WBEZ | invasive species http://www.wbez.org/tags/invasive-species Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Gov. Pat Quinn open to Great Lakes, Mississippi basin separation http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-06/gov-pat-quinn-open-great-lakes-mississippi-basin-separation-107523 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Conceptual-rendering-of-a-physical-barrier-%28HDR%2C-Inc.%29.jpg" title="A conceptual rendering of a physical barrier and cargo transport station. Though initially costly, such a system would prevent economic turmoil from invasive species and create other benefits, proponents say. (HDR, Inc.)" /></div><p>In <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/asian-carp-might-have-entered-lakes-so-what-106613" target="_blank">the perennial battle to keep Asian carp and other riverborne invaders out of the Great Lakes</a>, one intervention is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-12/un-reversing-chicago-river-88976" target="_blank">often proposed as the only long-term solution</a>: separate the Mississippi River and Great Lakes watersheds.</p><p>Or, put another way: <a href="http://www.glc.org/caws/reportimages/CAWS-historicflowca1900-800pxw.jpg" target="_blank">restore the divide</a> that existed until <a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-12/postcard-historical-glimpse-reversal-chicago-river-89000" target="_blank">engineers reversed the flow of the Chicago River during the 19th century</a>, a feat that earned Chicago its can-do reputation and paved the way for the city&rsquo;s explosive growth.</p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn <a href="http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_GREAT_LAKES_GOVERNORS?SITE=AP&amp;SECTION=HOME&amp;TEMPLATE=DEFAULT" target="_blank">took the appreciable and unexpected step of endorsing, to some extent, the &quot;ultimate solution&quot;</a> of basin separation during a conference of the Council of Great Lakes Governors last week. It&rsquo;s a controversial position, as creating a system of physical barriers in the Chicago Area Waterway System would cost billions of dollars.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CAWS-allbarriers-750pxw.jpg" style="height: 490px; width: 610px;" title="Possible points of intervention. The study group that produced this map determined the Mid-System alternative provides the best bang for the buck — $4.27 billion bucks, to be exact. (Great Lakes Commission)" /></div><p>Critics say physical separation would cost communities along the industrial corridor that surrounds the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Blocking shipping lanes, for example, would disrupt barge traffic. Although it is a fraction of what it once was, shipping on the canal would need to change significantly, perhaps transferring cargo to freight trains.</p><p>And some worry even a physical barrier would do little to interrupt the most important vector of invasive species: human transport. <a href="http://www.annualreviews.org/eprint/RVivFUwWAidsIA7P6zAV/full/10.1146/annurev-marine-120710-100952" target="_blank">A recent survey of Great Lakes invaders since 1936</a> found only two species, the alewife and sea lamprey, made their way into the Great Lakes by swimming. The vast majority were &ldquo;unintentionally transported or released.&rdquo;</p><p>But others argue separation will generate significant benefits beyond stopping the spread of Asian carp. Waste from Chicago winds its way down the Mississippi, ending up in the Gulf of Mexico. Barrier locations could also house water treatment equipment, and returning some of that flow to Lake Michigan might even slightly <a href="http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/a-dutch-approach-to-flood-and-drought-management-takes-root-in-st.-louis?fb_action_ids=10101031603390335&amp;fb_action_types=og.likes&amp;fb_source=aggregation&amp;fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582" target="_blank">ease flooding downstream</a>.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.studiogang.net/publication/2011/reverse_effect" target="_blank">Reverse Effect</a></em>, a project by Chicago architects Studio Gang, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard University&rsquo;s Graduate School of Design, investigated how a barrier in the Chicago River&rsquo;s south branch could &ldquo;connect and recharge surrounding neighborhoods&rdquo; both culturally and economically.</p><p>Quinn and several governors <a href="http://greatlakesecho.org/2013/06/03/can-snyder-and-quinn-revive-dormant-great-lakes-governors/?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+greatlakesecho%2Fall+%28Great+Lakes+Echo+%28All%29%29" target="_blank">met in Mackinac Island, Mich. to discuss a range of Great Lakes economic and environmental issues</a> &mdash; the first time so many Great Lakes governors convened around the topic in eight years. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence maintained his state&rsquo;s opposition to separating the basins, citing economic concerns.</p><p>With Asian carp <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/asian-carp-might-have-entered-lakes-so-what-106613" target="_blank">on Lake Michigan&#39;s doorstep already</a>, many ecologists say now is the time to act. Next year the Army Corps of Engineers will make a recommendation on Asian carp, and separating the Great Lakes from the Mississippi will be among the options. Quinn&rsquo;s unexpected remarks Saturday encouraged those in favor of separation, but belied a divided group of Great Lakes governors.</p><p><em>Chris Bentley writes about the environment. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="http://www.twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 04 Jun 2013 12:09:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-06/gov-pat-quinn-open-great-lakes-mississippi-basin-separation-107523 Buckthorn draws out coyotes, cripples native frog development http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-05/buckthorn-draws-out-coyotes-cripples-native-frog-development-107271 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffagoldberg/4548680475/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/frog-by-jeff-goldberg.jpg" title="A bullfrog in Wright Woods Forest Preserve. A new NIU study found the invasive plant buckthorn threatens populations of native amphibians. (Flickr/Jeff Goldberg)" /></a></p><p>Ecologists have <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/hainesville-residents-fight-buckthorn" target="_blank">long known</a> of buckthorn&rsquo;s ability to push out native plants, but two new studies from Chicago scientists suggest the woody shrub also changes the distribution of large mammals like coyotes, and causes spinal defects in unborn frogs.</p><p>&quot;We already knew that the buckthorn was outcompeting other plant species,&quot; said Seth Magle, director of the Lincoln Park Zoo&rsquo;s Urban Wildlife Institute and author of one study currently in publication. &quot;But no one had looked at the mammal community to see if they&rsquo;re affected. And it turns out that they are.&quot;</p><p>An <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/invasive-species" target="_blank">invasive species</a> imported from Europe as an ornamental plant, buckthorn has overrun many native ecosystems, including&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/mouse-and-oak-tree-105543" target="_blank">oak savannas</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/restoring-prairieland-calumets-industrial-corridor-104751" target="_blank">prairieland</a>. Its spindly branches form a dense undergrowth that blocks sunlight from native plants, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/hacking-back-invasive-species-and-crime-105895" target="_blank">providing cover for crime</a> in some urban corridors. According to the new study, forthcoming in <em>Natural Areas Journal</em>, white-tailed deer were more likely to show up in sites without buckthorn, while coyotes and opossums were more common in sites invaded with buckthorn.</p><p>An Urban Wildlife Institute intern, Marian Vernon, first noticed the trend. Magle encouraged her to see if the data would bear out her observation. Vernon, now a PhD student at Yale University, and her colleagues used motion-triggered infrared cameras to document the appearance of different mammal species at 35 Chicago area sites.</p><p>The study also found seasonal changes in association with buckthorn. Coyotes shifted into sites with buckthorn from spring to summer, affecting the distribution of one of their preferred prey species, white-tailed deer.</p><p>While buckthorn may change the distribution of some mammals, another study suggests it directly harms amphibians.</p><p>Buckthorn emits a chemical called emodin, which has a wide variety of bioactive properties. Previous studies found emodin has laxative properties when eaten by some animals, and is allelopathic, meaning it inhibits the growth of other plant species nearby.</p><p>New research from Northern Illinois University student Allison Sacerdote-Velat and her PhD advisor Richard King found emodin also affects frog embryos, causing fatal kinks in their developing spines. The research is slated to be published in an upcoming edition of the <em>Journal of Herpetology</em>.</p><p>The effects hit native species harder than African clawed&nbsp;frogs, a common test species for environmental toxicity studies. Buckthorn produces emodin in its roots, fruit, bark and leaves, which it drops early in the season to salt the earth, so to speak, against competitors. Buckthorn in Illinois is particularly aggressive in its ability to invade wetlands, strengthening its impact on amphibians who live and breed in those areas.</p><p>The study found high levels of emodin coincided with the breeding activity of several Midwestern amphibian species, including western&nbsp;chorus&nbsp;frogs&nbsp;and blue-spotted salamanders.</p><p>&ldquo;[Buckthorn] litter is probably changing the aquatic invertebrate community,&rdquo; Sacerdote-Velat said. &ldquo;Over time these factors build up and you start losing species diversity.&rdquo;</p><p>The authors of both studies noted the need for further research. Magle pointed out that each study site had only one camera. Small mammals and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/lakefront-landing-strip-migrating-birds-106429" target="_blank">birds</a> are not big enough to set off the motion-triggered cameras, so it&rsquo;s not clear what effect, if any, buckthorn might have on other species.</p><p>For Magle, the research is a reminder that small ecosystem changes can have cascading effects.</p><p>&ldquo;It shows us that our urban areas are ecosystems,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;where everything is connected to everything else.&rdquo;</p></p> Mon, 20 May 2013 10:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-05/buckthorn-draws-out-coyotes-cripples-native-frog-development-107271 Keeping an aromatic invader at bay http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-05/keeping-aromatic-invader-bay-107163 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/beaver-fell-610px.jpg" title="Linda Ruxton, left, and John Pastirik peer over a sea of Mayapples towards evidence of beaver activity in Eggers Grove. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></div><p>Each spring the &quot;<a href="http://niipp.net/?page_id=1534" target="_blank">Garlic Mustard Challenge</a>,&quot; <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Of5BdKZD5o" target="_blank">which sounds more like</a> competitive eating than conservation, enlists volunteers around the country for a blitz on <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/incredible-edible-weed" target="_blank">an invasive plant that has edged out native species from Maine to Oregon</a>.</p><p>In the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-what-part-chicago-has-most-biodiversity-103725" target="_blank">relative hotbed of biodiversity</a>&nbsp;that is the northern Illinois-Indiana border, however, it only takes a couple faithful stewards to keep the aromatic invader at bay.</p><p>John Pastirik and Linda Ruxton live just blocks from Eggers Woods, the Forest Preserve site where they have led <a href="http://www.calumetstewardship.org/events/list/garlic-mustard-mondays-eggers-grove-forest-preserve-1#.UZHGTCuG3Os" target="_blank">weekly garlic mustard pulls</a> every spring for six years.</p><p>Pulling the white-flowered weed up from the roots, Ruxton explains how the plants quickly colonize new territory.</p><p>&ldquo;Every single one matters,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Because they each make thousands of seeds.&rdquo;</p><p>Like most successful invaders, garlic mustard can weather many environmental conditions. It springs up sooner than other understory plants and grows quickly, gaining an edge for sunlight and space on the forest floor.</p><p><img alt="Alliaria petiolata: Garlic Mustard" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/garlic-mustard.jpg" style="height: 187px; width: 305px; float: left;" title="Garlic Mustard — Alliaria petiolata (Chris Bentley/WBEZ)" />But they only flower every other year, which gives conservationists a window to cut back the population.</p><p>Where Pastirik, Ruxton and other volunteers have cleared the garlic mustard, native plants and wildflowers flourish. Solomon&rsquo;s Seal, Jack in the Pulpit, and Wild Geranium dot an expanse of Mayapples spanning the forest floor between white, red and burr oaks.</p><p>Pastirik, 55, grew up and still lives in the East Side neighborhood where Eggers Grove sits. Pastirik said his five older brothers teased him for taking a census of the preserve&rsquo;s tree species while he was a Cub Scout, but it hasn&rsquo;t kept him out of the woods.</p><p>Eggers Grove is a series of lowland marshes and slightly raised ridges &mdash; remnants of Lake Michigan&rsquo;s shorelines in its ancient iterations. Severe flooding in recent years has drowned many of the oaks lower along the sloping gradients between ridges. But the high ground is also risky.</p><p>Gnawed oak trunks and stumps reveal the recent arrival of beavers. Pastirik says it might be possible to lure them away by planting Aspens or other desirable species nearby, but trapping may be the only way to keep them from chewing through the keystone species of this former oak savanna.</p><p>Human use also takes it toll on the preserve. ATVs and dirt bikes, although they are forbidden, have dug tread marks into the trail. Invasive species like garlic mustard latch onto that upturned soil.</p><p>&ldquo;The ruts act like furrows in a farm field,&rdquo; Pastirik said.</p><p>Farther along the trail, where volunteers have not visited lately, the weeds grow almost waist-high. Hoisting an empty fertilizer bag full of uprooted garlic mustard, Ruxton signals to Pastirik where he should bring the crew next week.</p><p><object height="458" width="610"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157633497847418%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157633497847418%2F&amp;set_id=72157633497847418&amp;jump_to=" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157633497847418%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157633497847418%2F&amp;set_id=72157633497847418&amp;jump_to=" height="458" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="610"></embed></object></p><p><em>Chris Bentley writes about the environment. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 14 May 2013 15:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-05/keeping-aromatic-invader-bay-107163 EcoMyths: Emerald Ash Borer destroys millions of trees in Chicago and US http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-emerald-ash-borer-destroys-millions-trees-chicago-and-us-106872 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F90022516" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong>Slash and burn: Why so many trees are cut down in the Chicago area.</strong></p><p>Say hello to a small unwelcome guest: the emerald ash borer.</p><p>This invasive wood boring beetle has killed tens of millions of ash trees in the US and millions more to come. Cutting down these trees is just one strategy to get rid of the pest and save the remaining ash forest, but as we learned here at <a href="http://www.ecomythsalliance.org/">EcoMyths Alliance</a>, it&rsquo;s not enough. For the next segment of our <em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths">EcoMyths</a></em> series, Kate Sackman and Jerome McDonnell talk with Peter Gordon, city forester for Lake Forest, and David Horvath from <a href="http://www.thecareoftrees.com/">The Care of Trees</a> - both are ISA Certified Arborists.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP090611054785_1.jpg" style="float: left; width: 264px; height: 158px;" title="Emerald ash borer. Actual size of adult ranges from 3/8 to 5/8 inches. The invasive beetle has destroyed tens of millions of ash trees over the past decade. (AP Photo/Minnesota Dept. of Natural Resources, File)" /></div><p>Emerald ash borer (EAB) is an exotic insect native to China and eastern Asia. The bug hopped a ride to the U.S. in cheap wood packing material more than ten years ago. First detected in Michigan in 2002, today EAB infestation is a problem in 19 states. Most recently in <a href="http://myemail.constantcontact.com/For-Immediate-Release--Save-Your-Ash-Trees---Learn-to-ID-EAB--.html?soid=1109594220206&amp;aid=hPdylZ4kTmU">New Hampshire</a>, the state&rsquo;s department of agriculture confirmed detection on April 5<sup>th</sup>.</p><p>Aside from feeding on leaves, the adult beetles do little harm. Ruin occurs when in larva stage, EAB</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p>chew through trees and damage its vascular system &ndash; the tissue right under the tree bark that&rsquo;s responsible for transporting water and nutrients from the roots to the top leaves and branches.</p><p>Scientists say its continued spread across the country is most likely due to the sale of firewood from <a href="http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/emerald_ash_b/quarantine.shtml">quarantined</a> areas across state lines. Even worse: Stress from climate change, namely drought, makes the trees more vulnerable to EAB. North American ash trees have no natural resistance to this foreign guest.</p><p>Arborists explain with such a large food source for the pests, the problem is only expected to grow. According to one of the nation&rsquo;s largest tree care companies, The Care of Trees, Ash trees comprise 10 percent to 40 percent of local urban forests. Many ash trees were planted during the recent housing boom &ndash; creating a monoculture that makes them easy targets for EAB -- and they are natural reproducers.</p><p>So what to do? Initially, many communities took a wait and see approach, says Peter Gordon, city forester for Lake Forest, IL -- where 19 percent of the tree inventory is ash. EAB came to attention during the economic downturn, Gordon notes, and budget-strained municipalities had few resources for tree treatment.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" height="181" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP1110260175558_1.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Forester Jeff Wiegert, of the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, points out markings left from emerald ash borer larvae on an ash tree. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)" width="240" /></div><p>&ldquo;The strategy was to see how states, count[ies] and towns handled EAB where it was first discovered,&rdquo; he adds.&nbsp; &ldquo;But now we don&rsquo;t have as many options.&rdquo;</p><p>Indeed EAB is an epidemic and can&rsquo;t be ignored, says Fredric Miller, a professor of horticulture at Joliet Junior College and a research associate with the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Ill.</p><p>&ldquo;If you choose not to do any treatment, you will be overrun,&rdquo; Miller says. &ldquo;What communities have to come to grips with is that either you are going to manage this on your schedule, or the insect will dictate the schedule.&rdquo; And that means, in part, cutting down lots of trees in our neighborhoods in an effort to stop or slow the spread of EAB.</p><p>Arborists explain the alternative for a badly infested tree &ndash; allowing it to die from EAB damage and then cutting it down &ndash; is worse, because it does nothing to prevent the beetle from paying a house visit to a neighboring tree. Also, Miller points out, dead ash trees are a dangerous liability and must be removed &ndash; they&rsquo;re structurally weak and can fall during wind or ice storms. Many of these trees line walkways and paths in neighborhoods and forest preserves.</p><p>But some trees can, and should, be saved with proper insecticide treatment, explains David Horvath, an arborist in suburban Chicago with The Care of Trees.</p><p>Horvath says that homeowners and municipalities are now charged with identifying &ldquo;valuable&rdquo; trees &ndash; generally larger (greater than 12 inches in diameter) that provide environmental benefits such as shade to decrease energy demand, a deep root system that mitigates storm water damage or simply beauty to the property.</p><p>Overall, an integrated approach &ndash; treatment, prevention and some targeted tree removal &ndash; is the best way to put the brakes on EAB, and avoid destroying urban forest, say Horvath and the other scientists EcoMyths interviewed.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP03041601077_0.jpg" style="width: 244px; height: 159px; float: left;" title="Crews cut down trees infected with the Emerald Ash Borer, north of Whitehouse, Ohio. (AP Photo/J.D. Pooley, File)" /></div><p>According to a 2011 article in the <a href="http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/jrnl/2011/nrs_2011_kovacs_002.pdf">Journal of Environmental Management</a>, prevention and treatment may make more sense economically, too. The estimated cost of treatment, removal and replacement of EAB in all affected states from 2010 through 2020 is $12.5 billion. Prevention tactics (such as destroying egg-laying EAB and targeted tree removal) could slash those costs by up to $7.5 billion, the authors concluded.</p><p>In the Chicago area, for example, municipalities spend up to $1,100 to remove and replace one tree, according to a 2012 survey conducted by Miller and his team.&nbsp; He notes that the same tree can be treated with insecticides for more than 50 years at the same cost.</p><p>Insecticides may sound nasty, but remember the alternative: cutting down the tree or letting it die anyhow, while giving that nasty beetle a free pass for its next meal. Plus, when used correctly and responsibly, experts say, insecticides targeting EAB are not likely to harm humans or the environment.</p><p>How else are government and science addressing the spread of EAB? Interstate regulation prohibits the sale of firewood from <a href="http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/emerald_ash_b/quarantine.shtml">quarantined</a> areas. Also any wood packing material used for international trade must be fumigated or heat-treated, explains Kerry Britton, a national pathologist with the U.S. Forest Service who studies invasive forest pests.</p><p>Another strategy: Britton notes that researchers are trying to breed ash trees with natural resistance to EAB by crossing Asian ash trees that fight off the pest with vulnerable North American ash species.</p><p>&ldquo;By the time the beetle was detected, it could not be eradicated,&rdquo; Britton says. &ldquo;The goal now is to slow it down.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>One Green Thing You Can Do: </strong></p><p>Don&rsquo;t move firewood from <a href="http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/emerald_ash_b/quarantine.shtml">quarantined</a> areas. One study showed that EAB can establish on a credit card-size piece of bark.</p><p>Keep an eye out for EAB, whether in your yard or your neighborhood. Here&rsquo;s a <a href="http://www.extension.iastate.edu/pme/Publications/EAB/FAQSUL21AshTrees.pdf">helpful guide</a> to identifying ash trees and distinguishing between EAB and other problems. Realistically, your best bet is to call an <a href="http://www.tcia.org/">accredited tree care company</a> since early evidence of EAB damage occurs at the treetop level, where it&rsquo;s not visible to most folks. <strong>Now</strong> is the time to act. Treating trees by mid-May minimizes the damage by adult beetles, which emerge in the spring. If detected early, trees can be treated with insecticide rather than being cut down.&nbsp;</p><p>Think you spotted one? <a href="http://www.emeraldashborer.info/call.cfm#sthash.59Vb2IGy.dpbs">Report</a> it to your state&rsquo;s agriculture department office or the call USDA&rsquo;s EAB toll-free hotline at 1-866-322-4512.</p><p><strong>Resources:</strong></p><p>The unofficial <a href="http://www.emeraldashborer.info/treatment.cfm#sthash.jVmXYeMO.dpbs">EAB web site</a> with background and treatment information, a collaborative education effort by state universities and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service</p><p>A <a href="http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/emerald_ash_b/downloads/multistateeab.pdf">map</a> showing EAB detections across the U.S. and Canada as of December, 2012 (does not reflect the recent discovery of EAB in New Hampshire)</p><p>To save or not to save? A <a href="http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/EAB/pdf/NABB_DecisionGuide.pdf">guide</a> deciding when to treat EAB</p><p>Summary argument by <a href="http://labs.russell.wisc.edu/eab/files/2012/03/EAB-Consensus-Document.pdf">Coalition for Urban Ash Tree Conservation</a> on why ash tree conservation is preferable to wholesale tree removal</p><p><a href="http://www.slameab.info/">SLAM</a> (Slow Ash Mortality) is a pilot project in Michigan &ndash; ground zero for EAB &ndash; to slow down beetle infestation.</p></p> Mon, 29 Apr 2013 08:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/ecomyths/ecomyths-emerald-ash-borer-destroys-millions-trees-chicago-and-us-106872 Asian carp might have entered lakes, but so what? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/asian-carp-might-have-entered-lakes-so-what-106613 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/43254442@N05/4797302102/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/silver%20carp%20by%20michigan%20sea%20grant.jpg" style="height: 458px; width: 610px;" title="Silver carp, one of the several species collectively referred to as Asian carp. (Michigan Sea Grant/Dan O'Keefe)" /></a></div><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/new-study-finds-asian-carp-dna-chicago-waterways-106520">New evidence suggesting Asian carp may already be in the Great Lakes basin</a> has renewed fears that the invasive species could pose an existential threat to the area&rsquo;s lucrative fishing industry.</p><p>&ldquo;The fact that fish may already be in the lake does not mean it&rsquo;s game over,&rdquo; said Lindsay Chadderton, aquatic invasive species director for The Nature Conservancy. &ldquo;The real risk is that if we continue to debate and don&rsquo;t act, we may lose that opportunity.&rdquo;</p><p>But the charismatic fish, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jb8OmEr7VqI">infamous for their tendency to leap out of the water</a> (though they&#39;re unlikely to do so in the deep waters of Lake Michigan), are no shoe-in when it comes to colonizing the Great Lakes.</p><p>&ldquo;In my view, the Mississippi River basin is the least of Lake Michigan&#39;s worries, because the habitat is so warm, rich and shallow that its denizens would be completely unfit in cold, dilute, deep Lake Michigan,&rdquo; said Russell Cuhel, a senior scientist with the <a href="http://www4.uwm.edu/freshwater/">Great Lakes WATER Institute</a>. To reproduce, carp need access to rivers where there is an amply flowing water column to help disperse their eggs. That isn&rsquo;t common in most of the Great Lakes, but some places, including Lake Erie and the Detroit River, could provide the right conditions.</p><p>The sea lamprey, another invasive species that decimated the Lake Trout population, shares an Achilles heel with Asian carp. Like the carp, lamprey head upstream to breed. To control their spread, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission applies specialized poisons that kill young lampreys in streambeds before they reach open water and mature. It&rsquo;s possible that if carp do establish themselves in the Great Lakes, a similar strategy could control their population. But it&rsquo;s no sure bet.</p><p>&ldquo;Invasive species never do what we expect them to do,&rdquo; Chadderton said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re opportunistic. That&rsquo;s why they&rsquo;re good invaders.&rdquo;</p><p>At any rate the jury is still out on whether carp could flourish in the unfamiliar Great Lakes ecosystem. Unlike carp, the wildly successful quagga and zebra mussels, which first <a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-11/battle-over-ballast-waters-88934">arrived as stowaways in ship ballast tanks</a>, breed where they live and are capable of producing 1 million eggs per year. In many areas of the Great Lakes they now blanket the lake floor, and have become by far the most dominant species by biomass in Lake Michigan.</p><p>Those mussels have devoured much of the available phytoplankton &mdash; the same food source carp depend on &mdash; posing another challenge for the new invader. Research suggests that carp might be able to survive on other food sources, however, including mussel feces. And even minor competition from the voracious carp, which can eat up to one fifth of their body weight in plankton each day, could place further pressure on young walleye and other sport fish that also eat plankton in their larval stage.</p><p>While the lamprey and the equally disruptive alewife entered the Lakes on their own volition, they are the exception to the rule. <a href="http://www.annualreviews.org/eprint/RVivFUwWAidsIA7P6zAV/full/10.1146/annurev-marine-120710-100952">Recent research published by Cuhel and Carmen Aguilar in the <em>Annual Review of Marine Science</em></a> found few of the <a href="http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/suppl/10.1146/annurev-marine-120710-100952/suppl_file/ma.05.cuhel.supmat.pdf">many invaders since 1936</a> established themselves by swimming into the Lakes. Most were unintentionally transported or released.</p><p>&ldquo;It only takes one idiot to infect a location with an exotic [species],&rdquo; Cuhel said. &ldquo;One fisherman with a bait bucket can be worse than river flow.&rdquo;</p><p>Cuhel won&rsquo;t weigh in on policy or engineering proposals to physically separate the Great Lakes and Mississippi basins, or treat locks with chemicals that could clear out carp and other invasive species before they enter Lake Michigan. But others have called <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/electric-barrier-last-line-against-invasive-species">expensive efforts to keep out invaders</a> a foolhardy investment.</p><p>There are dozens of species in the Great Lakes basin that don&rsquo;t currently exist in the Mississippi, and nearly a dozen more vice versa. Aquatic invasive species protections could defend those populations from cross-contamination. What&rsquo;s more, environmental agencies already spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year managing algal blooms, sea lamprey and mussels. That makes an economic argument for prevention measures, Chadderton said, even if the carp don&rsquo;t turn out to be good colonizers of most Great Lakes waters.</p><p>&ldquo;The trouble with any invasion is that there will always be evidence on both sides. So do you let the experiment run?&rdquo; Chadderton said. &ldquo;The most prudent management option is to prevent establishment.&rdquo;</p></p> Thu, 11 Apr 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-04/asian-carp-might-have-entered-lakes-so-what-106613 Hacking back invasive species, and crime http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/hacking-back-invasive-species-and-crime-105895 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/kickapoo610px.jpg" title="Members of the Calumet Invasive Species Conservation Corps toss sections of felled tress onto a fire in Kickapoo Woods. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></p><p>Brenda Elmore grew up in West Pullman, literally a stone&rsquo;s throw from the Whistler Preserve in Riverdale, Ill. Even though she has always lived within walking distance of some of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County&rsquo;s largest holdings, she learned from a young age to stay away from them.</p><p>&ldquo;I used to be scared to come anywhere near it,&rdquo; Elmore said.</p><p>She says her parents told her that Jason, the machete-wielding killer from the <em>Friday the 13<sup>th </sup></em>movies, lived in the Forest Preserves. In reality, they were worried about gangs. The far south side forest preserves&rsquo; seclusion and proximity to areas troubled by gang activity made them ideal <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1991-12-10/news/9104210097_1_decomposed-body-shallow-graves">dumping grounds for bodies</a>. And a dense underbrush of white poplar, buckthorn and purple loosestrife &mdash; all invasive species &mdash; obscured any view of the interior from the road.</p><p>As she cuts back invasive species with a chainsaw&nbsp;in Kickapoo Woods, it&rsquo;s clear Elmore, 50, has come a long way &mdash; and so have the Forest Preserves. She is part of the Calumet Invasive Species Conservation Corps, an EPA-funded program that hired workers from underrepresented areas of Chicago to restore at least 228 acres of wetland and wet prairieland in the Calumet region. Friends of the Forest Preserves co-administers the $518,467 federal grant, which is part of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, with the Student Conservation Association.</p><p>&ldquo;Our first time out here it was just an impenetrable mass,&rdquo; says Elmore, an alumna of the city&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/greencorps-graduates-cultivate-citys-green-jobs-105042">Green Corps job training program</a>. &ldquo;We had to fight our way through it.&rdquo;</p><p>Prairie restoration in the Calumet, as in many places, is largely about <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/restoring-prairieland-calumets-industrial-corridor-104751">clearing invasives that have choked out native species</a> by blocking all the light. Dozens of species of bygone prairie grasses still have seeds lying dormant in the soil, and could take off once again if conservationists can help them establish a foothold.</p><p>A five-person crew hacked at ash trees and white poplars Monday, nearly one and a half years into their two-year stint with the program. Aerial photographs from 2007 and 2011 show how much progress they, along with volunteer groups and contractors, have made.</p><p>&ldquo;I always turn the group around on their way out of the site after a day&rsquo;s work,&rdquo; says group supervisor Brian Mann. &ldquo;So they can see the impact they have.&rdquo;</p><p>A <a href="http://thenatureniche.com/2011/10/11/construction-of-sandhill-cranes/">construction</a> of sandhill cranes flies overhead. They are migrating and looking for somewhere to stop off. Kickapoo probably doesn&rsquo;t have enough water to attract them, Mann says, but as biodiversity returns to the site it is likely to sustain species the area&#39;s stewards would have been lucky to spot decades ago.</p><p>For Mann, who came to this line of work from real estate and then plumbing, restoration is also about self-discovery.</p><p>&ldquo;I used to hate getting up in the morning,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Now I love my job.&rdquo;</p><p>It is a similar story for Elmore.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t realize I liked being outside as much as I do,&rdquo; she says. At first Green Corps was &ldquo;just a job&rdquo; for her, she says, but she soon realized she liked the work. After the Calumet Invasive Species Conservation Corps program is complete, Elmore hopes to land a job that will keep her outside, working with nature.</p><p><object height="458" width="610"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157632920439174%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157632920439174%2F&amp;set_id=72157632920439174&amp;jump_to=" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157632920439174%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2F34610267%40N05%2Fsets%2F72157632920439174%2F&amp;set_id=72157632920439174&amp;jump_to=" height="458" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="610"></embed></object></p></p> Tue, 05 Mar 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/hacking-back-invasive-species-and-crime-105895 Calumet restoration efforts get influx of cash from feds http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/calumet-restoration-efforts-get-influx-cash-feds-105422 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/virtualphotographers/5129850054/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/calumet.jpg" style="height: 456px; width: 610px;" title="In the Calumet region, Chicago's industrial and ecological histories are deeply intertwined. (virtualphotographers via Flickr)" /></a></p><p>The Forest Preserve District of Cook County announced Wednesday a $520,000 restoration project that will help knit together sensitive ecosystems in the Calumet region, where <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/grand-calumet-river%E2%80%99s-road-recovery-105164">a contaminated river</a> and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-01/restoring-prairieland-calumets-industrial-corridor-104751">an abundance of invasive species</a> have long threatened <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-what-part-chicago-has-most-biodiversity-103725">biodiversity in the Chicago region</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;What is great about this project,&rdquo; said Forest Preserve District Resource Ecologist Dan Spencer, &ldquo;is it takes elements of projects that other agencies have done in the past and puts them into a cohesive whole.&rdquo;</p><p>The targeted sites &mdash; Sand Ridge Nature Preserve,&nbsp;Jurgensen Woods and Green Lake Savanna &mdash; are all within three miles of one another. In addition to clearing out invasive species, the restoration will focus on education. Audubon and Fuller Park Community Development will encourage local conservationists to engage with the site, although details are still being worked out.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve wanted to work at Jurgensen woods for a while but never had the funds to do it,&rdquo; Spencer said. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded the bulk of the money, which come from the Obama Administration&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.glri.us/">Great Lakes Restoration Initiative</a>. Cook County is contributing $160,000, while Audubon will kick in $10,000.</p><p>The four sites span more than 1,000 acres of vulnerable &ldquo;dune and swale&rdquo; ecosystems, composed of interwoven strings of wetlands and dry, sandy ridges.</p><p>When ancient glaciers covering much of the Midwest receded hundreds of thousands of years ago, they dumped their water into Lake Michigan&rsquo;s ancestor, Lake Chicago. The Calumet region&rsquo;s sandy ridges are the geological remains of ancient beaches.</p><p>Work will start in the spring, Spencer said, and the funds must be spent by October of 2014.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/GreenLakeSavBrush2012.jpg" style="height: 471px; width: 610px;" title="Green Lake Savanna" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/JurgensenWds%282%292012.jpg" style="height: 471px; width: 610px;" title="Jurgensen Woods" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SRNP_Total_CalumetProject13.jpg" style="height: 471px; width: 610px;" title="Sand Ridge Nature Preserve" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SRNC_TotalCalumet13.jpg" style="height: 789px; width: 610px;" title="Sand Ridge Nature Center" /></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 08 Feb 2013 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/calumet-restoration-efforts-get-influx-cash-feds-105422 Illinois closes fishing at 2 lakes to battle carp http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-closes-fishing-2-lakes-battle-carp-97087 <p><p>Two central Illinois lakes will be closed to fishing this year as the state battles invasive common carp.</p><p>The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says the Hennepin and Hopper Lakes in Putnam County will be closed to all public sport fishing. Both lakes are located 40 miles north of Peoria along the Illinois River.</p><p>The DNR has been working with The Wetlands Initiative, a nonprofit organization, to remove carp from the lakes over the last few years. Both lakes were drained in 2009, and a fish toxicant was applied to try to kill off the carp.</p><p>However, by last summer, ecologists realized that enough fish survived and have staged what they're calling a "carp comeback."</p><p>The Wetlands Initiative says it's tweaking the removal strategy to make the effort more successful.</p></p> Thu, 08 Mar 2012 15:25:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/illinois-closes-fishing-2-lakes-battle-carp-97087 The battle over ballast waters http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-11/battle-over-ballast-waters-88934 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-June/2011-06-22/St. Lawrence Flickr Neil Smith.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Let’s say you’re the captain of a ship tied up at one of dozens of ports along the St. Lawrence Seaway or the Great Lakes.&nbsp; You’re taking on a cargo of iron ore or corn or salt.&nbsp; As you fill your hold, you keep your ship level by pumping water out of your ballast tanks.&nbsp;The trouble is that all of that ballast water could have been collected just about anywhere on the planet.&nbsp;</p><p>James Tierney is assistant commissioner for water quality for New York state’s Conservation Department and an expert on ballast water pollution, he says, &nbsp;“Ballast water may be sucked out of a port in the Black Sea, or Singapore, or Amsterdam.&nbsp; And then it’s brought over and it’s released.&nbsp; So ballast water has been a very effective mechanism to bring in all sorts of invasive species.”</p><p>Tierney says tiny creatures literally hide in the scum and saltwater stored inside these ships. Once they're dumped here in the Seaway they are free to spread.&nbsp; And that’s exactly what they’ve done, turning up in waterways from Quebec in the east to Minnesota in the west.&nbsp;</p><p>Jennifer Caddick heads a green group called Save the River.&nbsp; On a brilliant summer day she takes me to a narrow stretch of the St. Lawrence Seaway near Clayton New York, not far from Lake Ontario. “Things like the zebra mussel, round goby, spiny waterfleas, quagga mussels, all of those things have come in through ship ballast tanks,” she says.</p><p>It looks like a healthy stretch of river.&nbsp; But Caddick says just two of those alien invaders – the zebra mussel and the quagga mussel – have spread so rapidly and grown so densely that they are altering the entire food chain of the Great Lakes.&nbsp; They're changing the chemistry in the water, and triggering nasty algae blooms. “We’re seeing massive outbreaks of this cladophora algae, which along with it harbors bacteria.&nbsp; And when cladophora algae dies and washes up on shore, it smells like sewage,” she says.</p><p>In the Great Lakes, invasive species have climbed to the top of the list of environmental threats, right up there with climate change. Jeff Alexander – an environmental activist and writer based in Ann Arbor Michigan – believes the opening of the Seaway triggered a kind of slow-moving ecological disaster, far more devastating than the Gulf oil spill. “ You know an oil spill can be cleaned up to some extent, while invasive species, the problem just continues to grow and spread,” he says.</p><p>Alexander published a book last year called "Pandora’s Locks."&nbsp; He argues that invasive organisms sneaking in through the Seaway could leave the Great Lakes unrecognizable, shredding the natural network of plants and animals that evolved over thousands of years. “The truth is that nobody knows how this story is going to play out.&nbsp; The scientists can’t do research fast enough to keep up with the changes.&nbsp; And no one can tell you what the lakes will look like in 5, 10 or 25 years,” says Alexander.</p><p>That danger has sparked an ugly international feud over just what kind of ballast water regulations are needed to keep new invaders out.&nbsp;Last year, New York state approved strict new regulations that could eventually force each cargo ship entering the Seaway to have its own miniature waste water treatment plant right on board.&nbsp;</p><p>James Tierney with New York’s Conservation Department says that’s the only way to be sure nothing nasty gets through, “You have to put equipment on your ship that kills animals, bacteria, viruses, crustaceans that might be carried in ballast water.”</p><p>&nbsp;New York’s regulation sets a standard for clean ballast water a hundred times more restrictive than current international rules – a fact that thrills environmentalists. The state planned to put the rules into effect next year, but under intense pressure Tierney delayed the deadline for compliance to August of 2013.</p><p>Canadian officials want the stricter standards scrapped entirely, arguing that the cost of buying and installing new equipment is too high.&nbsp; Last year, Canada’s government asked the US State Department to intervene, arguing that New York’s standards&nbsp;could “have the effect of shutting down access to the St. Lawrence Seaway."</p><p>Speaking in Montreal last month, Canadian environment minister Peter Kent warned that states and provinces shouldn't get too far in front of international standards.&nbsp; “We just have to make sure that as time goes on we have to stay closely aligned so that we’re in step and complimentary,” he said.</p><p>Canadians are angry, in part, because much of the Seaway lies in their territory and links their ports.&nbsp;&nbsp;But even ships moving between Canadian harbors that pass through New York waters would have to meet the new standards. Bob Dalley runs the Canadian port in Prescott, Ontario.&nbsp;&nbsp;He says none of the ships that dock here could comply, “That would be a huge issue for all vessels coming in and using the St. Lawrence.&nbsp;&nbsp;But yeah, that would definitely have a impact.”</p><p>Some US officials agree that New York state has gone too far.&nbsp;&nbsp;Collister Johnson heads the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, the agency that operates the US portion of the shipping route and says, “There is no other jurisdiction in the world.&nbsp; I’m talking not about states and provinces, but countries…that is proposing a set of ballast water regulations like the state of New York.”</p><p>Johnson says the current rules, introduced three years ago, are adequate.&nbsp;&nbsp;Those require ships to dump any water picked up in foreign ports while on the high seas.&nbsp;&nbsp;Vessels take on cleaner saltwater before entering North American harbors.&nbsp; If the Seaway is held to a higher standard, Johnson says, the cost of new equipment and technology will force shipping companies to take their cargoes to other ports on the East Coast, “ It is a great concern to the Seaway because it would shut down the Seaway.&nbsp; And it’s a great concern to Canada because it is impacting their sovereignty.”</p><p>The US Environmental Protection Agency and the Coast Guard plan to propose their own updated ballast water rules this November.&nbsp;&nbsp;Lisa Jackson, who heads the EPA, says some kind of new accord is needed to end the confusion, “Right now we sort of have the worst of all worlds.&nbsp;&nbsp;We have individual states doing standards.&nbsp; We have shippers who I guess in some reality could have to meet the most stringent.&nbsp; But that situation is evolving.”</p><p>All sides say New York state will face enormous pressure to change its regulations to match the Federal standards -- even if they're less stringent. As negotiations and backroom talks continue, scientists say new invasive plants and animals are still arriving in the Great Lakes every year, many of them shipped in through the Seaway.</p></p> Mon, 11 Jul 2011 14:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-11/battle-over-ballast-waters-88934 Biologists battle killer in the Great Lakes http://www.wbez.org/content/biologists-battle-killer-great-lakes-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/frontandcenter/photo/2011-07-06/88734/Lamprey eel_Front and Center.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A lot of people are worried about Asian carp swimming into the Great Lakes. We know from experience how bad an invasive species can be. Sea lamprey devastated the Great Lakes fishery in the 1940s and 50s, and they still kill a lot of fish.</p><p>Sea lamprey are native to the Atlantic Ocean. They swam into the upper Great Lakes through ship canals. Now that they’re here, they can’t be eradicated; they can only be reduced in number, and that’s a constant battle.</p><div class="daylife_smartgalleries_container" style="border: medium none; margin: 0pt; padding: 0pt; overflow: hidden; height: 375px; width: 550px; text-align: center;"><iframe class="daylife_smartgalleries_frame" src="http://galleries.wbez.org/gallery_slideshow/1309889044740?width=550&amp;disable_link_to_hosted_page=0&amp;height=375&amp;show_related=0" style="border: medium none; margin: 0pt; padding: 0pt; overflow: hidden; height: 100%; width: 100%;" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></div><p><br> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; } div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted #aa211d; border-top-width: 1px; border-top-style: dotted; border-top-color: #aa211d; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; } ul { margin-left: 15px; } li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-repeat-x: no-repeat; background-repeat-y: no-repeat; background-position: 0 5px; background-position-x: 0px; background-position-y: 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-28/FNC-inset-promo.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 50px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/about-front-and-center-%E2%80%93-depth-reporting-great-lakes-87655">About Front and Center</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-05/big-ship-diary-88726">Big ship diary: nine days on a freighter </a></strong></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-04/dredging-shipping-industry-declares-state-emergency-88579"><strong>Dredging: Great Lakes shipping emergency</strong></a></li></ul><p><strong>BLOG POST</strong></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-07-06/great-lakes-least-loved-creature-video-88538"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-05/Bloody Sealamp_.jpg" style="width: 84px; height: 64px; float: left;" title=""></a><span style="font-size: 11px;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/2011-07-06/great-lakes-least-loved-creature-video-88538"><strong>The Great Lakes<br> least loved<br> creature (VIDEO)</strong></a></span></p><p>&nbsp;</p></div></div><p>“It’s kind of a whack-a-mole situation,” says Don Schreiner, area fisheries supervisor for Lake Superior for the Minnesota DNR.Federal, state, and Canadian government agencies cooperate on sea lamprey control. Schreiner says they’ve tried cutting back efforts on some lakes.</p><p>“We thought we had them under control,” he says. “We moved that control to another lake that needed more help, and sea lamprey just blossomed where we moved the control away from.”</p><p>Sea lamprey swim up rivers to reproduce, so many of the tributaries into the Great Lakes have lamprey barriers now. Fish ladders allow other fish to pass, but sea lamprey can’t get over them.</p><p>On a June morning, Tom Davies visited the barrier on the Brule River in northern Wisconsin. Davies is a seasonal worker for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. One of his jobs is to climb down into a trap on the side of the barrier in hip waders and use a net to scoop out the sea lamprey that have been trapped that day.&nbsp; Davies says some days, there are as many as 600 sea lamprey in the trap.</p><p>“You come down off the ladder and you’re literally stepping on them, and they’re swimming all around you, hitting you in the waders,” he says.</p><p>Davies says he and his coworkers have joked that the TV show “Fear Factor” should have had people in swimming suits climb into the trap. It would have been horrifying. Adult sea lamprey are a foot or more long, gray and slimy looking. They look like eels, but a sea lamprey’s head ends in a big, round suction cup mouth, filled with rows of teeth. They kill fish by latching onto them, rasping a hole, and sucking out the fluids.</p><p>Davies grabs a sea lamprey and lets it latch onto his bare arm. He has to pry it off.</p><p>“See the mark they leave so quick?” he asks. There’s a red ring on his skin.</p><p>Workers at the barriers measure and sex the lampreys. The males are saved for one of the control projects. They’re sterilized and released in the St. Mary’s River, between Lake Superior and Lake Huron, where they compete with fertile males and reduce the number of fertilized eggs.</p><p>Workers also apply a chemical to streams where sea lamprey spawn to kill the young.</p><p>The Minnesota DNR’s Don Schreiner says these control efforts cost $20 million a year, “and that’s funding we continually fight for in Congress.” It’s on the books to be reduced by 20 percent in 2012.</p><p>Schreiner says the Great Lakes’ fishery depends on sea lamprey control. Estimates of the worth of that fishery range as high as $7 billion. Most of that economic return comes from sport fishing, but commercial fishing is important to the Great Lakes region, too.</p><p>Even on Lake Superior’s north shore, where the water is cold and deep and doesn’t produce a lot of fish, a small commercial fishery has made a comeback.</p><p>In the early 20<sup>th</sup> century, there were more than 400 commercial fishermen on the Minnesota shore of Lake Superior. But overfishing, pollution, and sea lamprey devastated the fish population. Today, some of that pollution has been cleaned up, fishing has been restricted, and some fish are stocked. Fish such as lake trout and cisco have rebounded. But the state is being conservative, and will only license 25 commercial fishermen.</p><p>Most of those fishermen also do something else for a living. But fisherman Stephen Dahl says he’s not part of a vanishing breed.</p><p>“There’s definitely a perception that we’re the last of the Mohicans, we’re dying out,” Dahl says. “And it’s like, no, it’s changed. It’s a changed world.”</p><p>Dahl heads out into the big lake in a small, open boat every morning, unless there’s too much ice in the harbor for him to break through. He hauls nets from the depths by hand. It’s hard work. Some days the lake is rough and the wind howls. He laughs when he’s asked about being wet and cold.</p><p>“I think I was born wet and cold,” he says.</p><p>Dahl is only allowed to catch cisco, which North Shore fishermen refer to as lake herring. In other parts of the lake, it’s legal for commercial fishermen to take trout and whitefish. They’ve got a ready market. Restaurants and delis on the shore snap up the fish when they’re available. Sometimes, when people know the fish are running, they’ll come to the dock and buy the fish right from the fishermen.</p><p>“This whole local food movement is really good,” Dahl says. It’s increased demand. “Most of the time I can’t keep up.”</p><p>The local food movement helps support an apprentice Dahl recently trained. Dahl’s apprentice, Jason Bradley, now has his own master’s license and his own boat. He’s also co-owner of a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm. His customers get the usual box of vegetables, but they can also get a herring share.</p><p>Customer Mark Gordon co-owns a charter sailing business, and likes to serve his customers local food. He’s a big fan of Jason Bradley’s herring.</p><p>“You just feel good eating the fish when you know it’s come right out of the lake,” Gordon says. “There’s no question about where it’s come from and how it was processed.”</p><p>Lake Superior fish is also sold around the country, and even overseas. Some of it goes to Iowa and is made into gefilte fish. Some of the roe goes to Scandinavia.</p><p>Native fish have bounced back in Lake Superior, but the DNR’s Don Schreiner says it’s still a “precarious situation.”</p><p>Schreiner says control measures keep sea lamprey numbers down to about 5 to 10 percent of what they were at their height.</p><p>“It sounds like we’ve done a good job, and we have,” Schreiner says. “Except that sea lamprey are very efficient.”He says biologists estimate that sea lamprey still kill as many fish in Lake Superior as sport and commercial fishing combined.</p></p> Wed, 06 Jul 2011 16:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/biologists-battle-killer-great-lakes-0