Wednesday, December 18, 2013

NY Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management Statewide

For Release: IMMEDIATE
Contact: Lori Severino
Monday, December 16, 2013 (518) 402-8000
State Continues to Seek Comments on Invasive Species Regulations through December 23
Every area of the state now has a partnership working to combat invasive species at the local and regional level, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joseph Martens announced today. New York State recently finalized a contract establishing the final of eight Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) in Western New York, achieving the important statewide milestone. Each PRISM is funded by the state Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and has a full time coordinator.
"Invasive species can have a devastating effect, not only on the environment, but also on the economy," Commissioner Martens said."By partnering with non-profits, universities and consultants, New York is establishing one of the nation's most comprehensive approaches to invasive species management. A regional, coordinated approach that benefits from research, statewide education and outreach, online resources and a robust database are critical to New York's success in managing invasive species."
New York's PRISMs are regional private-public partnerships that have diverse memberships, including local and state governments, conservation and trade organizations, academia, landowner associations and interested citizens. The partnerships are focused on shared goals including education and outreach, developing and coordinating volunteer invasive species monitoring programs, and controlling select invasive species in priority locations.
"The vision for the State of New York's invasive species program is becoming a reality. The State's sustained commitment to advancing its invasive species program enabled the development of one of the most comprehensive frameworks in the country," said Hilary Smith, Chair of the New York Invasive Species Advisory Committee and Director of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program PRISM. "Involving governmental and non-governmental organizations in shared decision-making is essential for success and has inspired innovative and effective approaches now underway."
DEC recently published proposed invasive species regulations including lists of species proposed for prohibition or regulation that are open for public comment through December 23 and four hearings are underway statewide. More information on the proposed regulations can be found at: In addition, DEC is drafting an updated aquatic invasive species plan that includes recommended actions and a time table for implementation.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Map Shows County-by-County Data on Drinking Water from Seasonal and Rain-Dependent Streams

EPA has used the National Hydrography Dataset to create a county-by-county map of the percent of the population that receives at least some of its drinking water from streams that are seasonal, rain-dependent or headwaters. It's easy to tell upon first glance just how incredibly important these streams are for drinking water across the nation. Clicking on a specific county can tell the local story. This is where we get to the number: at least 117 million Americans get drinking water from these streams.

For more information, visit the EPA Connect blog

View the Interactive MAP
Source: EPA Water Headlines

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

APA Accepting Public Comment on Guidance for Use of Aquatic Herbicide


CONTACT: Keith P. McKeever
Public Relations
(518) 891-4050


RAY BROOK, NY * The Adirondack Park Agency is accepting public comment for recently proposed Agency guidance for the use of the aquatic herbicides Renovate* and Renovate* OTF to manage the aquatic invasive plant Eurasian watermilfoil. The comment period will run through November 7, 2013.

The purpose of the guidance is to provide clear direction to involved parties on the use of the aquatic herbicides Renovate* and Renovate* OTF to manage Eurasian watermilfoil. Requirements include prior use of non-chemical treatments (hand harvesting, benthic barriers), limiting applications to large dense beds and long-term strategies to use non-chemical options to prevent recolonization. The guidance is intended to help achieve long-term control of the target species and avoid or limit impacts to freshwater wetlands and non-target organisms.

Eurasian watermilfoil can outcompete native plants, including New York State rare, threatened and endangered species resulting in decreased plant diversity and diminished habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms.

Renovate* and Renovate* OTF, are preferred aquatic herbicides for the management of Eurasian watermilfoil because they are low toxicity, highly selective and fast acting. They are approved for use in New York State and primarily target dicot classified plants such as Eurasian watermilfoil. Many native plants including pondweed, elodea, coontail, sedges and grasses are not susceptible to these aquatic herbicides.

The Agency proposed guidance is intended to help direct management of aquatic invasive species in Adirondack water bodies in a manner that avoids or minimizes impacts to freshwater wetlands, non-target native plants and animals.

To review the proposed Guidelines for Appropriate Use of the Aquatic Herbicides Renovate* and Renovate* OTF to Manage Eurasian Watermilfoil, an Aquatic Invasive Plant, please use the following link:

All public comments must be received by November 7, 2013.

Please send comments to:

Leigh Walrath Adirondack Park Agency P.O. Box 99 Ray Brook, NY 12977

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Aquatic Species May be the Cure for Cancer

Despite the fact that there are about 5000 living species, the bryozoa remain largely unknown to most people. Bryozoans, or "moss animals," are aquatic organisms, living for the most part in colonies of interconnected individuals.

The bryozoa species can be found in many different water types ranging from tropical, polar, to freshwater. Considered nuisances by many because they grow on the bottoms of ships, piers and docks, and have even been known to clog water intakes; others look at bryozoa as life savers.

Researchers have found a species of bryozoa off the California coast that produce a mix of chemicals called bryostatin that appears to prevent the growth of tumors in a variety of human cancers, including melanoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and renal cancer.

Still being tested in more than 40 clinical trials in the United States, many cancer patients have shown marked improvement with relatively minor side effects. That is great news from the depth of the waters where the bryozoans often reside, but the downside is that it takes 14 tons of the species to produce less than one ounce of bryostatin.

Learn more here

Article courtesy of Aquarius Systems, North Prairie WI
Makers of fine Weed Harvesters, Trash Hunters, Weed Cutters, and Excavators
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Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Hypoxia Task Force Report Shows Progress, Need to Accelerate Reduction of Nutrient Pollution in Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico

A new report released by the Hypoxia Task Force highlights progress made during the past five years in targeting funds where they are most needed, increasing agricultural conservation practices, developing state nutrient reduction strategies, and improving science and monitoring of water quality in the Mississippi River Basin. The report recommends that the Task Force work to accelerate implementation of nutrient reduction activities and identify ways to measure progress in reducing pollution at a variety of scales, from small streams to the mouth of the Mississippi River. The Task Force has also released a new federal strategy focused primarily on providing support to states as they develop and implement nutrient reduction strategies
“Achieving significant water quality improvements in water bodies as large as the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico takes time, and the increasing impacts of climate change such as more frequent extreme weather events pose additional challenges. The progress we’ve made across the board during the past five years provides an excellent foundation and we will work to accelerate our progress over the next five years,” said Nancy Stoner, acting Assistant Administrator for Water for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and co-chair of the Task Force.

Read this and prior reports at
Source: Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force

First Annual SepticSmart Week was Sept. 23 - 27, 2013

In case you missed it, like we did here, the first annual SepticSmart Week was held by US EPA September 23-27, 2013. So mark your calendars for NEXT YEAR. We share some of the information here, which is always relevant to those on septic systems and encourage shorefront property owners to visit the SepticSmart website and the EPA OnSite Wastewater website.

During the first annual SepticSmart Week, September 23-27, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) encouraged homeowners to get SepticSmart and take action. A few small, simple steps of proper care and maintenance of your septic system can lead to a big pay off in terms of keeping you and your neighbors healthy and protecting the environment. For homeowners, proper care can also prevent costly repairs or replacement of systems, protect property values, and save water.

Each Day EPA reminded homeowners to do the following:

  • Day 1 - September 23: Protect It and Inspect It! Homeowners can save more than $10,000 in repair and replacement costs if they have their septic system inspected at an average cost of $200-350 at least every 3-5 years by a septic service professional. Visit [HERE] to learn more and get SepticSmart.
  • Day 2 - September 24: Think at the sink! Whether you flush down the toilet, grind it in the garbage disposal, or pour it down the sink, shower, or bath...what goes down the drain can have a major impact on how well your septic system works. Visit [HERE] to learn more and get SepticSmart.
  • Day 3 - September 25: Don't overload the commode! Only put things in the drain or toilet that belong there. For example, coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts, and cat litter can all clog and potentially damage septic systems. Visit [HERE] to learn more and get SepticSmart.
  • Day 4 - September 26: Don't strain your drain! Efficient use of water and staggering water can not only improve the operation of your septic system but also reduce the risk of failure as well. Visit [HERE] to learn more and get SepticSmart.
  • Day 5 - September 27: Shield your field! What is placed on or around your drainfield—a component of your septic system that removes contaminants from the liquid that emerges from your septic tank – matters. Visit [HERE] to learn more and get SepticSmart.

The Dos and Don'ts of Your Septic System

SepticSmart Week Flyer 091113 
Click here to download the "Dos and Don'ts" of your Septic System (1 pg, 1.4MB, About PDF).

Source : EPA Water Headlines | EPA SepticSmart website

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

EPA Updates Human Health Benchmarks for Pesticides

EPA has updated its list of human health benchmarks for pesticides. EPA develops the benchmarks for use by states and water systems in determining whether the detection of a pesticide in drinking water or source waters for drinking water may indicate a potential health risk. This year, EPA added 11 new benchmarks to the list, revised 10 of the benchmarks published in 2012 to reflect new scientific information and added cancer effects benchmarks for 40 of the pesticides

Visit EPA's Human Health Issues | Pesticides for more information
or visit EPA's Pesticide Chemical Search for information about specific pesticides
Source: EPA Water Headlines (8/29/2013) & EPA Website

EPA Finalizes Freshwater Criteria for Ammonia

EPA has published final national recommended water quality criteria for the protection of aquatic life from the toxic effects of ammonia in freshwater. The 2013 ammonia criteria reflect new data on sensitive freshwater mussels and snails, incorporate scientific views EPA received on its draft 2009 criteria, and supersede EPA's previously recommended 1999 ammonia criteria. In addition to the criteria document, EPA has also published supporting information to assist states, territories, and authorized tribes considering adoption of the new recommended criteria into their water quality standards. Ammonia is a type of nitrogen pollution and can enter water bodies via municipal wastewater discharges, animal waste runoff, air deposition, and runoff from agricultural lands. When ammonia is present in water at high enough concentrations, aquatic organisms cannot sufficiently excrete it, leading to toxic buildup in their internal tissues and blood, and potentially death.

Visit EPA's Aquatic Life Criteria Site for more information
Source: EPA Water Headlines (8/27/2013)

Friday, July 19, 2013

DOE study: Fracking chemicals didn't taint water

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site, the Department of Energy told The Associated Press.

After a year of monitoring, the researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to free gas trapped deep below the surface stayed thousands of feet below the shallower areas that supply drinking water, geologist Richard Hammack said.

Although the results are preliminary - the study is still ongoing - they are the first independent look at whether the potentially toxic chemicals pose a threat to people during normal drilling operations. But DOE researchers view the study as just one part of ongoing efforts to examine the impacts of a recent boom in oil and gas exploration, not a final answer about the risks.

See link below for rest of article.
Source: AP News

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Shoreline Regs Are About Water Quality

by Peter Bauer

The protection of water quality is of singular great importance for the Adirondack Park and Adirondack communities. In the coming decades, if we are able to maintain stable water quality trends, this will help Adirondack communities enormously, not only for protecting the area’s high quality of life, but economically too. Clean water will be our edge.

Clean water is going to be a commodity that becomes less plentiful in the future. Communities that provide good stewardship for their waters will be communities that have something special to offer in the coming years.

As a society we know how to protect water quality. Engineers, landscape architects, excavators, and regulators, among others, know what protects water quality and what does not. Stormwater management is the key here. All too often though stormwater management is deferred, ignored or short-changed.

Shoreline regulation is not about aesthetics. It’s about protecting water quality.
There are many excellent guides to water quality protection. The FUND for Lake George and Lake George Waterkeeper published Do-It-Yourself Water Quality: A Landowner’s Guide to Property Management that Protects Lake George, but it’s applicable to any freshwater lake, pond, river, stream or wetland. (In the interest of full disclosure I helped write Do-It-Yourself Water Quality.) See other fine water quality protection guidebooks here and here. There are many on the web.

Shoreline buffers are not simply trees and bushes that block out the view of houses from passing boaters. They are very important for water quality because they provide critical ecological services to the lake or pond. Shoreline buffers absorb, infiltrate and block stormwater from reaching and polluting a waterbody.

When stormwater runs overland it picks up speed and volume. The greater the speed and greater the volume of stormwater the more it picks up sediments and other materials, such as chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides, and carries them to the waterbody. Watersheds are like bowls with the lake at the bottom. Everything runs downhill to the lake.

Every time it rains pollutants are carried to lakes and ponds via stormwater. If every property were stormwater neutral this would not happen. Most properties, though, export stormwater because they do not have an adequate infrastructure to capture and infiltrate stormwater. Drywells and rain gardens and swales all work well.
Shoreline buffers are very effective as are different types of pervious pavements. These are all tried and true technologies. Low Impact Development has created a whole school of engineering around stormwater management to protect water quality. But, unfortunately, the house-here, house-there type of development in most communities in the Adirondacks doesn’t see nearly enough done on preventing stormwater pollution.

Maintenance of natural contours and forest cover is important too. Only about 1% of rain that hits a natural forest is carried off in streams. The rest is held by vegetation until it evaporates or slowly infiltrates into the groundwater. One mature tree can hold 20,000 gallons of water. A developed site sees 50% or more of the rain that hits it exported as stormwater runoff.

The amount of impervious area on a lot shapes stormwater runoff too. Buildings, paved driveways and walkways and patios are all impervious structures that create runoff. A typical grass lawn produces significantly more stormwater than a forested site. Gravel driveways are heavily compacted and produce almost as much stormwater as paved driveways.

Stormwater pollution is causing a slow, yet inexorable decline in water quality in the Adirondacks. Our chief regulatory agency is frozen in time, politically unable to modernize its rules or statute. Written in the early 1970s, the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Act does not even include the word stormwater. The Lake George Park Commission has a decent set of stormwater regulations, but it doesn’t apply to modifications of existing structures, which constitutes a lot of development and stormwater problems around the lake.

Stormwater management is all the more important in the era of climate change. One change that we’ve seen is that wet areas are getting wetter and dry areas drier. In the Adirondacks and the Northeast US we’re getting 30% more rain than we did 30 years ago. The way the rain arrives too is different as more rain comes in hard, severe storms than in the past decades. Both trends are predicted to intensify. So, the sooner we get serious about stormwater the better.

Unfortunately, on lake after lake across the Adirondacks new homeowners scrape lands clean. Large houses are built to replace forested lots, lawns flatten natural contours, and impervious materials replace permeable terrain. Lot after lot is transformed from a natural, forested lot that helped to mitigate negative impacts to lake water quality to a lot that will forever export stormwater to the lake and load pollution.

In many cases it’s simply a choice of individual landowners. They can manage their lands in a way that minimizes or supersizes stormwater pollution. It’s better to minimize. Below is a good illustration of the choices of a landowner.

One commentator on Adirondack Park affairs does a real disservice to the public by dismissing calls to improve regulation of shoreline development as simply something about aesthetics. This opinion has it that it’s all about greenies being offended by houses as opposed to legitimate concerns about the protection of natural resources.

Thankfully, some local governments, like the Town of Queensbury, have acted boldly to protect water quality. Queensbury has what I consider a model zoning code for water quality protection.

Queensbury takes stormwater seriously. Any new or modified property in the shoreline zone must create a vegetated buffer. They tell you how many native plants, shrubs and trees are required per linear foot of buffer and how wide the buffer needs to be. They require a variety of stormwater control devices to be installed to capture and infiltrate stormwater so as to prevent it from reaching the lake.

No longer can a massive building be built on a small lot. Queensbury employs a floor-area ratio that sets a minimum percent of a lot that must be kept in pervious conditions. For years people built huge buildings on small lots with little consideration where stormwater would go.

As a society we know how to manage stormwater. We know how to prevent stormwater pollution. We know how to protect water quality and natural resources. We just choose not to.

It would be a great thing if the APA adopted the Queensbury code. That would go a long ways towards terrific stewardship for Adirondack waters.

Clean waters will help the Adirondack Park immeasurably in the decades ahead. It makes good sense for many reasons for Adirondack communities to do everything we can to protect water quality.
Source: Peter Bauer, Protect the Adirondacks in Adirondack Almanack

Illustrations courtesy the FUND for Lake George.

Peter Bauer is the Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks.

He has been working in various capacities on Adirondack Park environmental issues since the mid-1980s, including stints as the Executive Director of the Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and FUND for Lake George as well as on the staff of the Commission on the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century and Adirondack Life Magazine.

He's also a reformed banker and enjoys a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities throughout the Adirondacks.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Cover for my new Adirondack Natural History book

NY DEC Five Rivers Environmental Education Center

Five Rivers Environmental Education Center is a living museum comprising over 450 acres of broad fields, towering forests, and tranquil wetlands. Five Rivers offers people of all ages a rich variety of guided and self-guided opportunities to encounter nature directly. Stimulating interpretive programs and guided school lessons promote awareness, knowledge and appreciation of New York State's environment year 'round. With over 10 miles of trails for self-guided exploration, Five Rivers fosters discovery, spiritual refreshment and physical fitness through wholesome outdoor>
During the heat of midday, enjoy a relaxing picnic in the shade, or visit the air-conditioned education building with its dozens of intriguing exhibits, including several live animals that can't be returned to the wild.

Wildlife to Watch for:
  • Great place for birdwatching: 225 species, no waiting! 
  •  Excellent chance for deer, squirrels and bluebirds, even in winter! 
  • Spring and fall migrations are definitely worth a gander! 
  • In summer, expect to also encounter turtles, geese, frogs and grassland bird specialties
  •  "Best Park For Nature" - Metroland, 2008

More about Five Rivers Environmental Education Center:


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

EPA Sponsoring Webcast Series to Raise Awareness about Harmful Algal Blooms and Nutrient Pollution

On June 25, 2013, EPA's Watershed Academy will sponsor a free webcast on harmful algal blooms (HABs) and their Impacts in freshwater and marine ecosystems,the first in a series of webinars about this worsening environmental problem and public health threat. Jennifer Graham with the United States Geological Survey and Quay Dortch with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will start the series with an introduction to HABs, their causes, and their impacts, and EPA HAB expert Mario Sengco will moderate. This webcast series is a part of a broader outreach effort this summer that will aim to focus public attention on HABs, which can sicken people and pets, devastate aquatic ecosystems, and harm the economy. To register, visit
Source: Water Headlines 

EPA Report Details How Development Can Impact Public Health, Environment

EPA has released its most comprehensive review to date on how the built environment - the way we build our cities and towns - directly affects our environment and public health. The publication, Our Built and Natural Environments: A Technical Review of the Interactions among Land Use, Transportation, and Environmental Quality, provides evidence that certain kinds of land use and transportation strategies -- where and how we build our communities -- can reduce the environmental and human health impacts of development. According to the report, environmental impacts linked to building and development patterns include at least 850,000 acres of lakes, reservoirs, and ponds and 50,000 miles of rivers, and streams that are thought to be impaired by stormwater runoff. For more information about the report and an upcoming webinar, visit:

Download the report, The second edition of Our Built and Natural Environments (PDF) (148 pp, 4.3MB). To order a hard copy of the report, email or call 800-490-9198 and request EPA 231-K-13-001.

Join a webinar on Our Built and Natural Environments Wednesday, July 24, 2:00 - 3:00 Eastern. _____________________________________
Source: Water Headlines

Friday, June 14, 2013

Adirondack Invasive Species Awareness Week

July 7th – 13th is Adirondack Invasive Species Awareness Week.

Check out the line-up of events online at

If you have an activity planned, contact Billy Martin at by Friday, June 21st.
Source: Hilary Smith
Director, Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program
The Nature Conservancy – Adirondack Chapter
PO Box 65
Keene Valley, NY 12943
518-576-2082 (tel)
518-576-4203 (fax)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lake Managers Get New Tool To Combat Algae

Northwest Public Radio

By Tom Banse

Nothing spoils a summer swim in your favorite lake like an algae bloom. These become more common as the weather warms up. Earlier this week, aquatic biologists treated a lake near Seattle with a new product to prevent toxic blooms.

Most every summer until last summer, Lake Lorene would turn pea soup green.

"I was really disappointed come July, August when I noticed all the algae, and ultimately the blue-green algae and the stench associated with that," Greg Darcey says. "Then the toxicity, the (warning) signs. It was ugly.”

Darcey serves on the Twin Lakes Homeowner's Association board. Last year, the homeowners group gambled on a new approach to restore water quality at the lake in suburban Federal Way, Wash.

“It’s night and day. No blue-green algae this year," Darcey says. "Clarity was amazing. We had people fishing again, which we didn’t before, and you could actually start enjoying the lake.”

Darcey and his neighbors are the first in the Northwest to hire a company to apply a new algae treatment. The problem here is similar to so many other built up lakes. Stormwater, goose poop, fertilizer runoff, all carry phosphorus into the lake. That dissolved phosphorus is the key nutrient for algae growth. Left unchecked, blue-green algae can turn toxic. It can make people sick and kill pets and livestock.

Earlier this week, aquatic biologists treated the lake with a new product to prevent toxic blooms. A three man crew in a small work boat crisscrossed the lake and a brownish plume spreads out behind the boat's stern.

AquaTechnex aquatic biologist Adam Kleven explained that the crew injected the eight acre lake with a follow up dose of the new mineral treatment, called Phoslock. He says the slurry is a combination of the element lanthanum and powdered clay.

“What this product does is drift through the water column, binding with the phosphorus and permanently locking it down in towards the sediment," Kleven says.

Nigel Traill of Phoslock Water Solutions says the treatment was invented in Australia in the mid-1990's. His company exported it first to Europe, found success there, and now is coming to North America.

"Phoslock is a more natural product with less negative effects on the ecosystem than aluminum sulfate (a current, cheaper way to tie up phosphorus)," Traill says. "So in that respect, the U.S. provides good possibilities, I think, for Phoslock."

Traill's company points to a list of studies that show their product doesn't hurt fish or contaminate drinking water.

It is expensive, which could limit sales. Terry McNabb of Bellingham runs the lake management company AquaTechnex. McNabb gave a price range of $1,900 to $4,000 per surface acre treated. The two Phoslock injections at Lake Lorene cost the homeowners association there around $40,000, which includes some ancillary permitting and monitoring fees.

McNabb calls Phoslock an "important expansion" of the tools available to control algae.

"I think people are in the learning curve," McNabb says. "They want to see examples. The database is building. So I kind of see this in the next few years as really being a tool that is more widely used and widely understood and maybe even gets to be the 'go to' thing for solving this problem."

McNabb says the new lake treatment is cleared for use in California and Idaho. He's still waiting to hear from Oregon.

Washington’s Department of Ecology is keeping Phoslock on an experimental permit. It’s watching for any negative effects. An agency spokesperson says the state would rather people living around lakes take measures to contain sources of phosphorus on land. That way they wouldn't have to put any chemicals in the water in the first place.
Source: Northwest Public Radio

The unexpected consequences of fighting Eurasian Watermilfoil

Lake on the Brink: The unexpected consequences of fighting Eurasian Watermilfoil, preventing fish from successfully reproducing?

By Eric Engbretson

In 2012, Greg Matzke, a fisheries biologist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, made a startling discovery on Florence County’s Lake Ellwood. During a comprehensive fish survey which included spring, summer and fall netting and electrofishing surveys, Matzke discovered that all of the lake’s largemouth bass were older than 5 years of age, with approximately 91% of the largemouth bass population being at least seven years old. The absence of younger fish indicated a recruitment failure for a number of years. Such failures in largemouth bass recruitment over multiple years are unprecedented in the state of Wisconsin.
“The current largemouth bass population is in serious trouble,” Matzke reported. “It appears that natural reproduction of largemouth bass has not occurred since 2007. As these older/larger fish move through the population, a significant reduction in largemouth bass abundance will take place, with the potential for the complete loss of this species of fish unless the current situation changes.”

Matzke next began looking at the lake’s panfish population. What he found was stunning. Overall, the lake’s panfish abundance had fallen an estimated 75% in just the last 10 years, with bluegill and rock bass abundance down an estimated 65% and 89% respectively, showing that these populations also appear to be collapsing. Intense sampling throughout 2012 found only a single black crappie under six years of age, showing another alarming recruitment failure in several consecutive years. When Matzke analyzed the ages of Lake Ellwood’s northern pike population, the results were even more disappointing: There were no pike under the age of eight!

Matzke stared at the data he had collected. His department had never seen a mystery like the absolute and complete recruitment failures of native northern pike, black crappie, and largemouth bass (along with significant reductions in recruitment of other panfish populations). He shared his findings with other fisheries professionals across the state and they all said the same thing. They had never seen a collapse like this in their careers. Matzke and his team scrambled to collect more data and tried to find a cause that could have brought the fish to the brink of extirpation in Lake Ellwood. Surveys from 2002 had shown normal abundance, size structure, growth, and recruitment in all of these species. What had happened in the last ten years that was preventing fish from successfully reproducing? The only thriving species of game fish in the lake were smallmouth bass. Their abundance and size structure had grown in the last decade and recruitment was high. This suggested that the problem was targeting specific species of fish. Because Lake Ellwood’s smallmouth bass were doing so well while the other species were collapsing, the focus turned to the lake’s historically sparse but important aquatic plant community. All the species showing recruitment failures are highly dependent on aquatic vegetation for spawning as well as cover and food for their young. Matzke observed that smallmouth bass seem to be different. “The fact that this species was not affected by the reduction in plant life,” he said, “is not a major surprise since as a species smallmouth bass are less dependent on aquatic vegetation.”

The Smoking Gun

Eurasian Water Milfoil was discovered in Lake Ellwood in 2002. Herbicide treatments began in 2003 and increased every year. By 2007 recruitment of northern pike, largemouth bass and black crappie had come to an end. “When I started to analyze the data it was strikingly obvious to me that there are some problems associated with the herbicide”, said Matzke. When he graphed the fish abundance (by year class) over the last decade and overlaid it with a graph showing yearly herbicide treatments, he found what he believed was a critical connection. Fish numbers fell as the amount of herbicide increased. Interestingly, in the year following a relatively low application of herbicide, young bluegill (and black crappie to a much smaller degree) began to appear again, but their numbers are still very low and they will likely disappear before they reach age 2.

Year class strength, indexed using age estimation to determine number of individuals of each year class captured during a 2012 comprehensive survey, for northern pike, black crappie, largemouth bass and bluegill plotted against the number of pounds of 2,4-D (not acid equivalent) used to treat aquatic plants in Lake Ellwood, Florence County, 2003-2012.
“We still wonder which stage of reproduction has failed in these species”, says Matzke. “Aquatic vegetation plays a major role in spawning site selection and in the survival of eggs and fry. Plants are also the source of primary production providing food and habitat for young fish and prey items, including invertebrates and minnows. It seems likely that one or all of these important phases of reproduction are dwindling in Lake Ellwood.”

On April 17, 2013 Matzke met with the Lake Ellwood Association to reveal his data and conclusions. He told the group, “The main cause for failed northern pike, largemouth bass and black crappie recruitment (along with the massive reduction in panfish abundance) appears to be the loss of aquatic vegetation.” The 2-4-D herbicide used on Eurasian watermilfoil had been successful in reducing the abundance of this invasive species significantly. Conversely, other native plants were also harmed by years of chemical treatment. Matzke said he has no reason to believe the chemicals have directly caused a failure in reproduction of any species of fish in Lake Ellwood. However, Matzke does believe that the chemicals have indirectly caused recruitment failure by eliminating too many of the aquatic plants young fish need in order to survive. Matzke has called for a change in the way the Lake Ellwood Association has been managing the lakes aquatic plants. He recommended that further chemical treatments for milfoil be stopped.

“First and foremost,” says Matzke, “we need to promote and strengthen aquatic vegetation in Lake Ellwood.” 

He stresses the role of aquatic vegetation in spawning and concludes that the loss of vegetation (including the invasive milfoil) has almost certainly wiped out a great deal of forage for young fish.

It seems that milfoil treatments controlled the invasive plant but also jeopardized the health of the lakes fishery. Today the lake contains a dwindling and rapidly aging population of largemouth bass, black crappie, northern pike, and bluegill. Matzke hopes the plants will come back in time for the remaining old fish to produce at least one year class before they die. If that doesn’t happen, many fish populations will likely be extirpated from Lake Ellwood. New fish can be stocked, of course, but the lake would lose the unique genetic lineage of the fish that have lived there for thousands of years.

The Future

Could chemical herbicide treatments for Eurasian watermilfoil be reducing fish recruitment in other lakes? None of the other lakes that have been receiving chemical treatments have had their fish populations surveyed this intensely. Large scale recruitment problems due to loss of important plant cover could be taking place throughout the region where the invasive plant is now being fought. There is no way to know if this is happening, and frankly, up until now, there has been no reason to find out. Fisheries experts around the state are only now learning of Matzke’s findings on Lake Ellwood. In the future, they will likely start paying more attention to fish recruitment on lakes treated for Eurasian watermilfoil which would allow the Department of Natural Resources to determine whether this crisis is an isolated instance or a more widespread problem.

In the meantime, it’s a race against time for Lake Ellwood’s native fish. The question remains: Will the plants come back in time to save these fish populations?
Source: StructureSpot

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Adirondack Aquatic Invasive Plant Identification Training Announced: Volunteers Needed

Aquatic Invasive Plant Identification Training Announced: Volunteers Needed

Meghan Johnstone
APIPP Aquatic Invasive Species Project Coordinator
518-576-2082 x 119 or

For Immediate Release:
Aquatic Invasive Plant Identification Training Announced: Volunteers Needed

KEENE VALLEY The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) will host its annual volunteer training sessions in aquatic invasive plant identification and survey techniques on June 20th at the Darrin Fresh Water Institute in Bolton Landing, June 25th at Paul Smith’s College, and June 27th at the Raquette Lake School. All sessions are from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. and are free and open to the public, but space is limited. Please RSVP by June 13th to Meghan Johnstone at 518-576-2082 x 119 or Returning volunteers, new volunteers, or individuals simply interested in learning about aquatic plants are encouraged to attend.

Aquatic enthusiasts can help protect the Adirondack region from invasive species. Hundreds of citizens in the Adirondack region keep watchful eyes for new aquatic invasive species infestations which can lead to quick removal. To-date, nearly 600 citizens volunteered over 6,500 hours to survey 300 waterbodies. Their vigilance each year in APIPP’s early detection program, now in its twelfth year, has established a baseline to better understand the distribution of infected waters.

Armed with this information, organizations and communities take prescriptive prevention and management actions, such as having stewards at boat launches to inspect watercraft for attached plant fragments or starting control programs to remove invading plants.

At least 88 Adirondack lakes and ponds are infested with aquatic invasive plants, like Eurasian watermilfoil and water chestnut, and aquatic invasive animals, like spiny waterflea and Asian clam. Hydrilla, an aquatic invasive plant relatively new to New York State but not yet detected in the Adirondacks, may be on the move this summer. Plant fragments are easily spread from lake to lake by “hitchhiking” on boats, gear, and trailers. Fragments can start new infestations that clog waterways, degrade recreational opportunities, and push out native plants.

Luckily, as the boating season begins, volunteers help survey lakes and ponds to search for these non-native invasive plants. The number of “invasive-free” lakes surveyed by APIPP volunteers and partner staff is more than two times that of infested lakes. A real opportunity exists in the Adirondacks to protect widespread degradation by aquatic invasive species.

The APIPP is a partnership program among governmental and nongovernmental organizations that is housed by the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Learn more about APIPP online at and follow APIPP’s activity blog at

Friday, May 24, 2013

U.S. Can Grow Copious Amounts of Pond Scum for Fuel

Wed, 05/22/2013 - 7:00am Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

An algae bloom in North Carolina, a region of the country equipped for broad-scale algae growth. A new analysis shows that the nation's land and water resources could likely support the growth of enough algae to produce up to 25 billion gallons of algae-based fuel a year, one-twelfth of the country's yearly needs.

The findings come from an in-depth look at the water resources that would be needed to grow significant amounts of algae in large, specially built shallow ponds. The results were published in Environmental Science and Technology.

"While there are many details still to be worked out, we don't see water issues as a deal breaker for the development of an algae biofuels industry in many areas of the country," says first author Erik Venteris of the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

For the best places to produce algae for fuel, think hot, humid and wet. Especially promising are the Gulf Coast and the Southeastern seaboard.

"The Gulf Coast offers a good combination of warm temperatures, low evaporation, access to an abundance of water and plenty of fuel-processing facilities," says hydrologist Mark Wigmosta, the leader of the team that did the analysis.

Wooing algae as fuel

Algae, it turns out, are plump with oil, and several research teams and companies are pursuing ways to improve the creation of biofuels based on algae — growing algae composed of more oil, creating algae that live longer and thrive in cooler temperatures, or devising new ways to separate out the useful oil from the rest of the algae.

But first, simply, the algae must grow. The chief requirements are sunlight and water. Antagonists include clouds, a shortage of water and evaporation. A previous report by the same team looked mainly at how much demand algae farms would create for freshwater. That report demonstrated that oil based on algae have the potential to replace a significant portion of the nation's oil imports and drew the attention of President Obama.

The new report focuses on actual water supplies and looks at a range of possible sources of water, including fresh groundwater, salty or saline groundwater, and seawater. The team estimates that up to 25 billion gallons of algal oil could be produced annually, an increase of four billion gallons over the previous study's estimate. The new amount is enough to fill the nation's current oil needs for one month — about 600 million barrels — each year. The study's authors note that the new estimate is exactly that — an estimate — based to some degree on assumptions about land and water availability and use.

"I'm confident that algal biofuels can be part of the solution to our energy needs, but algal biofuels certainly aren't the whole solution," says Wigmosta. Most important, he notes that the cost of making the fuel far exceeds the cost of traditional gasoline-based products right now.

Big ponds, big potential

An algae farm would likely consist of many ponds, with water maybe six to 15 inches deep. A few companies have built smaller algae farms and are just beginning to churn out huge amounts of algae to convert to fuel; earlier this year, one company sold algae-based oil to customers in California. Players in the algae biofuels arena range from Exxon-Mobil, which launched a $600 million research effort four years ago, to this year's teenage winner of the Intel Science Talent Search, who was recognized for her work developing algae that produce more oil than they normally do.

The availability of water has been one of the biggest concerns regarding the adoption of broad-scale production of algal biofuel. Scientists estimate that fuel created with algae would use much more water than industrial processes used to harness energy from oil, wind, sunlight, or most other forms of raw energy. To produce 25 billion gallons of algae oil, the team estimates that the process annually would require the equivalent of about one-quarter of the amount of water that is now used each year in the entire U.S. for agriculture. While that is a huge amount, the team notes that the water would come from a multitude of sources: fresh groundwater, salty groundwater and seawater.

For its analysis, the team limited the amount of freshwater that could be drawn in any one area, assuming that no more than five percent of a given watershed's mean annual water flow could be used in algae production. That number is a starting point, says Venteris, who notes that it's the same percentage that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows power plants to use for cooling.

"In arid areas such as the Desert Southwest, five percent is probably an overstatement of the amount of water available, but in many other areas that are a lot wetter, such as much of the East, it's likely that much more water would be available," says Venteris.

"While the nation's Desert Southwest has been considered a possible site for vast algae growth using saline water, rapid evaporation in this region make success there more challenging for low- cost production," Venteris adds.

Venteris and colleagues weighed the pluses and minuses of the various water sources. They note that freshwater is cheap but in very limited supply in many areas. Saline groundwater is attractive because it's widely available but usually at a much deeper depth, requiring more equipment and technology to pump it to the surface and make it suitable for algae production. Seawater is plentiful, but would require much more infrastructure, most notably the creation of pipelines to move the water from the coast to processing plants.

The team notes that special circumstances, such as particularly tight water restrictions in some areas or severe drought or above-average rainfall in others, could affect its estimates of water availability. _______________________________
Ed. Note: We certainly have a propensity for turning lakes and ponds green without even trying. Wouldn't it be nice to turn the tails on nuisance algae and produce something useful?

Thanks to Diane Rush of Hampshire Controls for the submission.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Spring Peepers

At night, the strident call of Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer), the ducklike clacking of Wood Frogs (Rana sylvatica), and the short trill of Grey Tree Frogs (Hyla versicolor), fill the air around every bog and wet place. Later in the summer, these tiny amphibians are sometimes found while walking in the woods and fields, mistakenly called baby frogs by the young children who can’t resist picking them up to show to their parents. At maturity, the tiny, brown Spring Peeper is just 3/4 - 1 1/4 inches in size. The nocturnal Spring Peeper is found in wooded areas in or near permanent or temporarily flooded ponds and swamps and hibernates under logs and loose bark. The Grey Tree Frog is 1 1/4 - 2 inches. The nocturnal Grey Tree Frog lives high in trees and descend only at night, usually just to chorus and to breed. The Wood Frog, brown with a bandit's mask of black behind its eyes, is only slightly larger at 1 3/8 - 2 3/4 inches. In the colder parts of its range, the Wood Frog is an explosive breeder. Swarms of pairs lay fertilized eggs within 1 or 2 days, then disappear into the surrounding country. It may venture far from water during summer, and hibernates in forest debris during winter. The Spring Peeper, a Chorus Frog, and the Grey Tree Frogs are members of the Tree Frog Family (Hylidae), while the Wood Frog is a member of the True Frog Family (Ranidae) and closely related to the familiar Leopard Frog.
Source: an excerpt from "A Few Summer Days in the Adirondacks:
A Natural History of the Adirondack Park
" by Michael R. Martin

Sunday, March 10, 2013

World's First Algae-Powered Building Opens This Month in Germany

Splitterwerk Architects have designed an algae powered building, dubbed BIQ, which will be the very first of its kind. Covered with a bio-adaptive façade of microalgae, the distinctive building has been designed for the International Building Exhibition in Hamburg and is slated to open this month.

To create the algae façade, the building is covered in bio-reactive louvers that enclose the algae. These louvers allow the algae to survive and grow faster than they would otherwise while also providing shade for the interior of the building. Additionally, the bio-reactors trap the heat energy created by the algae, which can then be harvested and used to power the building. Once the building is completed, it will be evaluated by scientists and engineers to allow for future research and adaptation for future building projects.

Read more: World's First Algae-Powered Building by Splitterwerk Architects Opens This Month in Germany | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

Source: Kristine Lofgren, Inhabitat

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Biologists fear 'giant' goldfish will alter Lake Tahoe

Emerson Marcus, Reno Gazette-Journal
6:19p.m. EST February 21, 2013

RENO -- Biologists are worried that Lake Tahoe's pristine blue water may be affected by a "giant" visitor.

Goldfish have inhabited the water of the Tahoe Keys since the 1990s, said Sudeep Chandra, a biologist at the University of Nevada, Reno.

But it wasn't until 2011 that biologists found a 14.2 inch, 3.4 pound goldfish in the lake. More "giant" goldfish have been found since, he said.

It is not entirely known how the goldfish are being introduced to Lake Tahoe. Chandra said he thinks people who have goldfish as pets are disposing of them in the lake.

According to the U.S. Forest Service's Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, warm-water fish, which include goldfish, have been seen in the lake over the last decade. The invasion of these warm species can be detrimental to the ecology within the lake.

Rest of article
Source: USA Today

Location:Lake Tahoe, Reno, Nevada

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

European Algae Biomass 2013

European Algae Biomass conference to be held April 24-25 in Vienna, Austria

Visit CEE-Algae blog for complete details

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

EPA Releases National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change

EPA has released the "National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change," which describes how EPA's water-related programs plan to address the impacts of climate change and provides long-term visions, goals and strategic actions for the management of sustainable water resources for future generations. The strategy, which builds upon EPA's first climate change and water strategy released in 2008, focuses on five key areas: infrastructure, watersheds and wetlands, coastal and ocean waters, water quality, and working with Tribes. It emphasizes working collaboratively with partners and stakeholders, developing information and tools, incorporating adaptation into core programs, and managing risks of impacts including from extreme weather events. The 2012 strategy also includes goals and strategic actions for EPA in 10 geographic climate regions.

For more information, please visit
Source: Water Headlines

Webinar on New Recreational Criteria to Better Protect Public Health Set for January 30

Join EPA for a free Watershed Academy webinar to learn about EPA's new recreational water quality criteria on January 30, 2013, 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. EST. EPA recently recommended new recreational water quality criteria for states that will help protect peoples' health during visits to beaches and other recreational waters year-round. The science-based criteria provide information to help states improve public health protection by providing similarly protective recommendations for both marine and fresh waters, encouraging early alerts to beachgoers and promoting rapid water testing. The new criteria do not impose any new requirements; instead, they are a tool that states can choose to use in setting their own standards. Visit to register for this webinar and to view the webcast presentation which will be posted in advance. Webcast participants are eligible to receive a certificate for their attendance.
Source: Water Headlines

Climate Ready Water Utilities Webinar Series to Begin on January 23

On January 23, EPA's Climate Ready Water Utilities (CRWU) initiative will begin a new series of webinars on its tools and resources to help drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities understand and adapt to the impacts of climate change. These webinars will assist the water sector in developing a better understanding of climate change, managing impacts, and creating adaptation strategies. Climate Ready Water Utillities' resources promote a clear understanding of climate science and adaptation options, by translating complex climate projections into understandable, actionable and localized information for the water sector. Webinar topics include climate change readiness and an introduction to climate science for the water sector, followed by more in depth discussions on CRWU topics, such as planning a workshop on extreme weather events and the Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool. For more information, visit the "training tab" on, or email questions to
Source: Water Headlines

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Rain Garden iPhone App

UConn Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) has developed a Rain Garden smart phone app that is now available for download from iTunes.

The app is targeted to homeowners and contractors, and leads the user through the proper siting, sizing, construction, planting and maintenance of a rain garden. It includes nifty tools to help the user figure out the proper size of the garden, find out about local soil conditions, get a handle on the price of construction, and customize a plant list that will delight the eye while soaking up stormwater. In addition, there are 6 short video segments explaining various aspects of rain garden care and feeding.

The app is only for iPhones at the moment, but they say they will have an Android version out soon. Also, the imagery and plants are specific to CT, but they are starting work on a national version that will have extensive databases for each area of the country.

For more information, go to the App's info page on the iTunes store or on the NEMO website

To learn more about Rain Gardens visit the NEMO Rain Garden Website.

Source:  David Dickson 
National NEMO Coordinator & Extension Educator 
Center for Land use Education And Research (CLEAR) 
UConn College of Ag & Natural Resources 
Department of Extension 
P.O. Box 70 
Haddam, CT 06438 
(860) 345-5228