Friday, May 31, 2013

The impact of water quality on herbicide performance

See full article, published in the Public Works Magazine HERE.

The impact of water quality on herbicide performance: The better the water quality in a spray tank, the better herbicides will perform
By Debbie Coakley 
Public Works Magazine - 
Original Publication date: May 22, 2013

 Water, water everywhere — but know what's in it to be sure it's suitable for herbicide applications. By testing the water you're mixing in your spray tanks and knowing how to solve water quality problems, you can help ensure products perform as promised and deliver the expected results.
"Water usually comprises 95 percent or more of the spray solution," says Norm Wagoner, business development specialist for Agrilead Inc., based in Alleman, Iowa. "The quality of the water used for spraying — whether from a pond or a spigot in town — can affect how herbicides perform. Just because the water looks good doesn't mean its quality is suitable for your application."...

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Awards given out in Illinois as part of Invasive Species Awareness Month

May 30, 2013 – article by, 618-435-8138 x131
photos by John Wilker, IDNR
2012 ISAM Awards
The Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month Committee would like to recognize the recipients of the 2012 ISAM Awards, for their outstanding contributions to the prevention, control, and management of invasive species in the state of Illinois.  Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month (ISAM) started in 2010 as a means of coordinating events across the state to increase the public’s awareness and knowledge about invasive species in Illinois.  This year, over 80 events are being held across the state as part of ISAM.  In 2011, the ISAM committee decided to initiate an awards program to formally recognize and honor excellence in invasive species work in Illinois.  Recipients in three categories (Professional, Professional Organization, and Volunteer) were officially recognized in May of 2012.

For 2012, two additional categories are being added: Business and Special Recognition Project. Like the previous award categories the Business award goes to one person or group.  However, the Special Recognition Project category can be given to multiple projects.  Recipients of the 2012 ISAM awards were officially recognized at an event in Springfield on May 29, 2013 at 1pm at the IDNR office.  IDNR Office of Resource Conservation Director Jim Herkert was on hand to present the awards.

2012 ISAM Award Winners
 L to R Cindy Kellogg (representing Frederick Law Olmsted Society), Connor Shaw  (representing Possibility Place Nursery), Glenn Seeber (representing Shawnee RC&D), and Alice Brandon.  Jim Herkert (far right) from IDNR presented the awards
This year’s recipients are:

Professional of the Year – Alice Brandon, Friends of the Forest Preserves

Alice is receiving this award for her leadership in the development and operation of the Calumet Conservation Corps.  This is an innovative program that utilizes local youth through involvement in the Student Conservation Association to control invasive species in remnant natural areas within the Southern Lake Michigan Watershed.  Not only does this project benefit the region through controlling invasive species, but it also provides the crew members with valuable work skills.  “Alice’s hard work and innovative thinking has led this program to thrive and it can serve as a model for other regions”, says Chris Evans, Illinois Invasive Species Campaign Coordinator, “This type of out of the box thinking is what we need to address the big problem of invasive species in Illinois.”

Professional Organization of the Year – Shawnee Resource Conservation and Development Area, Inc.

The Shawnee RC&D is receiving this award for their leadership in invasive species work in Illinois and their support of the River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area, the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, and Invasive Species Awareness Month.  The Shawnee RC&D partnered with 11 other agencies and organizations to form the River to River CWMA and took on a leadership role within the partnership by serving as the fiscal manager and housing the CWMA coordinator.  The RC&D’s support of the CWMA has been crucial to its success.  In addition, the RC&D is supporting efforts to implement the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan through housing the Invasive Species Campaign coordinator and the Southern Illinois Conservation opportunity Area coordinator. 

“The Shawnee RC&D, despite being a small local non-profit, has played a major role in regional and now, state-wide coordination of invasive species issues”, says Jody Shimp, regional administrator for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, “This organization has been committed to managing large grants and staff dedicated to addressing the many challenges that invasive species pose to our lands. “

Volunteer of the Year – Frederick Law Olmsted Society

The Frederick Law Olmsted Society of Riverside is receiving this award for their leadership in invasive species education and management within the Riverside, Illinois region.  The FLOS society has organized workdays to remove invasive species and plant natives through the natural lands of Riverside, involving hundreds of volunteers donating countless hours towards these important stewardship activities.  In addition, the FLOS trained volunteers in prescribed fire techniques and took the lead in donations and fund raising for stewardship.  Their efforts helped increase the awareness within the community and the quality of land stewardship with the Riverside Region.

Business of the Year – Possibility Place Nursery

Possibility Place Nursery, owned and operated by Connor Shaw, is receiving this award for their leadership in conservation through their efforts to provide access to and raise awareness about native plants within the region.  Landscaping and horticulture are major pathways for the spread of invasive species and promoting native plants not only reduces this pathway, but also provides better habitat for native wildlife and garners appreciation of native species within the public.  “Mr. Shaw has been on the forefront of the movement to use locally grown plants that are already adapted to the northern Illinois region and has helped make many regional restoration projects a success.” says Cathy McGlynn, Coordinator of the Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership.

Debbie Maurer, Assistant Manager of Natural Resources for the Lake County Forest Preserve District, adds "Connor is a true pleasure to work with.  His knowledge of the propagation of our native trees and shrubs is an outstanding resource to the region and his passion for native plants and restoration is genuine and contagious. I always look forward to asking him questions or bouncing ideas off him when our paths cross.  Connor's success is a result of not only his professional knowledge and drive to produce high quality plant material, but in his sincere kindness, ever-present humor, and life-long curiosity of nature."

Special Recognition Projects

This year four projects were chosen as recipients for Special Recognition.

Representatives from the four projects receiving special recognition received certificates during the ceremony
Conservation@Home - The Conservation@Home project, administered by Conserve Lake County, is receiving this recognition for the project’s accomplishments in educating and assisting private landowners in Lake County on invasive species identification and control.  The vast majority of Illinois’ natural lands are in private ownership and these lands are crucial to conservation.  Conserve Lake County’s approach to assisting private landowners through Conservation@Home is an effective project to engage and assist landowners in Northeast Illinois.

Garlic Mustard School Competitions - The Garlic Mustard School Competitions project, administered by Green Earth Inc., is receiving this recognition for the project’s accomplishments in educating school children within the Carbondale area about the threat of invasive species and providing a venue for these children to contribute to local conservation. Through the competition school children learn about invasive species from presentations by biologists visiting their schools and visits to local Green Earth Property to help control Garlic Mustard and compete with other classes to see which group can pull the most.

"Green Earth provides valuable opportunities for the citizens of Carbondale to interact with and learn about nature.  One of Green Earth’s most influential and fun educational events is the annual Garlic Mustard Challenge program for local school groups,” says Karla Gage, coordinator of the River to River Cooperative Weed Management Area, “Children are our future land stewards, and it is particularly important for them to be able to identify invasive species and understand why invasives are harmful.  The site where the event is held has a rich diversity of spring ephemeral native plants, further helping to show the children what plants do and do not belong in our native ecosystem – and the potential consequences of invasive species."

1st Detector’s Training Program - The 1st Detector’s Training Program, administered by the University of Illinois and the Illinois CAPS program, is receiving this recognition for their accomplishments in statewide education for forest invasive species and development of an early detection program for new forest invaders.  Early detection of new invasive species allows for natural resource managers to respond quickly and control, contain, or eradicate new populations before they are widespread and damaging.  “The 1st Detector’s Training Program is one of the most effective statewide Early Detection Programs I’ve seen implemented” says Chris Evans, “This project was much needed and positions Illinois to be better able to address any new forest invasives that may sneak into our state.”

Calumet Conservation Corps - The Calumet Conservation Corps project, administered by the Friends of the Forest Preserves, is receiving this recognition because of the project’s efforts to restore natural areas in the Calumet region: Eggers Woods, Beaubien Woods, Dolton Prairie, and Kickapoo.  The Corps consists of five members from diverse communities in Calumet : Brian Mann, Brenda Elmore, Tyrone Mudro, Jessica Rosenthal, and Xochitl Lopez.  They have controlled 60 acres of woody invasive plants and detected and eradicated another 228 acres of invasive plants that are new to the Chicago region.  

“We’d like to thank the program for providing communities in the Calumet region with new opportunities to spend time outdoors as well as giving native plants and animals a second chance to use their native habitats.”, says Cathy McGlynn.

For more information on invasive species in Illinois or Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month, be sure to check out the ISAM website at

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Officials caution boaters about debris, invasive species

Officials caution boaters about debris, invasive species
by Emily Coleman

Originally published in the Northwest Herald, see Original article HERE.

A turtle sunned itself on a tire Friday morning as Thor Forsberg of Barrington pulled his 1973 Trojan F25 away from the dock.

The tire was one of the few remaining remnants of flood debris that littered the Fox River. A few broken piers, uplifted trees and demolished duck blinds dotted the river’s edge.

Most of the large debris has been cleared out of the water, Fox Waterway Agency Executive Director Ron Barker said. The agency and volunteers have been cleaning up since the April flood.

“There were pieces of dock and even some boats that had drifted loose that were floating around out there,” he said.

The debris restriction has been lifted, which means conditions are safe for the average boater.

“So long as they keep their eyes peeled and watch where they’re going, they should be fine,” Barker said. “If we didn’t feel that way, we wouldn’t have it open.”

But despite the reopening – and the start of a holiday weekend – only a few boaters were out Friday morning on the southern branch of the Fox, a lot fewer than in previous years, Forsberg said.

Thor and his wife, Lisa, have two young boys, Luke and Lars, 4 and 7, so they typically avoid the water over the crowded holiday weekend.

He thinks others might not head out because of the cool weather and overcast skies forecast for the weekend, as well as lingering concerns over high gas prices and the economy.

Some waterfront businesses are still feeling the effects of the flooding, including the marina Forsberg uses.

Port Barrington Motorsports Marina was “pretty much an island” with 18 inches of water behind the building, said Dave Wescott Jr., the marina’s parts manager who co-owns the marina with his father, David Wescott Sr.

The building wasn’t damaged thanks to sandbags around the shop, but a lack of access put them three weeks behind schedule in service work, Wescott said.

“[Our customers] are very understanding that we are trying to do our best to do what we can to get to them as soon as possible,” he said.

Boaters have non-flood-related changes to watch out for, too.

Barker cautioned boaters to be careful near the Charles J. Miller Road bridge, which is under construction and has a no-wake zone for 300 feet north and south of the bridge.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is recommending boat owners check the expiration date of their boats’ registration, as the agency did not send out watercraft renewal notices this year, spokesman Chris McCloud said.

“As a whole, over a movement of the last several years, we are trying to be as paperless as possible,” he said.

And invasive species are the target of a law that took effect Jan. 1 that makes it illegal for boat owners to take their boats out of or put them into water when they have aquatic plants and animals attached.

Boats are the main way invasive species spread, and owners can prevent them from hitching a ride by cleaning, draining and drying their boats before moving them, said Chris Evans, a biologist with Illinois DNR and its invasive species campaign coordinator.

Some of the common plants, including Eurasian watermilfoil and curly pondweed, cause problems by forming dense mats around the water’s edges, areas fish need for spawning, he said.

It’s not just plants, though.

Animals such as zebra mussels can be carried from one body of water to another in the mud stuck to boats, Evans said. The mussels form huge colonies that can impede recreation and crowd out other animals.

“People think they’re aquatic animals and if you pull it out of the water, it will die, but they can live for days and look crispy,” Evans said. “But once they’re back in the water, they can come back.”

Monday, May 20, 2013

Wisconsin Monitoring Confirms Boats, Not Ducks, Moving Aquatic Invasive Species

Wisconsin Monitoring Confirms Boats, Not Ducks, Moving Aquatic Invasive Species

*See original article here:

MADISON - Preliminary results from systematic monitoring of Wisconsin lakes for aquatic invasive species confirm that boaters, not ducks or other birds, are spreading the invaders around, state and University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers say.

None of the wilderness lakes surveyed - those in remote places and easily accessible only to wildlife - had any invasive species present while there was a direct link between the presence of invasive species and boat access from public and private property.

Thirty percent of the lakes with boat access, however, had Eurasian water-milfoil, 18 percent of the suitable lakes surveyed with boat access had zebra mussels, and three lake systems with boat access had spiny water fleas.

"The fact that accessible lakes are the ones that are invaded indicates that these species are moved by boaters," says Alex Latzka, a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student involved in the research. "While birds could transport invasive species from one lake to another, our finding that remote lakes do not have invasive species strongly indicates that birds are not an important factor."

In recent years, DNR and the UW-Madison have collectively surveyed 450 lakes for aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels, Eurasian water-milfoil and spiny water fleas.

UW-Madison researchers looked for aquatic invasive species in a range of lakes, including wilderness lakes.

DNR focused its sampling on those lakes more likely to have invasive species present because they had boat access that ranged from wide, paved public boat launches to private boat launches to yard access. DNR is two years into its 5-year sampling effort to understand the prevalence of aquatic invasive species in lakes statewide and also to understand whether efforts to slow the spread are working.

Two years of sampling is not enough to tell if the rate of spread is slowing in lakes with boat access, although there are some positive signs, says Scott Van Egeren, the DNR limnologist who coordinated DNR's sampling over the past two years.

The number of lakes DNR surveyed and found with the different invasive species was about the same for both years. Finishing up the five years of monitoring will help provide information on the rate of the spread.

Most lakes with boat access were still free of the worst invasive species; 70 percent of the lakes with public access surveyed were free of Eurasian water-milfoil, despite the fact the invasive plant has been present in Wisconsin for more than 50 years and is considered a relatively widespread aquatic invasive species. And 82 percent of suitable lakes with public access are still clear of zebra mussels, present inland for more than 20 years.

"While we did find one or more invasive species in many of the lakes with private and public boat access, the prevalence of any one of them is relatively low given that some of these invasive species have been present in Wisconsin waters for decades," Van Egeren says.

Bob Wakeman, who coordinates DNR response to aquatic invasive species, says the preliminary results underscore how important it is that boaters take the required steps to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Regulations since 2006 for oceangoing ships have effectively halted the introduction to the Great Lakes of new invasive species, Wakeman says, "so it's up to boaters to keep those invasive species already in the Great Lakes from being spread to inland lakes.

"Out of 184 invasive species introduced to Lake Michigan over the past century, just 29 have made it to inland Wisconsin lakes," Wakeman says. "Boaters have done a good job in recent years in following the rules, and they can continue to keep the damaging species out of inland waters as long as they take a few minutes to take some simple steps. "And we're happy to say that ducks are not going to undo your hard work!"

Bob Wakeman 262-574-2149; Scott Van Egeren 608-264-8895; or Jake Vander Zanden, UW-Madison, 608-262-9464

Webinar: Conservation Science Webinar Series - Native and Non-native Species: How Much Attention Should Managers Be Paying to Origins?

Conservation Science Webinar Series
"The Science behind the News"

The National Conservation Training Center's Conservation Science Webinar Series attempts to cut through the spin and rhetoric by providing the science behind conservation issues in the news.   Tuesday, June 4th, 2013
2:00 – 3:00 PM (Eastern Time)

Native and Non-native Species: How Much Attention Should Managers Be Paying to Origins?

A debate between Mark Davis and Dan Simberloff

Dr. Mark Davis is the DeWitt Wallace Professor of Biology at Macalester College

Dr. Daniel Simberloff is the Gore Hunger professor of Environmental Studies at University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

Description: Two of the leading scientists in the field of Invasion Biology, Dr. Mark Davis (author of the book Invasion Biology, published in 2009 by Oxford University Press) and Dr. Daniel Simberloff (Director of the Institute for Biological Invasions at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville) will discuss when, if and how conservation biologists and managers should deal with non-native species.

Note: Captioning Services are available. If you cannot attend, this webinar will be recorded and posted on the Conservation Science Webinar Series Archive after the presentation.       To register for the Webinar:

Go to:
Enter the webinar title in the search box
Scroll down to find your webinar
Click the Register button to the right
Enter your name, e-mail address and company
Click register

Once registered, you will receive an email with instructions on how to join the webinar.
Trouble registering? Questions? Contact: Marilyn Williams, 304-876-7940 (

This Week's ISAM Events - May 20 - 26, 2013

Lots of great opportunities to participate in Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month this week. Below is a list of this week's events. As always, check for more information on these events and a full list of events for 2013 ISAM.

Mon May 20, 2013

1pm - 3pm Fermilab Natural Areas - Garlic Mustard Challenge
Where: Fermilab Natural Areas - Meet in Lederman Science Center parking lot at
1 PM

Tue May 21, 2013

11am - 12pm Webinar - EAB 101

Sat May 25, 2013

8am - 12pm Peoria Wilds Restoration Workday - Singing Woods
Where: Singing Woods - Peoria Heights

9am - 11am Bush honeysuckle removal at Lafferty Nature Center, Charleston
Where: Lafferty Nature Center, Charleston

9am - 3pm Clean Boats Crew Outreach Event - Chicago Area (Diversey Harbor)
Where: Diversey Harbor -- 2601 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL

9am - 3pm
Clean Boats Crew Outreach Event - Chicago Area (North Point Marina)
Where: North Point Marina -- 701 North Point Drive, Winthrop Harbor, IL

9am - 12pm
Lake County Forest Preserve District Stewardship Workday - Garlic Mustard Pull
Where: Rollins Savanna - Grayslake, IL

9am - 12pm
Lake County Forest Preserve District Stewardship Workday - Garlic Mustard Pull
Where: Ryerson Woods, Riverwoods, IL

10am - 2pm Chicago Park Distrcit - Garlic Mustard Pull
Where: Darrow Bridge

10am - 1pm Kickapoo Woods Volunteer Day - Riverdale
Where: Kickapoo Forest Preserve - 14383 S. Halsted, Riverdale, Illinois 60827

Sun May 26, 2013

9am - 3pm Clean Boats Crew Outreach Event - Chicago Area (Chain O' Lakes State Park)
Where: Chain O’ Lakes -- 8916 Wilmot Road, Spring Grove, IL

9am - 3pm Clean Boats Crew Outreach Event - Chicago Area (Skokie Lagoons)
Where: Skokie Lagoons -- Boat ramp off Tower Rd. Entrance in Winnetka, east of the Edens Expressway.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Midwestern Frogs Decline, Mammal Populations Altered by Invasive Plant, Studies Reveal

One more reason to hate Buckthorn...

Midwestern Frogs Decline, Mammal Populations Altered by Invasive Plant, Studies Reveal

May 1, 2013 — Researchers at Lincoln Park Zoo and Northern Illinois University have discovered a new culprit contributing to amphibian decline and altered mammal distribution throughout the Midwest region -- the invasive plant European buckthorn. This non-native shrub, which has invaded two-thirds of the United States, has long been known to negatively impact plant community composition and forest structure, but these two innovative studies slated to publish in upcoming editions of the Journal of Herpetology and Natural Areas Journal demonstrate how this shrub negatively impacts native amphibians and affects habitat use by mammals including increased prevalence of coyotes and other carnivores...   Read full article from Science Daily HERE

New Invasive Plant Fact Sheets available from Ohio Invasive Plants Council

The Ohio Invasive Plants Council (OIPC) has posted on their website,, the new factsheets on some of the most problematic invasive plant species in Ohio.   These factsheets have the latest information, including best practices in management/control for each, new distribution maps, etc..   The factsheets can be found at

Lesser Celandine Becoming a Major Problem in Parts of the State - Home, Yard & Garden Newsletter

Here is a great article by Michelle Wiesbrook on an emerging invasive plant in NE Illinois, lesser celandine (aka fig buttercup) in the Illinois Cooperative Extension Service's Home, Yard & Garden Newsletter.  If you know of new locations of this plant, please enter that information into

See original article HERE

Lesser Celandine Becoming a Major Problem in Parts of the State  
By Michelle Wiesbrook (originally published in Home, Yard & Garden Newsletter Issue 3/May 13, 2013

If you live in northeast Illinois and you frequent wooded areas in the spring, you may very likely be familiar with lesser celandine (Ficaria verna or Ranunculus ficaria) which is also known as fig buttercup and pilewort. This short, invasive perennial like many others was introduced as an ornamental garden plant. It is quickly becoming a serious invasive in this state as well as parts of the northeast U.S. Sale of this plant is only regulated in Massachusetts and Connecticut so Illinois gardeners can purchase this plant for use in their own gardens. I find it amusing that the cultivar, ‘Brazen Hussy' appears to be aptly named by a breeder with a sense of humor. I hear that another plant, greater celandine (Chelidonium majus), is grateful to be of no relation to lesser celandine.

Lesser celandine (Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,
 However, large unwanted populations of this plant are no laughing matter. Mats of leaves can dominate forest floors blocking light to native plants. Just a quick survey taken this week of a few land stewards finds that there are known populations of lesser celandine in Cook, DuPage, and Lake counties – more specifically, in these areas:
  • along the flood plain of the Des Plaines river including the town of Riverwoods
  • at the North Branch of the Chicago river
  • near lake Michigan ravines and bluff tops
  • in the forest preserves
  • in the vicinity of the Skokie River.
I'm certain there are many more populations. This plant is becoming a big problem.
It was first collected in Illinois (at least in the Chicago region) in 1978. It is often seen in moist areas in lawns or adjacent wooded areas, near streams. It grows in moist soil of floodplains and seepage areas. It has appeared in wooded wetlands, both in open sun and in shaded areas. 

This spring ephemeral is reportedly in bloom now in Lake County. The flowers are attractive, up to 3 inches wide, and aid greatly in identification. They are usually 8-petaled and on stalks. Lesser celandine flowers profusely and deer don't seem to like to eat the plants. From a distance, it could be mistaken for marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) however.

The leaves can be irregular in shape but are generally heart-shaped or kidney-shaped. Size is variable but they are shiny, succulent, and often dark green. Once the flowers die back, bulblets (bulbils) are visible above the ground. It has small tubers that aid with spread and allow it to overwinter. Leaves and basal rosettes appear again in late winter.

Lesser celandine is difficult to eradicate. Some have found success with applications of glyphosate (1.5%) very early in the spring. Wait until temperatures are above 50 degrees F. Small clumps can be dug by hand, being sure to remove all tubers. The rosettes however are discrete and can be difficult to locate. Removing the flowers prior to seed set may help in preventing the spread.

For more information, check out these factsheets:
Special thanks to Chris Evans of IDNR and Paul Marcum and David Ketzner of INHS for their assistance in collecting information on this species. (Michelle Wiesbrook)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Article - Take measures to prevent spread of invasive species while enjoying nature

by Chris Young
Originally published in the The Peoria Journal Star
See Original Article HERE

When it comes to preventing the spread of invasive species, people who love the outdoors should take steps to be sure they are not part of the problem.

Many invasive species — defined as plants and animals that can cause economic and ecological harm — crowd out native species and can be difficult to control.

Chris Evans, invasive species campaign coordinator with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said people need to learn to identify invasive species and help prevent their spread.

“One thing they can do is familiarize themselves with the invasives,” Evans said. “Learn what is in your area.”

One example is Japanese stiltgrass, an annual that is a major invader of forests in southern Illinois.

Evans said the plant is making its way northward, probably because seeds are carried on boots, all-terrain vehicles and even horses.

“We re trying to get people to watch for it,” he said.

Officials in Illinois are keeping a close eye on hydrilla, an aquatic plant.

“It’s not here yet,” Evans said. “But it is pretty abundant south and east, and is showing up a few places in the Midwest. It can just dominate in a reservoir or aquatic system.”

It was once sold as an aquarium plant, according to

So great is the threat, that a task force has been formed to plan a response should hydrilla appear in Illinois.

Like another invasive aquatic plant, Eurasian water milfoil, it spreads by plant fragments that can hitch a ride on boats.

As temperatures warm and people head outside, Evans said people should clean their shoes and equipment (including boats) before moving from one site to another.

For landowners who don’t know if they have a problem, Evans suggests a visit to a local University of Illinois Extension or U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service office.

Local staff members will be familiar with problems plants in your area.

“If they don’t know the answer to your question, they will know who to ask,” Evans said.

Some of the invaders are in the news frequently — the advance of Asian carp is one familiar example. But carp and plants aren’t the only invaders.

Feral swine

“It’s not just plants,” Evans said. “The spread of feral swine is something we are seeing more across the state, and we are concerned.”

Feral swine, or wild hogs, can destroy wildlife habitat. The also reproduce rapidly.

Most wild pigs are not escapees from farms, but animals brought here for hunting.

Giant hogweed

Giant hogweed is a member of the carrot family, but can grow 10 to 12 feet tall with clusters of flowers 18 to 20 inches wide.

“It looks like Queen Anne’s lace on steroids,” he said. “The reason we are concerned is because the sap can cause severe burns.”

Another relative, wild parsley, can also cause irritating burns when the plant is pulled by hand.

Bush honeysuckle

There are several species of honeysuckle, with two main shrub species causing most of the problems in Illinois.

Bush honeysuckle has arching stems, long-lasting green foliage and bright red berries in late fall.

“Bush honeysuckle occurs across the state, and is a major problem in Illinois forests,” Evans said. “It can invade even mature, healthy forest. It is pretty devastating when it gets in there shading out our native plants and shrubs.” (See video on


Buckthorn is a forest shrub or small tree that has the ability to discourage other plants from growing nearby.

“Buckthorn is very aggressive, but past the northern half of the state we don’t see it as much,” Evans said. “In northern Illinois it is a major issue.”

Oriental bittersweet

“It is a species of vine that wraps tightly around trees,” Evans said. “It can wrap so tightly the trees grow out and over it and girdle the tree .” (Many outdoorsmen and women have encountered trees that have grown over barbed wire wrapped around a tree trunk.)

It can also grow up and over trees and shade them.

Zebra mussels

Zebra mussels are small mussels with striped shells. They tend to congregate in clusters and have the potential to clog water intake pipes.

Like many of the invasive species in the Great Lakes, zebra mussels probably were brought here by ocean-going ships from other parts of the world.

“They are still here and they are still an issue,” he said. “They are well established and there’s not much we can do about it. Asian carp has taken the role as the number one aquatic invader.”

Garlic mustard

Originally brought to the new world by settlers for use as a potted herb, garlic mustard has gradually spread across the eastern United States, picking up steam every year.

The plants produce large numbers of extremely small seeds that can be easily spread.

To kill the plant, it must be pulled and removed from the site.

The good news is that garlic mustard is edible.

Chris Young can be reached at (217) 788-1528. Follow him at

Kid Craft: Asian Longhorned Beetle Ring

With a hat tip over to the Illinois CAPS program, here is a neat kids craft from the Massachusetts Introduced Pest Outreach Blog.


This Week's ISAM Events - May 13- 19, 2013

Lots of great opportunities to participate in Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month this week. Below is a list of this week's events. As always, check for more information on these events and a full list of events for 2013 ISAM.

Tue May 14, 2013

6pm - 7pm Harrisburg - Invasive Species Presentation for Shawnee National Forest
Where: Shawnee National Forest Headquarters - Harrisburg

Wed May 15, 2013

9am - 2:30pm Morton Arboretum - Invasive Pests, Plants and Pathogens
Where: Morton Arboretum - Thornhill Education Center - Lisle, IL

6pm - 7pm Clean Boats Crew Training - Chicago Botanic Garden
Where: Chicago Botanic Garden Seminar Room, Chicago Botanic Garden – 1000 LakeCook Road, Glencoe, IL

Sat May 18, 2013

Carbondale - Green Earth Volunteer Workday Garlic Mustard Pull
Where: Green Earth’s Chautauqua Bottoms Preserve (Woodland Spur Trail)

9am - 12pm Annual Garlic Mustard Pull at McCormick Ravine, Lake Forest
Where: McCormick Ravine, Lake Foreset

9am - 11am Bush honeysuckle removal at Warbler Woods, south of Charleston
Where: Warbler Woods, Charleston

9am - 12pm
Lake County Forest Preserve District Stewardship Workday - Garlic
Mustard Pull
Where: Almond Marsh, Grayslake, IL

9am - 12pm
Lake County Forest Preserve District Stewardship Workday - Garlic
Mustard Pull
Where: Grant Woods, Lake Villa, IL

9am - 12pm Powderhorn Prairie Volunteer Day - Chicago
Where: Powderhorn Prairie, 13817 S. Brainard Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60633

9:30am - 2:30pm Goods From Your Woods Workshop - Jackson County
Where: Giant City Lodge, Makanda, IL

2pm - 3pm Clean Boats Crew Training - Chicago Botanic Garden
Where: Chicago Botanic Garden Seminar Room, Chicago Botanic Garden – 1000 LakeCook Road, Glencoe, IL

Sun May 19, 2013

12pm - 3pm Lake County Forest Preserve District Stewardship Workday - Garlic
Mustard Pull
Where: Wilmot Woods, Libertyville, IL

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

MN DNR conservation officers using dogs to detect zebra mussels

Really creative way to tackle the problem of Zebra Mussels in Minnesota.  The story comes to us via the Minnesota DNR


DNR conservation officers using dogs to detect zebra mussels
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will be using three zebra mussel-sniffing K-9 teams for the first time this year to help combat the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS).
Minnesota is the second state in the country to use trained dogs to prevent the spread of AIS. They will be used throughout the state during the open water season.
“The use of K-9s is a progressive enforcement tool that will complement and support our invasive species prevention efforts,” said Col. Jim Konrad, DNR Enforcement director. “However, they should not overshadow the fact that preventing the spread of AIS is still everyone’s personal responsibility.”
Earlier this year, conservation officers Todd Kanieski and Travis Muyres traveled to California to learn about the country’s first program successfully utilizing mussel trained K-9’s to prevent the spread of AIS.
“A K-9 can find a mussel on a boat much faster than a human inspector,” said Kanieski.
The Minnesota mussel dogs were trained in-house for five weeks by Muyres, an experienced
K-9 handler and certified K-9 unit trainer.
Muyres’ K-9 mussel team partner “Laina” is a Belgium Malinois purchased from a domestic breeder. The other teams include water resource enforcement officers Lt. Julie Siems and her K-9 partner “Brady” and Lt. Larry Hanson and his K-9 partner “Digger.” Siems’ and Hanson’s dogs are Labrador retrievers provided by animal shelters and animal rescue organizations.
“It’s very difficult to find a qualified prospective detector dog, but each of the dogs selected from the shelter was healthy, sociable and had a strong search drive,” said Muyres. “That search drive will prove to be invaluable in detecting AIS.”
The mussel detecting K-9s will also be trained in tracking, evidence recovery, firearms detection, and wildlife detection.
“Combining mussel detecting with these additional skills will add muscle to the DNR’s capabilities and efficiency in protecting the state’s natural resources,” said Kanieski.
The DNR Enforcement Division has utilized K-9s to assist in protecting our natural resources since 1995. The DNR’s two current K-9 units are not trained in mussel detection.
According to the DNR, zebra mussels can multiply out of control and dramatically change the ecosystem of a body of water. They are often transported from lake to lake by boaters. The mussels are only about the size of a finger nail, and their larvae microscopic, making them tough to find. They have been discovered on various lakes across the state.
The DNR will also have between 126 and 146 human watercraft inspectors stationed around the state at various lakes this summer.
Boaters and anglers need to continue to take extra precautions when using Minnesota waters to avoid spreading AIS to new waters.
Boaters are required by law to:
  • Remove aquatic plants, zebra mussels and other prohibited species from boats, trailers and equipment before transporting from any water access.
  • Drain all water from bilges, livewells, motors, ballast tanks and portable bait containers before leaving water accesses or shoreline property.
  • Remove the drain plug, open water draining devices, and drain bilges and livewells; the drain plug must be removed or open when transporting a boat on public roads.
A video of the dogs is available:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Article on invasive species control at Starved Rock

Nice article from the LaSalle News Tribune on invasvie species efforts at Starved Rock

See the original article HERE.

Mendota man battles non-native plants
By Jeff Dankert

To restore and maintain native plants, Bryon Walters wages war.

The 53-year-old conservation biologist from Mendota cuts down invasive non-native plants and when that doesn’t work, he turns to chemical warfare.

Walters fights on many fronts through his one-man company, Illinois Natural Areas Improvements.

Most recently Starved Rock State Park called Walters to attack a grove of black locust trees and other non-native plants at the park’s west entrance.

“That just helps out whenever you get rid of the negative component, the natives have a better chance of prospering and flourishing,” Walters said. “You need to tend to it like a garden. You can’t just let it sit idle.”

Walters, with assistance of state forester Randy Timmons, arborist Scott Shearer and a tree crew, cut down the locusts. This tree is native to the southeastern U.S. and far southern Illinois but has been widely transplanted beyond its native range. Walters treated the cut stumps with glyphosphate to prevent re-sprouting.

If the locust was the only problem, Walters’ job would be easier.

“We cleared the black locust but there’s a plethora of exotics underneath,” Walters said.

This week he returned with a backpack sprayer filled with 2,4-D and tricoplyr to drive back other aggressive invaders. He moved across the slope and jetted a blue spray on bull thistle, cutleaf teasel, poison hemlock, burdock and others. He also identified non-native reed canary grass, common buckthorn, catnip, garlic mustard and Asian honeysuckle.

The teasel from Europe has spread along roadsides through regular mowing, which disperses seeds, Walters said. It creates “a trail of teasel,” he said.

Herbicides are a last resort on natural areas. But when mechanical means like pulling or cutting don’t work, you have to use chemicals or you lose the battle, Walters said.

Park superintendent Mark McConnaughhay said he turns to Walters for burning prairies to spraying patches of aggressive and out-of-place plants, with guidance of Illinois Department of Natural Resources district heritage biologist Dan Kirk. A state Natural Area Acquisition Fund helps pay for Walters’ services.

Walters began his natural resources career as a bird biologist but realized bird surveys were not going to pay the bills. A professional acquaintance nudged him toward vegetation management. That was 25 years ago. Walters has been busy.

“It’s a job that’s always going to be there,” Walters said.

He began his new career with classes at Morton Arboretum and volunteering with The Nature Conservancy, he said. His job requires broad knowledge of botany and plant ecology and skills using field equipment. He must remain licensed and certified as a pesticide applicator.

The public has misperceptions about his work, about plants and about their interactions on the landscape, Walters said.

“They assume these areas take care of themselves and they don’t,” he said. “Careful thought needs to be put into how you plant and how you landscape to preserve our natural biodiversity.”

The North American landscape once took care of itself. After Europeans invaded, the landscape was patch-worked into crop fields. Agriculture, industry, transportation and technology rapidly altered the land. Intentional plantings and accidental introductions began replacing native plants. It wiped out 99 percent of the natural areas of Illinois, Walters said.

“No other state is more altered than Illinois,” he said. “Our ecosystem can’t take this constant barrage.”

Illinois’ economic drivers of agriculture and industry mostly trump care for flora and fauna, Walters said.

This makes something like Starved Rock State Park “an oasis in an agricultural and industrial area,” he said.

Native landscapes could have played an economic role in the most obvious, recent example of record floods.

Native grasslands and wetlands filter and soak up water. If they were restored on a scale that mattered, this could have saved the state and its citizens billions of dollars, Walters said.

For the first time in years, the south slope along the park entrance provides a locust-free view of the limestone cliffs and native plants like witch hazel, red-berried elderberry, pagoda dogwood, white pines, Solomon’s seal, bloodroot, Dutchman’s breeches, yellow bellwort, Canada anemone and others.

The west entrance once hugged the bluff. It was later elevated and the sloping shoulder was planted with black locusts, considered a good choice for soil erosion. It was a bad choice. It is not native; it shades out spring wildflowers; and it is allotropic, giving off chemicals that prevent competition from other plants. Asian honeysuckle also is allotropic, Walters said.

“Honeysuckle, it’s the No. 1 plant we need to go after statewide,” he said.

There are native honeysuckles but these are seldom grown and sold, he said.

The site will require many visits to eradicate invasive plants. Walters will revisit the locust patch in two to three weeks. The site has a good base of natives, growing and with seed in the soil, so Walters won’t have to plant any natives, he said.

This fall, he will use a controlled burn to further knock back invasive plants, reduce some of the locust timber and encourage more natives.

“Because we fragment the land, it’s an ongoing process,” Walters said. “It’s a long road for that recovery.”

Jeff Dankert can be reached at (815) 220-6977 or

Monday, May 6, 2013

This Week's ISAM Events - May 6- 12, 2013

Lots of great opportunities to participate in Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month this week.  Below is a list of this week's events.  As always, check for more information on these events and a full list of events for 2013 ISAM.

Tue May 7, 2013

11am - 12pm
IFA Webinar: Spring/Summer Forest Invasives and Their Impacts on Forest Health

Wed May 8, 2013

10am - 12pm
Great Garlic Mustard Hunt – East Central Master Naturalist (Champaign Area)
Where: Urbana Park District (loc TBD)

Sat May 11, 2013

9am - 12pm Dan Ryan Woods Volunteer Stewardship Day - Chicago
Where: Dan Ryan Woods, 2198 W. 87th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60620

9am - 12pm DuPage County - Fullersburg Woods Restoration Workday
Where: Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve, Oak Brook, DuPage County

9am - 11am Garlic mustard pull at Embarras Ridges Woods, south of Charleston
Where: Embarras Ridges Woods - Charleston

9am - 12pm Glenview - 21st Annual Chicago River Day
Where: Village of Glenview

9am - 11am
Great Garlic Mustard Hunt – East Central Master Naturalist (ChampaignArea)
Where: Anita Purves Nature Center/Busey Woods

9am - 12pm
Lake County Forest Preserve District Stewardship Workday - Garlic Mustard Pull
Where: Ela Prairie, Lake Zurich, IL

9am - 12pm
Lake County Forest Preserve District Stewardship Workday - Garlic Mustard Pull - Chicago River Day
Where: Prairie Wolf Slough, Highland Park, IL

9am - 12pm Lake Forest Open Lands – Chicago River Day
Where: Skokie River Nature Preserve

10am - 1pm Eggers Woods Volunteer Stewardship Day - Chicago
Where: Eggers Woods, 11200 S. Avenue E, Chicago, IL 60617

12pm - 3pm Peoria Wilds Restoarion Workday - Rocky Glen Hill Prairie
Where: Rocky Glen Hill Prairie - West Peoria

1pm - 3pm Great Garlic Mustard Hunt – East Central Master Naturalist (ChampaignArea)
Where: Weaver Park

Sun May 12, 2013

9am - 12pm
Lake County Forest Preserve District Stewardship Workday - Garlic Mustard Pull
Where: Oriole Grove, Lake Bluff, IL

9am - 12pm
Lake County Forest Preserve District Stewardship Workday - Garlic Mustard Pull
Where: McDonald Woods, Linderhurst IL

9am - 12pm
Lake County Forest Preserve District Stewardship Workday - Garlic Mustard Pull
Where: Marl Flat Forest Preserve, Volo, IL

Article - Land invasion: Bradford Pear Tree

A nice article on the invasion of Bradford Pear in Illinois from Chris Young of the Peoria Journal Star.

See original article HERE.

Land Invasion: Bradford Pear Tree
by Chris Young, Peoria Journal Star

It’s a stealthy invader cloaked in beautiful white flowers.

Bradford pear trees have been popular landscape trees, being planted extensively since the late 1980s and 1990s.

Originally, the varieties sold were grown from cuttings that were supposed to produce trees that were sterile.

They were genetically similar enough they couldn’t pollinate each other.

But those first trees were prone to splitting in high winds, so new varieties were developed to combat that problem.

The unintended consequence of fixing one problem was to create another.

The new varieties were able to pollinate the original trees that were still around.

“They started introducing new selections, and once those trees were planted, they were able to cross-pollinate the Bradfords that were already out there,” said Alana McKean, manager of Starhill Forest Arboretum outside Petersburg.

The fruits are small, nothing like pears found in the supermarket.

“Not only do the fruits drop right there under the trees, but the birds pick them up and carry them for miles.”

The result was Bradford pear trees showing up along roadsides, in woodlands and just about everywhere else.

Petersburg arborist and author Guy Sternberg, who owns Starhill Forest Arboretum with his wife, Edie, said invasive species often start out harmless.

“But invasive species tend to sleep, creep and then leap,” he said, referring to a confluence of events that allow a plant to break out and “leap” past the competition.

Many people likely mistake Bradford pears for flowering dogwoods in the spring.

In the fall, the deep burgundy leaves stay around long after other trees have gone bare.

“It was a plant that behaved for many years until these other varieties came along that started producing viable seed, and then it took off,” said Chris Evans, Illinois Department of Natural Resources invasive species program manager.