Friday, November 3, 2017

CRISP Strategic Planning Focus Group Discussions

The Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) strategic planning effort is organizing Focus Group Discussions of stakeholders to encourage input on the strategic direction and activities of CRISP to best manage its resources going forward.  Each Focus Group Discussion will be a 2 hour session facilitated by Meredith Richardson, Strategic Planner.  Participants will work together to help define the CRISP long-term and short-term goals and the activities needed to achieve those goals.  We are holding 11 Focus Group Discussions around the region from 11/6 to 11/13.

The date, time, host organization, address of the meeting and focus subject are described in the table at this link:

Please join us for these meetings!  This is a good opportunity to network with not only CRISP staff, but other CRISP Partners.  We are looking forward to listening to our stakeholders and getting input on how best to address invasive species in the Catskills region going forward.


The Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) promotes education, prevention, early detection and control of invasive species to limit their impact on the ecosystems and economies of the Catskills. CRISP collaborates with partner organizations on invasive species management activities, monitoring, and rapid response for early detection species. The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development is operating under a five-year contract with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to continue to build the CRISP program.  CRISP offers funding for partner organizations to support prevention programs, control efforts on high priority species, monitoring surveys, education programs and research.   If you’re interested in what we’ve been doing, a link to our 2016 Annual Report is here

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Alert: New Mile-A-Minute Infestation Found in Woodstock

Triangular leaves of Mile-A-Minute vine
Mile-A-Minute (Persicaria perfoliata) is a highly invasive, herbaceous annual vine native to eastern Asia.  It was unintentionally introduced in contaminated soil into the United States in Pennsylvania and Maryland in the 1930’s. It is an aggressive invader, earning its common name by its fast growth, up to six inches a day!  It grows as a vine, using its spines to climb over other plants, and it reproduces by seed. Mile-a-minute weed is a a prolific seeder and flowers for a long period of time, late summer through October, so can produce many fruit during one season.  Vines are killed by Fall frost and the seeds overwinter in the soil. Seeds can be viable in the soil for up to 6 years and germinate at a high rate.  
Mile-a-minute colonizes disturbed areas along forest edges, wetlands, stream banks and roadsides. It thrives in full sun and prefers high soil moisture.  Mile-a-minute outcompetes native species by its rapid growth and ability to grow over other plants and shade them out.  This plant often grows in streamside habitats and because the seeds can float, the seeds can be carried downstream, aiding the spread of this plant to previously uninfested areas.  Although the main vector for seed dispersal are birds that eat the fruits and deposit the seeds in their droppings, and other animals that ingest the seeds also contribute to the spread of this plant.
Ocrea encircling the stem
Mile-a-minute vines have alternate, light green triangular leaves, 4 to 7 cm long and 5 to 9 cm wide. The vines are light green and become reddish as they mature. The vine stems and the undersides of leaves are covered with recurved barbs that help it to hold onto objects and climb. A unique feature of mile-a-minute is that it has 1-2 cm diameter round, flat leaves, called “ocreae, “that circle the stems at the nodes. Ripe fruits are blue.

The newly discovered population of this plant in the Town of Woodstock is spread over an area of about ¾ acre.  Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) staff are working with the landowner to treat this population and are concerned that there may be other populations.  Mile-a-minute is widespread in the lower Hudson Valley, but this is only the second population that we know about in the CRISP region, with the other CRISP infestation along the Delaware River.  The closest known population to the Woodstock patch is 18 miles away in the Town of Esopus, outside of the CRISP region, in the Lower Hudson Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management region.
Blue Fruit
If you think you see this plant in the CRISP region, please report it here or contact us at or (845) 586-2611. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Watch Out for Oak Wilt

Tree with oak wilt. Photo by NYS DEC staff.
In 2016 oak wilt was found at new locations in Islip, Riverhead, Southhold, Brooklyn and Canandaigua in addition to a known location in Glenville, New York. Since so many new locations surrounding our region were discovered last year, it is important that we are all aware of what the signs of this disease are and that any new locations are discovered quickly and reported.

Oak wilt (Ceratocysis fagacearum) is a fungus that infects the conductive tissue (water carrying cells) of oak trees.  The fungus blocks the flow of water and nutrients from the roots to the crown of the tree. Susceptibility depends on the species of oak.  Species in the red oak group may die within 1-5 weeks, while species in the white oak group may persist for years. In red oaks, fungal spores can be transported through all parts of the tree as the tree nears death; but in white oaks the distribution of spores only occur in the xylem of the current year’s growth.

Oak wilt was first discovered in Wisconsin in 1944 and has spread through the Midwest from Minnesota to Texas.  It was first found in New York State in 2008 at the Glenville site.  

Symptoms of oak wilt include browning of the leaves from the tip and edges moving in towards the midrib of the leaf.  Trees will shed leaves in late spring to early summer.  Infected red oaks lose their leaves from the top down, while in the white oak group leaves are lost in sections. 
Necrosis of the leaves from tips and margins. Photo by NYS DEC staff.
The fungus can spread naturally in two ways: above ground by beetles and below ground through root grafts. The fungus produces a fruity smelling mat of fungal spores under the bark of oak trees killed by the oak wilt fungus. These spore mats attract sap feeding beetles which can carry the spores from diseased trees to healthy trees. The sticky spores from these mats adhere to the insects’ bodies, and the beetles carry the spores to wounds on healthy trees. Oak wilt is also transmitted from tree to tree by underground connections called root grafts. Fine root grafts commonly occur between trees.
Humans can also spread the fungus over long distances by moving infected wood products or nursery stock.

If you observe an oak tree dropping leaves in early summer, and suspect that you are seeing symptoms of oak wilt, please take pictures of symptoms and report your sighting to DEC Forest Health or call 1-866-650-0652.  To learn more about oak wilt and Early Detection in our region, watch for upcoming CRISP events!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Internship Experience with CRISP

This summer I was given the opportunity to work with the Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) through an internship offered by The Student Conservation Association (SCA). During my internship I worked on a variety of outreach programs at local school districts, fairs, and on the web. I was able to contribute to public awareness of CRISP's top ten priority invasive species, focusing primarily on the emerald ash borer and Asian Longhorned beetle.
Educating the Public at the Forest Pest Fair in Margaretville, NY

My most notable project, which I completed with the other summer intern Kersten Laveroni, was a Youtube series. Each episode in the series explained how the species was introduced, how to identify it, and most importantly- what to do to stop the spread in the Catskills. It was fun to research each species and then locate where it was found in our region- often taking adventurous road trips. I also had fun developing my video presence and now appreciate actors who memorize pages of script much more! I am sure that this project will continue to raise awareness and contribute to CRISP's work long after I leave my internship position :) Check out CRISP's youtube channel to watch the videos.

Another fun project was working with children at local school districts, the Frost Valley YMCA, and the summer camp program at Mine Kill State Park. During these visits I introduced the concept of what an invasive species is and why it is important to protect the Catskills from them. I highlighted the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle using activities such as games, specimen samples, coloring activities, and trivia questions. It always amazes me just how much children can learn in a short amount of time. CRISP's efforts here will go a long way in sustaining a movement of environmental awareness.

Showing students at Bennett Elementary how to be strong ash trees

I also had the opportunity to pursue a more independent project on agricultural pests. I created a page on the CRISP website that highlighted several of the agricultural pests that are a issue in New York. The page also provides resources  to learn about integrated pest management, as a sustainable method to control and prevent crop damage from pests. I also created a pamphlet on the brown marmorated stink bug, a pest that causes damage to many fruit crops. This pamphlet will be used at future CRISP events. This project was a great way to  connected CRISP's goals to my personal interest in food and agriculture.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

I could not have asked for a better Internship. Working with Meredith Taylor, the director of CRISP, as well as the staff at the Catskill Center, was a pleasure and I truly appreciate their leadership and guidance. The experience was above and beyond all of my expectations and I have no doubt that this experience will continue to benefit me as I pursue a career in the environmental field.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Swan Lake Water Chestnut Removal

Last week the CRISP team went out to Swan Lake in Sullivan county to check out the status of the water chestnut infestation.  The infestation covered a substantial portion of the lake, about 120 acres out of 395.  The home owners association decided to use a chemical treatment after hand pulling failed to make a huge difference in the amount of water chestnuts.  They decided on a five year treatment plan, the first one took place in the summer of 2009.  The first treatment was a small area to test the effectiveness. It only took about 2 months for drastic changes to be seen. The CRISP team helped as much as they could during their brief visit to the area and managed to clear water surrounding the nearby park.  We want to encourage people to do what they can to manage breakouts like these before taking huge steps like chemical treatment.  However, sometimes its the most cost efficient and effective.  When I saw the lake I couldn't believe that less then 3 years ago it was swarming with water chestnut.  The residents of Swan Lake still have a long road ahead of them but they are optimistic and hope for a water chestnut free lake!
1 week after the first treatment
4 weeks after first treatment

Friday, July 6, 2012

Aquatic Invasive Training

On June 21st I went to a training on aquatic invasive species. The training was at a research station along the Delaware River, on the Pennsylvania border. The training was mainly for the summer staff, who help people who are boating on the river so that they can advise people to get their boats cleaned and to look for any invasives that may be on the boats. Unlike the reservoirs, there is no enforcement to make people clean their boats here.  The program was sponsored by CRISP as part of their boat stewards program.

The training was all day and we learned about 20-25 different invasive species and a few stories of species that are really bad such as the zebra mussel and didymo (AKA rock snot). There were so many invasives to learn and it was good perspective to see just how easily these organisms can spread and how hard they are to control. I also found it interesting (and shocking) that the introduction of invasives to an aquatic ecosystem has such a large effect on the diversity of native species.
Didymo is also one of the 10 priority species for CRISP that was presented at the training. It is a single celled organism that attaches to rocks on river bottoms and forms colonies that are dense mats.

 Colonies prohibit macroinvertibrates from living on the stream bottom. Since macroinvertibrates are such a large source of food in aquatic ecosystems and are important in breaking down organic matter, cycling nutrients didymo can disrupt the entire stream habitat. Here is a great video that shows just how much rock snot can spread from a single cell.

 One of the other aquatic species we learned about that are on the priority list for CRIP’S are Water Chestnut and Eurasian water milfoil. Water chestnut floats on top of the water like a lily pad and lowers the dissolved oxygen levels below what is needed to support a healthy aquatic ecosystem.  It can be identified by its thorny, black seeds.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Reservoirs are Open!

Yesterday, Carrie and Kersten got the chance to go canoeing on the Pepacton Reservoir!  First, they went right down the road in Arkville to the Pepacton Bait and Tackle shop, a local steam cleaning vendor.  After a thorough cleaning of the canoe and all the gear, they were finally on their way to the water.  They arrived at the Shavertown Bridge boat launch and were not the only ones enjoying the beautiful day on the water.  There were day campers and kayakers ready to launch and paddle!  The views were beyond amazing and the atmosphere was pure serenity.  The interns wouldv'e stayed for hours, their only deterrent was their lack of sunscreen and water...  It was a great experience and we recommend it for everyone! Go out and enjoy your surroundings!