenges faced by federal, state, and private managers of forests and rangeland, including catastrophic wildfires, invasive species, degraded watersheds, and insects and disease.

Post Date: Aug 26, 2020