Invasive mussels found in aquarium products

Invasive zebra mussels have been found in commercially available aquatic moss balls in North Carolina, and consumers who have purchased any such balls in the past month are urged to properly destroy them and clean their aquariums.

Fire (ants) on the mountain: Research shows invasives species can survive cold winters

Since its arrival to the United States in the early 1930s, the fire ant has been making a slow but steady march northward from the site of its initial arrival in Mobile, Alabama, but scientists had always assumed that cold winters would at some point put a stop to the tropical invasive species’ spread. 

National parks battle invasion

The National Park Service is embarking on a system-wide effort to crack down on invasive animal species following the conclusion of a three-year research endeavor conducted by a panel of experts in fields ranging from park management to emerging technology. 

The Park Service reached out to members of the group in 2016, asking them to review the agency’s existing approach to invasive animal management and to look at the results of data collected from park units across the country. Combining panel members’ expert knowledge with data results and information gleaned from questions to park staff, the group produced an internal report to the Park Service as well as a scientific paper published this month in the journal “Biological Invasions.”

From enemy to ally: Kudzu Camp seeks to overturn misconceptions

It was 1983 when Avram Friedman first rolled into Sylva, driving the repurposed school bus that was home for him, his wife and their 18-month-old son during their cross-country trek from California. They were looking for a more permanent living situation, and while most would have passed over the 3-acre property that is still the Friedman family home, to Avram it was perfect — mainly because the land and the house combined cost only $12,000. 

“We didn’t have any money,” Avram laughed. “We were just poor hippies.”

Hunting for kudzu

Even as I parked my car at the bottom of a steep and weedy hill that Friday morning, I wasn’t quite sure what I’d signed up for by electing to participate in Kudzu Camp. 

Keeping ash in the Smokies: Land managers, conservation groups work to protect ash from invasive pest

At some point roughly 20 years ago, a shipment from Asia arrived in the United States with a passel of six-legged stowaways lurking in its wooden pallets. Since it was first detected near Detroit in 2002, the emerald ash borer has gnawed its way through ash trees across North America, leaving a swath of destruction across 31 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces — and counting.

The EAB was first spotted in North Carolina in 2013, when it was confirmed in Granville, Person, Vance and Warren counties, a contiguous area in the central part of the state bordering Virginia. Now it’s present in 33 of the state’s 100 counties and continues to spread. WNC counties with confirmed ash borer infestations are Haywood, Swain, Macon, Graham, Buncombe, Madison, Mitchell and Yancey counties — this month, the N.C. Forest Service found EAB on several trees in the Alarka area of Swain County after the beetle was initially found in Bryson City last summer.

Turning away the invaders: Natural stream banks key to healthy waterways

out frTake a walk in mid-May, and you probably won’t get far before finding somebody bent over a garden bed, weeding. Eric Romaniszyn and Christine O’Brien were doing just that on a warm Thursday afternoon, but they weren’t in a garden — they were on a stream bank. Specifically, they were on the bank alongside Richland Creek at Vance Street Park in Waynesville. 

“We try to take every little piece out,” Romaniszyn said, yanking a clump of Japanese knotweed roots out of the dirt and stowing them in the trash bag by his side.

Troops rally to fight off invasive species

More than 300 Macon County students and others interested in the natural landscape will attend Invasive Species Awareness Day from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday, April 2, on the Little Tennessee River Greenway in Franklin.

Learn about how exotic species are a scourge on the native mountain ecosystem and what can be done to combat them.

This educational get-together is part of  N.C. Invasive Plant Awareness Week, an opportunity to teach identification, control and prevention of exotic invasive plants and animals in natural areas. The event is hosted by the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee and Friends of the Greenway.  

Experts from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Watershed Association of the Tuckasegee River, Western North Carolina Alliance and others will host educational displays, give brief presentations and answer questions about exotic invasive plants, insects, mammals, fish and aquatic invertebrates. Weed-eating goats will also be on the greenway to demonstrate a natural method for removing exotic invasive plants. Additional topics to be covered include the importance of streamside buffers for water quality, methods of native habitat restoration and the benefits of healthy forest soils.

A rain date is set for Wednesday, April 4.

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