Archive for the 'invasive species' Category

Arizona Enlists a Beetle in Its Campaign for Water

Photo retrieved from:

“For miles along the banks of the Colorado River, hundreds of once hardy tamarisk trees — also known as salt cedars — are gray and withered. Their parched branches look like victims of fire or drought.

But this is not the story of beloved trees being ravaged by an invasive pest — quite the opposite. Farmers, ranchers and the water authorities here are eager to get rid of the tamarisk trees, which are not native to Arizona and which they say suck too much water.

They have welcomed the beetles, which have made their way from Colorado and Utah over the last decade, and have watched with delight as the centimeter-long workhorses have damaged the trees by eating their spindly leaves. The hope is that the beetles will now rid Arizona of the trees.

“We view the tamarisk as a pest,” said Joseph Sigg, the government relations director at the Arizona Farm Bureau. “Water is an expensive input, and to the extent that we can lower it, the beetle can help.”

But scientists say that nature is rarely a zero-sum game, and that removing the deep-rooted tamarisks — which the authorities have tried with bulldozers, chain saws and now beetles — will not produce more water. New tamarisks or other trees will replace the fallen ones, the scientists say, and the birds that live in the tamarisks, like the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher, will be harmed. Plus, once the beetles are done eating tamarisk leaves, they are likely to feed on other trees.”

Read more: The New York Times

Michigan DNR to remove illegal carp from lake

Photo retrieved from:

“The Michigan Department of Natural Resources plans to use electrofishing and nets to remove illegal carp from a southern Michigan lake and study other nearby lakes for the presence of the fish, officials announced Monday,

The removal effort is planned this week at Marrs Lake in Lenawee County, where officials previously said they found a grass carp. The DNR plans to sample Washington, Wolf and Allen lakes, which are connected, for grass carp DNA to see whether the fish spread.

Grass carp are considered a species of Asian carp although they don’t pose the same risk to the ecosystem. According to the DNR, they eat important plants and can disrupt fish habitat.

The grass carp was found during a June survey after a fisherman submitted a photo of one at the lake about 20 miles southeast of Jackson.

During the survey, the DNR said, three other grass carp were spotted.

Tissue samples from the grass carp found during the survey were submitted to labs at theU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Southern Illinois University to determine whether the fish was capable of reproducing, and test results found that was the case, the DNR said.”

Read more: SF Gate


Algae blooms cause problems in state waters

Photo retrieved from:

“Wisconsin is not fully enforcing strict phosphorus limits adopted two years ago to reduce lake-algae blooms that make people sick, a Gannett Wisconsin Media review has found.

That’s despite the state Department of Natural Resources secretary’s alarm at foul conditions in at least one Wisconsin lake last summer.

The state Legislature in 2010 approved DNR regulations intended to cut down on the amount of phosphorus running into waterways, where it causes algae to grow so thick that the water turns to green soup. The regulations are aimed at wastewater treatment plants, paper mills and factories — which are required to reapply for permits at five-year intervals.

But as of last week, only 19 permits with stricter limits have been issued since September 2010. The DNR still is evaluating applications from 201 municipal facilities and 155 industrial facilities, while hundreds more must apply for permits in the coming years.”

Read more: Green Bay Press Gazette


Keeping the Great Lakes great

Photo retrieved from:

“Biologists worried that the voracious creatures — brought to the U.S. as a means to enhance fish farming along the lower Mississippi River in the early 1970s — could escape from their ponds if floods breached the barriers holding them in place.

Sure enough, years later, the carp escaped and found the Mississippi River a paradise of ample food, ideal conditions for reproducing and few natural predators. At 100 pounds, they were big eaters and prolific breeders and they expanded their territory by moving north.

Now, Asian carp have moved up the Illinois River and are knocking at the door of Lake Michigan.

What is at risk? The Great Lakes contain a huge portion of the world’s fresh surface water — 20 percent. Thirty million Americans depend on the Great Lakes for their drinking water. The $7 billion fishing industry depends on a healthy ecosystem. And of course, there is the priceless enjoyment millions of us experience when we swim, boat, or simply walk near the lakes.”

Read more: Chicago Tribune


Raiding the Bread Basket: Use and Abuse of the Mississippi River Basin

Photo retrieved from:

“A fleck of phosphorus fertilizer costs a farmer almost nothing. “But that half pinhead per gallon can cost society millions in lost recreational value and cleanup costs,” said Downing, an Iowa State University professor whose water-monitoring group tests 137 Iowa lakes.  “We don’t have lakes that we could point to and say: ‘Here is a pristine lake that has been unimpacted by people.’ ”

You wake up to cereal made from midwestern corn. You slip on cotton clothes, get into a vehicle fueled partly by ethanol and dine later on chicken and rice—all made possible by crops from the Mississippi River Basin, a vast area that stretches from Montana to New York and drains all or parts of 31 states.

The part of the basin east of the Mississippi River largely relies on rain to grow crops; farmers on the west side irrigate much, much more. All told, it’s among the most productive farming regions in the world.

Trouble is, fertilizer that flows from fields (and cities) takes a toll on local waters and eventually reaches the Mississippi River and the economically important fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico, where nitrogen and phosphorus pollution suffocates marine life and has led to a dead zone larger than the state of Connecticut.

What’s Grown

Nearly four out of 10 ears of corn grown in the world come from the Mississippi River watershed. So much corn, soy, and wheat grow here that some communities claim superlatives—Decatur, Illinois, “Soybean Capital of the World;” Sumner County, Kansas, “Wheat Capital of the World;” and Iowa, “Food Capital of the World.” The lion’s share of the country’s corn, grain, livestock, poultry, cotton, sorghum, and soy is grown in the Mississippi basin.”

Read more: National Geographic


California’s Delta Ecosystem Is Healthier, For Now

Photo retrieved from:

“High flows of water from the melting of deep snow in the Sierra provided enough for both the tiny fish known as the delta smelt, long considered on the brink of extinction, and for the farming communities that have chafed under legal rulings requiring them to give up water to keep the smelt and its ecosystem going.

Mike Taugher reported in The Contra Costa Times that an index reflecting the smelt’s abundance had seen a 10-fold increase, from a score of 29 in 2010 to 343 in 2011. The index was at its highest level in a decade, though still less than a quarter of the levelsrecorded in 1970 and 1980.

The high water levels were not necessarily the main or the only cause of the rebound — a representative of the Natural Resources Defense Council said that changes they had pushed for in the management of the estuary could also be responsible. But there was no question that the populations of fish besides the smelt — particularly the striped bass population — also did well, although shad did not.”

Read more: New York Times


Hawaii’s Watershed Moment: Killing Trees to Save Water

Retrieved from:

“As Hawaii residents struggle to feed their families, the Governor of Hawaii has just announced a new $110 million war on invasive species, spending $11 million per year to weed the forests of “undesirable” plants and animals, including food resources, over the next ten years.

The alleged excuse for this war is to protect our water resources. According to one study at UH, the nonnative strawberry guava tree uses 27% more water than native o’hia, although strangely not mentioned is that strawberry guava is highly drought resistant, making it suitable for our increasingly drought prone islands. Nevertheless, selling off of the fear of water loss, it is now being stated that all nonnative plants consume more water than native plants.”

Read more: Hawaii Reporter


Dayton asks Congress for help with invasive carp

Retrieved From:

ST. PAUL, Minn.—

Gov. Mark Dayton outlined an urgent case Monday for stopping invasive Asian carp from spreading widely in Minnesota’s waters, convening a summit where he said the state will need help from Congress and where officials discussed whether a Mississippi River lock and dam in Minneapolis should be permanently closed.

At the meeting billed as a “carp summit,” the first-term Democratic governor said the state risks running out of time to block the spread after scientists last month found DNA evidence of Asian carp in the St. Croix River along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. Dayton’s draft action plan calls on Congress to grant authority for emergency dam closures if invasive carp are found downstream. Other measures are also on the table, such as an air-bubbling barrier at the St. Croix mouth.

To Read More Click Here: Chicago Tribune