Invasive Species Spotlight – Now is the Time to Spot Invasive Plants!

As a part of our work for landowners, WCSW staff and volunteers spend time helping them find invasive plants on their land and plan for controlling them. Late fall is our favorite time to survey for invasives in fact, because at the end of October and early in November, many invasive plants stand out like a sore thumb. When most of our native woody plants have shed their leaves, several of our most troublesome invasives still have theirs and so are easily seen. In fact, the longer period many of these plants keep their leaves gives them a growth advantage over our native plants. Take a look at these photos. In each, the invasive plants have yellow leaves while natives are bare. Asiatic (or oriental) bittersweet, a vine, can be seen climbing trees as towers of yellow leaves, and with the characteristic orange and red berries used for fall decorations in the past. Instead of using bittersweet berries, you can decorate with the bright orange and red berries of winterberry holly, a native shrub that lives near wet areas.  Keep in mind, it is now illegal to sell decorations with Asiastic bittersweet berries on them.

Exotic honeysuckle shrubs in early November

A common invader of forest understories in Midcoast Maine is the exotic shrub honeysuckle, of which there are several species, all equally destructive. They can grow so prolifically that trees cannot regenerate under them. If you look around now and see a forest understory of shrubs with yellow leaves, it may be exotic honeysuckle, or perhaps glossy buckthorn, a small tree that also keeps its leaves into the late fall. As far as larger trees go, our native oaks are still sporting some red to brown leaves now, but most other native trees are bare, so the bright yellow and orange leaves of the invasive Norway maple really stand out. Japanese knotweed keeps its leaves into the late fall as well, and its bare reddish stems can be seen standing all winter.

Japanese knotweed still has green leaves in November.
Invasive Norway maples have most of their leaves in early November.

After you’ve checked around for invasives, you can call us for management advice. We can visit your property and write up recommendations for how to rid your land of these plants which reduce natural diversity, timber regeneration and wildlife habitat quality. If you are eligible for NRCS EQIP programs, you also qualify for free invasive plant management plans.

Report a Tree Program is Now Live!

Use our new online tool to tell us about how your trees are doing. We are assessing trees in Maine that may or are experiencing changes due to disease, invasive insects or other environmental stressors such as climate change. The project will also help us look at tree species that may be suitable for assisted migration or adaptive planting as the climate changes or trees are lost to invasive insects. Ultimately, this project will provide valuable data that may help scientists plan projects to restore forests in Maine.

To report on trees you have planted or are growing near you, please fill out our form here (simple registration on the site, then join our project “Report a Tree,” also on the Anecdata phone app):

https://www.anecdata.org/projects/view/623

If you are interested in planting any of the trees listed to assist us with this study, let us know. We’d like to have people report on seedlings and saplings they are growing as a part of this research. We will be able to order some of these trees for you to purchase at our plant sale in the spring.

Some Trees to Report On:

  • Ash trees  (for signs of emerald ash borer)
  • Hemlock trees  (for signs of hemlock woolly adelgid)
  • Beech trees  (for clear beech that don’t appear to have beech bark disease)
  • American chestnut  (for larger trees that appear to be free of disease)
  • American elm  (for larger trees that appear to be free of disease)

Also for forest adaptation research, please tell us how any of these trees are doing if growing in your area:

  • Tulip poplar
  • White oak
  • Chestnut oak
  • Sweetgum
  • Black walnut
  • Shagbark hickory
  • Black gum (Tupelo)
  • Pawpaw

You can return to the Report a Tree tab at the top of our home page to report on trees in the future.

Fish Lead Free! Free Tackle Exchanges Offered in 2020

Lead commonly found in fishing tackle is highly toxic, and hazardous to humans, wildlife and the environment. Wildlife species are affected by ingesting lead fishing tackle, particularly the common loon. Loon bodies and behavior make them susceptible to lead poisoning.

Fortunately, non-toxic alternatives to lead tackle are available and are often superior in performance to lead tackle. You can help by changing to lead free fishing tackle today!  At our Tackle Exchanges, you can swap your lead tackle for new non-toxic tackle for free!  The tackle exchanges will be held next spring through fall at various Waldo County lakes, usually at the boat launch. Watch our website for next year’s Fish Lead Free Tackle Exchanges. Free fishing kits for children will be available first come, first served.

The program  isn’t necessarily a one-for-one exchange, but there will be a great variety of  non-toxic tackle to try, and no one will go home empty-handed!  What better time than right now to clean out your tackle box, making  fishing safer for you, your children, and Maine’s wildlife?  Contact our District office to  learn more about the program.

Save the Date! Our Annual Dinner and a talk on Growing Hemp in Maine, October 25th

Since the Farm Bill was signed into law last December, farmers have been entering the hemp growing business in droves. In Midcoast Maine, where the economics of farming have made it challenging to stay in traditional crops and animal production, hemp has shown potential to keep farmers in business, or to diversify and strengthen their operations. Industrial hemp offers the possibility of producing multiple products, from fiber and biomass to CBD oil, which is extracted from hemp plants and does not produce a high. It is marketed for everything from pain relief to reducing inflammation and stress and is sold in products from topical oils to pet food and granola.

If you would like to learn about how Maine farmers are getting into hemp growing and exploring the economic possibilities of the crop, please join us for a fascinating evening discussing the topic. We will have Midcoast farmer Susan Hunter presenting her first year of setting up her farm for growing organic hemp and harvesting her first crop, along with a slide show of the whole season’s work. She’ll talk about the practical aspects of starting up with investors who are partners in the operation, as well as the ins and outs of creating infrastructure including a greenhouse, irrigation, and compost tea to use on the crops. Finding markets for hemp products such as fiber and CBD oil will be discussed. The talk will also include a roundtable of expert growers to add to our conversation, and is part of Waldo County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Annual Dinner. Cost for dinner and the event is only $10 and supports the Soil and Water Conservation District and the Waldo County Tech Center’s culinary training program.

Join us Friday, October 25th at 6pm, at the Waldo County Tech Center Café, on Route 137 in Waldo.

The talk will follow an Annual Dinner offered by Waldo County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Friday, October 25, Dinner 6pm, Talk at 6:30.

Waldo County Technical Center, Route 137, Waldo, ME   Map

Cost $10. Dinner Provided by WCTC Culinary Arts Program.

RSVP Here! (Walk ins accepted)