USDA Local Working Group Meeting December 4th

Help your local NRCS office determine how to spend USDA Farm Bill money: Attend Local Working Group Meetings!

Waldo and Knox County Conservation Districts, in cooperation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), invite the public to attend the USDA Local Working Group meeting on Wednesday, December 4th, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the Searsmont Town Office located at 37 Main St. S, Searsmont.

The Local Working Group will provide recommendations for the 2021 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to their local USDA/NRCS for local natural resource priorities and criteria for conservation activities and programs. Topics of discussion will include: Ag Waste, Forestry, Pastureland, Cropland, and Blueberry Fields. Other issues and areas of concern can be discussed as well, and a list will be compiled of priorities recognized by this group. Refreshments will be provided.

For more information, if you would like to attend, or if you need accommodations to attend, please contact the Waldo County Soil & Water Conservation District at:  jenny.jurdak@me.nacdnet.net 218-5311, or Knox-Lincoln Soil & Water Conservation District at: hildy@knox-lincoln.org 596-2040.

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Join Maine Farmland Trust for “Support Working Landscapes: Info and Resources for Belfast Area Farmland and Woodland Owners”

Monday, December 9th, 6-8PM, Abbott Room at the Belfast Free Library

Are you a Belfast area farmer, farmland owner, woodlot owner, or municipal representative? Join us for an evening of information and resources for farmland and woodlot owners, including:

The nuts and bolts of Farmland and Tree Growth Current Use Property Tax Programs:

  • How to enroll, what to know, and how these programs can help you meet your land use goals. Helpful information for both those already enrolled and for those who are thinking about enrolling.
  • Presenters: Stephanie Gilbert and Morten Moesswilde, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

An update about commercial solar development on farmland in Maine and considerations for farmers and farmland owners

  • Presenter: Ellen Stern Griswold, Maine Farmland Trust

This event is free and open to all. Refreshments will be provided.

Please RSVP HERE. Questions about RSVP’ing? Email Rachel, rkeidan@mainefarmlandtrust.org or call the MFT office, 207.338.6575

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.