Invasive species, also known as exotics, are plants, animals, insects, and aquatic species introduced into non-native habitats. Without natural predators or threats, these introduced species then multiply.
Often,invasive species travel to non-native areas by ship, either in ballast water released into harbors or attached to the sides of boats. From there, introduced species can then spread and significantly alter ecosystems and the natural food chain as they go. Another example of non-native species introduction is the dumping of aquarium fish into waterways.
Invasive species also put water conveyance systems at risk. Water pumps and other infrastructure can potentially shut down due to large numbers of invasive species.
Besides choking out much-loved natives such as the golden poppy, which is the state flower, Ward’s weed is a wildfire hazard. Each year it dies off and turns into a brown mass of thin, dry brush, like a tiny tumbleweed, that can go up in flames with a spark.
The tall, bamboo-like plants clustered in dense thickets along sections of the Salinas River in the Salinas Valley have long attracted the attention of those who have strolled in that area. Green and stately with long, sword-like leaves, they belong to a species known as Arundo donax, or more commonly, giant cane. … But the plant is a nuisance and local officials have decided to do something about it.
An invasive bamboo-like species called arundo is encumbering the natural ecology of the Salinas River and increasing flood risk to nearby farmland. But the conservation agency charged with protecting the area recently secured nearly $3 million from state coffers for the purpose of fighting the invasion.
Bay Area anglers say they are pleased California State Parks is drastically reducing the number of sites treated with pesticides on the grass and weed-choked Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. … The move to reduce spraying and pelleting on parts of the Delta this year comes in the wake of last year’s increased use of pesticides that anglers’s claim wiped out the weeds, but also killed dozens of beavers, fish, turtles and other wildlife.
Conservationists and weekend volunteers have toiled in the Bolsa Chica Wetlands for years, weeding out invasive plants and replanting native vegetation squeezed out by the invaders. … Now, these wildlife custodians are expanding their botanical battle across Pacific Coast Highway to the sand dunes of Bolsa Chica State Beach. After all, no matter how many enemy plants are removed from the wetlands, ocean winds will carry more seeds from non-native plants growing in the dunes.
For the past year the state’s worked to eradicate the rodents for a second time. The rodents were brought to California in the 1900s for the fur trade and fur farming. “[The] challenge is we keep looking and we keep finding more nutria,” said Peter Tira with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “However, we do know there’s about 1.8 million acres of suitable nutria habitat. This is the largest nutria eradication ever attempted in the United States.”
On our Bay-Delta Tour June 5-7, participants will hear from a diverse group of experts including water managers, environmentalists, farmers, engineers and scientists who will offer various perspectives on a proposed tunnel project that would carry water beneath the Delta, efforts to revitalize the Delta and risks that threaten its delicate ecological balance.
A pilot program that used ultraviolet light to combat aquatic invasive plants has shown promising results. Results from the program, which was deployed in Lakeside Marina in the summer of 2017, show the use of ultraviolet-C light successfully killed submerged aquatic plants, according to the Tahoe Resource Conservation District.
More than 400 nutria have been captured in the first year of an effort to eradicate the invasive South American rodent from California. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife said Monday the semi-aquatic rodents were trapped in five counties in the San Joaquin Valley. Nutria are an agricultural pest, destroy wetlands critical to native wildlife and threaten water delivery and flood control infrastructure through destructive burrowing.
Any new path on California water must bring Delta community and fishing interests to the table. We have solutions to offer. We live with the impacts of state water management decisions from loss of recreation to degradation of water quality to collapsing fisheries. For example, how can new and improved technology be employed to track real time management of fisheries?
In California, [Jerry] Schubel saw an opportunity to turn the energy, food and water issues facing the state into a sustainable model showing how people can live in harmony with the Earth and the ocean, and thrive. That model required deep collaboration, a commitment to educational resources for the public and an aquarium willing to take a risk.
A pilot program that used ultraviolet light to combat aquatic invasive plants has shown promising results. Results from the program, which was deployed in Lakeside Marina in the summer of 2017, show the use of ultraviolet-C light successfully killed submerged aquatic plants, according to the Tahoe Resource Conservation District.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has been battling the destructive Nutria for two years. State biologists believe it will be another three years before they win the war against the pesky rodent. The nutria is considered a triple threat to Valley wetlands, agriculture and water delivery systems.
They are a semiaquatic South American rodent a bit smaller than a beaver. Females can give birth three times a year and have up to 12 babies each litter. They are really good at tearing up crops, burrowing tunnels into levees, and other destructive behavior that is tough on farmers. And they’ve been discovered in California’s San Joaquin Valley, a major food-producing area.
What better way to decompress from a stressful federal government job than by trekking 2,600 miles on foot from Mexico to Canada? That’s what Jared Blumenfeld, the new head of the California Environmental Protection Agency, did three years ago, setting out on the arduous and beloved Pacific Crest Trail that traces California’s searing deserts, rugged mountains and sparkling coastline.
One tunnel or two, neither idea adds a drop of the water to needs of the nearly 40 million people who call California home. The tunnels simply divert existing water supplies while putting in severe jeopardy the largest freshwater estuary west of the Mississippi River, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta that juts into the western edge of Stockton. Clearly, there must be better solutions. Three approaches leap to mind: storage, conservation and desalination.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture, working in cooperation with the Shasta County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, has eradicated two hydrilla infestations within the cities of Redding and Anderson, ending a quarantine that began on July 18, 1996. Hydrilla, an invasive aquatic weed, was last detected in Shasta County in 2006.
Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said … the agency intends to work constructively with the Newsom administration on developing a WaterFix project “that addresses the needs of cities, farms and the environment.” But Kightlinger expressed frustration that the project will be delayed even more.
At long last, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta twin-tunnels boondoggle is dead. Good riddance. Gov. Gavin Newsom made that official Tuesday during his State of the State address, calling instead for a smaller, single-tunnel approach that would include a broad range of projects designed to increase the state’s water supply. Bravo. It’s a refreshing shift from Gov. Jerry Brown’s stubborn insistence that California spend $19 billion on a project that wouldn’t add a drop of new water to the state supply.
Two experts from Stanford’s Water in the West program explain the potential impacts on the future of water in California of the proposed plan to downsize the $17 billion Delta twin tunnels project. … Leon Szeptycki, executive director of Stanford’s Water in the West program, and Timothy Quinn, the Landreth Visiting Fellow at Water in the West, discussed the future of water in California and potential impacts of a tunnel system.
In a major shift in one of the largest proposed public works projects in state history, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday announced he does not support former Gov. Jerry Brown’s $19 billion plan to build two massive tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to make it easier to move water from the north to the south. “Let me be direct about where I stand,” Newsom said. “I do not support the twin tunnels. But we can build on the important work that’s already been done. That’s why I do support a single tunnel.”
The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District today approved the lease agreement, which will last 30 years after an initial 3-year period set aside for vetting and permitting the company. … But some fishermen and other county residents voiced skepticism about how closely the company has been vetted, as well as criticism of the district’s swift decision to sign onto the lease.
California’s San Joaquin River Delta is in danger of being overrun by voracious beagle-sized rodents. The state has a plan to deal with them, but it’s going to take a lot of time and money. Nutria, a large South American rodent, have become an invasive species in several states, including Louisiana, Maryland and Oregon.
An assortment of groups … joined the legal fray in courts over the State Water Board decision in December to reduce water diversions for farms and cities from the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers. The emotions leading up to the Dec. 12 decision have touched off debate on what exactly could restore a severely impaired delta estuary and depleted salmon populations and what it will cost for Central Valley communities.
While campaigning for president in 2016, Donald Trump promised a cheering Fresno crowd he would be “opening up the water” for Central Valley farmers… Trump took one of the most aggressive steps to date to fulfill that promise Tuesday by proposing to relax environmental regulations governing how water is shared between fish and human uses throughout the Central Valley.
Despite many high priority issues on his plate, one of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first tests will be how he deals with California’s water challenges and opportunities. Unfortunately, in the last days of his term Gov. Jerry Brown made a bad bargain with the Trump administration and special interests. It’s yet another mess for the new governor to mop up.
Details of the Sacramento River portion of the SWRCB’s plan are still preliminary, but we expect the required water releases to be higher for the Sacramento River, and its tributaries, than they are for the San Joaquin River. SWRCB staff is currently recommending that between 45 and 65 percent of the natural runoff of northern California rivers be allowed to flow to the ocean unimpeded.
The nutria invasion of California continues. Greg Gerstenberg, a biologist and nutria operations chief with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said 372 nutria had been trapped in the state as of Jan. 10. Bruce Blodgett, executive director of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation, wants farmers and others who maintain levees to be aware.
Water issues are notoriously difficult for California governors. Just look at former Gov. Jerry Brown’s floundering tunnels proposal for the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Yet two factors suggest that Gov. Gavin Newsom must make water a priority.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District made a grave miscalculation in suing the State Water Board over the Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan. By alienating the remnants of the environmental community who have supported them in recent years, they are jeopardizing future projects and funding measures that will require voter approval.
A Dallas-based engineering firm is being tapped to help design California’s plan to bolster its water supply system. Jacobs’ initial $93 million contract is for preliminary and final engineering design of a 15-year program known as California WaterFix. The Golden State’s largest water conveyance project carries a $17 billion pricetag. WaterFix, slated to begin this year, will upgrade 50-year-old infrastructure dependent on levees, which the state said puts clean water supplies at risk from earthquakes and sea-level rise.
In an unprecedented move, the Water Resources Control board voted in December to require water users to leave more water in the lower San Joaquin River to improve water quality and help fish. “This decision represents the water board taking its job to protect the public trust and our fisheries more seriously,” said Regina Chichizola, salmon and water policy analyst for the Institute for Fisheries Resources.
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman today named Ernest A. Conant director of the Mid-Pacific Region. Conant has nearly 40 years of water law experience and previously served as senior partner of Young Wooldridge, LLP.
The State Water Resources Control Board has proposed flow requirements for rivers that feed the Delta based on a percentage of ‘unimpaired flows… If approved, this ‘unimpaired flows’ approach would have significant impacts on farms, communities throughout California and the environment. We join many other water agencies in our belief that alternative measures …
Since taking office Jan. 7, Gov. Gavin Newsom has not indicated how he intends to approach one of the state’s most pressing issues: water. Newsom should signal that it’s a new day in California water politics by embracing a more-sustainable water policy that emphasizes conservation and creation of vast supplies of renewable water. The first step should be to announce the twin-tunnels effort is dead.
Citing what they say would be a disastrous decision for the region, the Oakdale and South San Joaquin Irrigation Districts have joined with other members of the San Joaquin Tributaries Authority (SJTA) in a lawsuit challenging the state’s right to arbitrarily increase flows in the Stanislaus and two other rivers.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today released the Delta Conservation Framework as a comprehensive resource and guide for conservation planning in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta through 2050. The framework provides a template for regional and stakeholder-led approaches to restoring ecosystem functions to the Delta landscape.
After more than three years, 104 days of testimony, and over twenty-four thousand pages of hearing transcripts, the hearing before the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) on the proposal to construct two tunnels to convey water under the Delta (aka California WaterFix) is almost completed. Probably, that is: there could be more if the project changes again to a degree that requires additional testimony and/or environmental review.
The confluence of California’s two great rivers, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, creates the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas. Those of us who live here call it, simply, the Delta. It is part of my very fiber, and it is essential to California’s future. That’s why we must save it.
In an attempt to block the state’s plan to divert more water toward the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and away from the Bay Area, the Santa Clara Valley Water District has filed a lawsuit arguing the project could significantly reduce the local water supply. If the plan advances, the water district might have to spend millions of dollars to obtain alternate water supplies and pull up more groundwater.
The State Water Resources Control Board proved back on Dec. 12 that it wasn’t listening to a single thing anyone from our region was saying. By voting to impose draconian and scientifically unjustifiable water restrictions on our region, four of the five board members tuned out dozens of scientists, water professionals and people who live near the rivers.
Mount, a senior fellow at the Water Policy Center at the Public Policy Institute of California, spoke recently about managing freshwater systems with ecosystem water budgets. “I will argue that drought, because of the way we have modified this system, is the major bottleneck ecologically,” he said. “Step 1 has to be thinking about drought: how to mitigate drought and how to deal with drought – that is plan for, respond to, and recover from drought. We don’t do that at all, even though we just had this big drought.”
Jon Rosenfield: Last month the State Water Resources Control Board finally required increased flows from three San Joaquin River tributaries, as the first step in a process to update water quality standards for the San Francisco Bay estuary. The board opted for weaker environmental protections in order to reduce impacts to agribusiness and San Francisco, ignoring the potential for changed agricultural practices and investment in sustainable water use to ease or eliminate the impact of reduced water diversions.
The growing leadership of women in water. The Colorado River’s persistent drought and efforts to sign off on a plan to avert worse shortfalls of water from the river. And in California’s Central Valley, promising solutions to vexing water resource challenges.
These were among the topics that Western Water news explored in 2018.
We’re already planning a full slate of stories for 2019. You can sign up here to be alerted when new stories are published. In the meantime, take a look at what we dove into in 2018:
In 2014, plant biologists with the California Department of Agriculture reported an alarming discovery: native wildflowers and herbs, grown in nurseries and then planted in ecological restoration sites around California, were infected with Phytophthora tentaculata, a deadly exotic plant pathogen that causes root and stem rot. While ecologists have long been wary of exotic plant pathogens borne on imported ornamental plants, this was the first time in California that these microorganisms had been found in native plants used in restoration efforts.
Prompted by the collapse of fish populations, the State Water Resources Control Board is trying to prevent humans from totally drying up these rivers each year. The regulators’ lodestar for how much water the rivers need is the amount of water a Chinook salmon needs to migrate.
The report issued by California’s State Water Resources Control Board marks a key step in a decade-long effort to remove four hydroelectric dams and restore the health of the Klamath River. The dam-removal project is part of a broader effort by California, Oregon, federal agencies, Klamath Basin tribes, water users and conservation organizations to revitalize the basin, advance recovery of fisheries, uphold trust responsibilities to the tribes, and sustain the region’s farming and ranching heritage.
Merced County sweet potato farmer Stan Silva hadn’t even heard the word “nutria” until a few months ago. He’s still never seen one, but he’s worried about the damage these 20-pound rodents with big orange buck teeth could do in California if they’re not eradicated. “It would be devastating,” Silva says. “They can basically ruin the ag industry here — they get in your fields, burrow into your canal ways, your waterways.” They can also tear up crops and levees, making the state’s water infrastructure more vulnerable.
The U.S. Senate approved a compromise policy Wednesday on dumping ship ballast water in coastal ports and the Great Lakes, a practice blamed for spreading invasive species that damage the environment and the economy. The plan, part of a $10.6 billion Coast Guard budget authorization bill, includes provisions sought by environmentalists as well as the cargo shipping industry.
The tiny black dots on the soggy leaf that Emily King plucked out of Mount Diablo Creek the other day did not look very threatening, but the UC Berkeley biologist knows well how looks can be deceiving. King, 25, has spent the past year and a half studying the smaller-than-tick-size specks, a dreaded sight for researchers familiar with what an infestation of New Zealand mud snails looks like.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife hit a milestone in its ongoing efforts to control the state’s nutria infestation on Friday morning when they successfully trapped Nutria number 300 at a pond in Merced County. … The department is currently expanding its operations in San Joaquin County, and is concerned by several reports of nutria on the doorstep of the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, a critical region for California’s agricultural infrastructure.
Having been hauled thousands of miles from across the country, a pontoon boat bound for a weekend on Lake Tahoe pulls into the Alpine Meadows Watercraft Inspection Station. It’s one of roughly 8,000 motorized vessels that were inspected during this past boating season, and one of more than 5,000 that did not meet Lake Tahoe’s Water Inspection Program’s standards of being clean, drained and dry.
For years, state boats have sprayed thousands of pounds of herbicides into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to kill invasive aquatic weeds. And, for years, California officials have insisted they closely monitor their chemical use to protect the ecologically fragile estuary and the drinking and irrigation water the Delta supplies to millions of Californians. A pending court case casts fresh doubt on those claims.
The intense drought in the Southwest is threatening Colorado water supplies beyond just the lack of rainfall. State wildlife officials report a record number of boats carrying invasive mussels coming into Colorado from out of state. And the arid summer and winter could be to blame.
Blindly feeling along a section of fabric mat underneath the water’s surface at Lakeside Marina, a diver grabs a U-shaped piece of rebar and begins hammering away. At only a handful of feet below the water’s surface visibility drops to zero, making work difficult, but it’s an essential job in what could be a vital piece in the puzzle to solve Lake Tahoe’s aquatic invasive species problem.
Wading into the water along the rocky shore off Aramburu Island in Richardson Bay, Brian Cheng reached 3 feet under water and pulled up an algae-covered rock. “Here we go,” he yelled as he splashed ashore soaking wet and pointed out a tiny snail on the underside of the rock. “And, we got a bonus,” he said, gesturing toward a cluster of yellow gelatinous egg capsules.
Since 2010, Boating and Waterways has put more than 14,000 gallons of Roundup into the Delta, according to a McClatchy review of data provided by the agency. The Roundup treatments are part of a concerted effort to kill nonnative aquatic plants, which have become so pervasive in the Delta that NASA scientists can see them from space.
An 8-year-old chocolate Labrador named Popeye is patrolling Lake Nacimiento this weekend, using his sensitive sniffer to protect the reservoir from a dangerous invader. He and his friends — Nemo, Captain, Noah and Sinbad — are the Mussel Dogs, a group of Labs, a mutt and a German Shepard specially trained to inspect boats for invasive species and protect California’s waterways from quagga and zebra mussels.
Nearly three months ago, a Delta farmer from Roberts Island delivered the carcass of a dead nutria to the desk of Tim Pelican, San Joaquin County’s agricultural commissioner. It was the first of two nutria discovered in the county in April.
An invading army of moths is stripping the leaves from aspen trees around Lake Tahoe, and state officials are seeking the public’s help to document the problem. White satin moths are a non-native defoliator of aspens, cottonwoods, willows and other trees.
Sixty percent of California’s developed water supply originates high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our water supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests, which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought, wildfires and widespread tree mortality.
We headed into the foothills and the mountains to examine water issues that happen upstream but have dramatic impacts downstream and throughout the state.
GEI (Tour Starting Point)
2868 Prospect Park Dr.
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670.
DNA analysis confirmed this week that stowaway shellfish intercepted at the Lake Mendocino boat ramp early this month were invasive quagga mussels, as initially feared. The finding by state Fish and Wildlife personnel validates just how close the region came to confronting a destructive scourge.
For more than 100 years, invasive species have made the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta their home, disrupting the ecosystem and costing millions of dollars annually in remediation. The latest invader is the nutria, a large rodent native to South America that causes concern because of its propensity to devour every bit of vegetation in sight and destabilize levees by burrowing into them. Wildlife officials are trapping the animal and trying to learn the extent of its infestation.
A specially trained dog named Noah is receiving well-deserved praise after preventing a mussel-infested watercraft from launching Saturday in Lake Mendocino — a frighteningly close call that public officials say underscores the need for long-delayed, full-time measures to protect regional reservoirs and critical infrastructure from exposure to the destructive organisms.
For more than 100 years, invasive species have made the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta their home, disrupting the ecosystem and costing millions of dollars annually in remediation.
The latest invader is the nutria, a large rodent native to South America that causes concern because of its propensity to devour every bit of vegetation in sight and destabilize levees by burrowing into them. Wildlife officials are trapping the animal and trying to learn the extent of its infestation.
For more than 100 years, invasive species have made the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta their home, disrupting the ecosystem and costing millions of dollars annually in remediation. … Even though invasive plants and animals long have been known to exist in California’ water hub, tracking their extent in an area as large as the Delta — 738,000 acres — is an uneven task that could benefit from greater coordination and funding, a panel of experts recently told the Delta Independent Science Board.
Lake Tahoe continues to be a test site for new technology aimed at controlling aquatic invasive plants. The latest example is the use of a device called a “bubble curtain” in the Tahoe Keys neighborhood, according to the League to Save Lake Tahoe, which is working with the Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association to combat invasive plants that have overrun the channels in the keys.
We traveled deep into California’s water hub and traverse the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals that supports the state’s water system and is California’s most crucial water and ecological resource. The tour made its way to San Francisco Bay, and included a ferry ride.
Before the midday heat had set in, Jeff Cann and Tim Kroeker were out of their Dodge pickup, trudging through waist-deep water in waders and rubber boots. The two wildlife biologists had come to this vast expanse of sun-soaked Central Valley wetlands on a recent morning to check in on the first traps that California has authorized in its nascent effort to hunt — and exterminate — the nutria.
The organism, responsible for the catastrophic decline of the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog and 200 other species, emerged from East Asia in the early 1900s and is spreading by the pet trade and the expansion of global trade, according to an international research consortium of 38 different institutions.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has reached an agreement with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to provide $1 million in federal funding to help combat invasive aquatic species that harm the health and clarity of Lake Tahoe.
The “triple threat” of invasive rodent species has made its way to the edge of the delta, officials said, putting the state’s fragile water infrastructure at risk. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife said Tuesday that it had discovered the nutria, a large rat-like mammal that inhabits wet, rural areas, on agricultural land west of Stockton.
The destructive invasive swamp rodents known as nutria are officially on the doorstep of one of the state’s most critically important waterways. State wildlife officials announced Tuesday that a nutria was killed on agricultural land west of Stockton in San Joaquin County.
About the size of a beagle, they can quickly turn a lush green marsh to a wasteland. … They are called nutria, and right now they’re starting to spread through the waterways leading into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the ecologically fragile network of sloughs and rivers that functions as the heart of California’s flood-control and water distribution system.
Last winter’s drought-busting wet weather was a boon for reservoirs and parched landscapes, but not so much for some invasive species in San Francisco Bay, according to a long-term study by Tiburon-based researchers. All that fresh water that poured into the bay was bad news for certain invaders, which have turned up in droves in recent decades from around the world, often in ships’ ballast water.
Tahoe Resource Conservation District is three years into a long-term aquatic invasive species eradication project on the Truckee River — and the progress is encouraging. TRCD is working to eliminate Eurasian watermilfoil from a 3-mile stretch of the Truckee River, starting above the Tahoe City dam and continuing down to Alpine Meadows Road.
This tour travels deep into California’s water hub and traverses the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a 720,000-acre network of islands and canals that supports the state’s water system and is California’s most crucial water and ecological resource. The tour will make its way to San Francisco Bay and includes a ferry ride.
Governors of 19 Western states are pressing the federal government to do more to prevent the spread of damage-causing invasive mussels from infected federally managed waterways. … The governors say they’re particularly concerned about the mussels reaching the Columbia River Basin, Lake Tahoe, and the Colorado River Basin above Lake Powell.
For months, regional water officials were prevented from recharging drought-depleted water basins in the San Gabriel Valley and southeast Los Angeles County because they feared an infestation of an invasive shellfish that could destroy local ecosystems.
Like a scene in a horror movie where the evil creature keeps coming back, invasive green crabs in the Seadrift Lagoon at Stinson Beach just won’t seem to die. … Green crabs are native to Europe and were introduced in the early 1800s to the East Coast of the United States, and finally made their way to San Francisco Bay in the late 1980s, possibly via ballast water in ships.
There’s an invasion plaguing the coastal waters of Southern California. Waves of tiny interlopers spark havoc at fisheries, clog municipal water pipes and frustrate boaters who must dislodge buckets of sea crud.
Estuaries are places where fresh and salt water mix, usually at the point where a river enters the ocean. They are the meeting point between riverine environments and the sea, with a combination of tides, waves, salinity, fresh water flow and sediment. The constant churning means there are elevated levels of nutrients, making estuaries highly productive natural habitats.
With a blue bandanna tucked under his hat and draped across his neck to protect him from the sun, Gordon Fidler of Palm Desert walked slowly over the terrain at Joshua Tree National Park, eyes peeled for tumble mustard – a weed invading an area of Keys View and threatening the natural wildlife. … Invasive plants – or weeds – create fire hazards, crowd out native plants and consume water and nutrients, depleting food sources for the habitat such as the desert tortoise.
A troublesome invasive species is the quagga mussel, a tiny freshwater mollusk that attaches itself to water utility infrastructure and reproduces at a rapid rate, causing damage to pipes and pumps.
First found in the Great Lakes in 1988 (dumped with ballast water from overseas ships), the quagga mussel along with the zebra mussel are native to the rivers and lakes of eastern Europe and western Asia, including the Black, Caspian and Azov Seas and the Dneiper River drainage of Ukraine and Ponto-Caspian Sea.
Pyramid Lake is now infested with ecosystem-altering Quagga Mussels after state officials found six of the non-native freshwater mollusks Thursday in a tunnel that connects the lake with another body of water along the state’s water delivery system.
After several years of unrelenting hyacinth invasions each fall, it’s as if someone has finally peeled back that green shag carpet and returned Stockton’s rivers to its people. … And there is a general sense that a coordinated effort by state and federal officials — along with a bit of help from Mother Nature — is starting to make a difference.
It was a good plan: Bring in hungry beetles that feed only on nonnative salt cedar trees to get a handle on a hardy, invasive species that was crowding riverbanks across the West and leaching precious water from the drought-stricken region.
Two types of yellow-legged frogs, and a kind of toad found in Yosemite National Park, won extra protection Thursday when federal authorities declared nearly 3,000 square miles in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains as critical habitat for the endangered animals.
California wildlife agencies say the drought has pushed the endangered Delta smelt close to extinction. State and federal agencies announced Tuesday a joint effort to improve habitat conditions for the fish.
Saying they wanted to go beyond what they’ve done in the past, state officials resumed water hyacinth removal efforts at the downtown Stockton waterfront earlier than normal on Wednesday with the blessing of federal biologists.
For [J.D.] Richey and the anglers, it was a successful weekday outing, resulting in a bounty of fish dinners to come. More broadly, the scene put them smack in the center of yet another Central Valley river conflict, one that pits “good” fish against “bad” fish, farmers against anglers, and without enough fresh water to allow them all to thrive.
When the Tahoe Keys were created in the 1960s they became Lake Tahoe’s largest commercial marina. … It’s possible that no one could have foreseen that those warm, shallow channels would one day be home to Tahoe’s most dense population of invasive species.
Eleven years ago, it was a major threat to San Francisco Bay. A fast-growing, non-native plant that spread in dense thickets up to 7 feet tall was exploding out of control, overrunning wetlands, threatening birds, wildlife and even the public’s view of the water.
Water hyacinth, the invasive water weed that carpets San Joaquin Delta channels in the warm season, choking out native species, degrading water quality, blocking recreational boaters and interfering with commercial ship traffic, holds promise as a biofuel.
The discovery of an invasive mudsnail downstream of the Table Mountain Boulevard bridge in Oroville, has prompted state officials to urge Feather River users to decontaminate equipment. … Officials are also setting up decontamination protocols to keep the mudsnails from entering the nearby Feather River Fish Hatchery.
Tuolumne County has received a $70.4 million grant to restore part of the Rim fire zone, build a plant that turns wood into energy and building materials, and create a center for job training and other services.
An invasive species of snail that is able to self-reproduce by the hundreds and outcompete native species has been discovered for the first time in Humboldt State University’s College Creek, and there is no known method to stop its exponential spread.
The Delta’s floating green menace has now forced the city of Stockton to close its largest boat launch, another sign that this year’s water hyacinth invasion is just as nasty — if not more so — than last year’s.
Monday’s announcement was a blow for those hoping that an extra $4 million dedicated to hyacinth control efforts and a more aggressive schedule for applying herbicides would lead to noticeable improvement in 2015.
A federal appeals court ordered the government Monday to rewrite its regulations on ballast water discharges from ships, one of the leading culprits in the spread of invasive species across U.S. waterways.
[Gary] Rogers, 72, is a first responder of sorts in the war on water hyacinth. He patrols the Delta several times a week, investigating those backwater sloughs where the alien scourge is known to incubate.
Montana, Wyoming, Washington, Oregon and Idaho are the only states in the West still free of invasive quagga and zebra mussels. State officials want desperately to keep the mussels out of blue-ribbon trout streams and pristine mountain lakes.
The $250,000 plan, sponsored by the Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association (TKPOA), released on Tuesday for comment, tackles an issue that other methods during the past 25 years have failed to address to remove non-native invasive species that choke parts of the Tahoe Keys lagoons.
Federal agriculture officials are spending nearly $60 million this year to help combat the beetles, bollworms and other bugs that have the potential to wreak havoc on American crops, with California and Florida taking the biggest share.
Reclamation has released for public review environmental documents for the proposed zebra mussel eradication project for San Justo Reservoir, the Hollister Conduit and the San Benito County Water District’s distribution system. The proposed treatment is to use potash which has been shown to be effective in killing zebra mussels.
U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has released the initial plan for a new wildfire-fighting strategy to protect a wide swath of intermountain West sagebrush country that supports cattle ranching and is home to a struggling bird species.
A 300-yard stretch of the Tuolumne River near Hughson shows one of the many impacts of the ongoing drought. The river is thick with water hyacinth, a plant that chokes the flow to the point where it looks like you could walk across it.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency on Friday asked Nevada lawmakers to support Gov. Brian Sandoval’s recommended budget to fund a total of $750,000 a year to protect Lake Tahoe from invasive aquatic species.
Government-sanctioned tests of equipment designed to cleanse ship ballast water of invasive species are seriously flawed because they don’t determine whether the systems will remove microbes that cause gastrointestinal illnesses, scientists said Wednesday.
Goodness gracious, politicians and state officials are abuzz these days about the water hyacinth problem in the Delta waters around Stockton. … Which begs the questions: Where was this fervent reaction in 2013? And 2012? And 2011? And 2010?
Recent storms have mostly cleared Stockton waterways that were hijacked by hyacinth the past two months, but officials at a standing-room-only town hall meeting Monday said it’s important to stay focused on the future.
The lake of [Jay] Hall’s memory is dead, its salmon all but vanished in the past decade – a collapse so swift that fisheries biologists have likened it to driving off a cliff. For a brief few decades, those biologists had turned this Great Lake into a Pacific chinook factory, taking a wildly popular sport fish from faraway ocean waters and setting it loose to gorge upon the swarms of invasive alewives that had decimated native fish species.
The earthquake and tsunami that devastated a large part of Japan almost four years ago is still causing trouble, not only for Japan, of course, but also for the Northwest coastline. The biggest threat isn’t radioactive particles from the Fukushima power plant meltdown, though some has recently shown up on this side of the Pacific, but potential invasive species hitching a ride on debris that’s been out in the ocean these few years.
State officials said the weather is playing a role in ridding the delta of a stubborn water weed that has plagued Stockton’s Waterfront, but added that the state is also upping its efforts to finish off the pesky plant.
The Village West Marina in Stockton recently came up with a possible solution to help weed out the growing water hyacinth problem, but the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department put an end to the plans for now, saying it breaks a harbor navigation code.
To John Laird, Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency: The hyacinth situation in parts of the California Delta has become a disaster. The navigable part of the Calaveras River is completely filled in with the pest as are Buckley Cove, downtown Stockton harbor, Whiskey Slough, much of the San Joaquin River and many other areas — this is just a sampling.
With Stockton’s water hyacinth invasion seeming to only get worse, San Joaquin County legislators on Friday asked state officials to request a “sustained funding source” from the federal government to fight back against the prolific weeds.
The Bureau of Reclamation has released a report summarizing six years of testing coatings to control the attachment of quagga and zebra mussels to water and power facilities. … The testing was conducted at Parker Dam on the Colorado River.
In a final effort to rid thousands of invasive fish from the Presidio’s historic Mountain Lake and make room for native species, biologists will use a standard fish-killing chemical called rotenone, park officials said this week.
A project to suffocate Asian clams at Lake Tahoe’s treasured Emerald Bay may be coming to an end this month, when divers help remove about 5 acres of rubber matting being used to cut off the species’ oxygen supply.
Asian Citrus Psyllids, an invasive insect, have been found in Manteca and Lodi, according to San Joaquin County Agricultural Commissioner Tim Pelican. … The psyllids pose no threat to humans, but they can carry the huanglongbing disease, also known as citrus greening.
For the second year in a row, despite state officials’ efforts to control water hyacinth with herbicides as early as March, another bumper crop is now making its annual fall push into Stockton and other portions of the Delta.
This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explains how non-native invasive animals can alter the natural ecosystem, leading to the demise of native animals. “Unwelcome Visitors” features photos and information on four such species – including the zerbra mussel – and explains the environmental and economic threats posed by these species.
This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, explains how non-native invasive plants can alter the natural ecosystem, leading to the demise of native plants and animals. “Space Invaders” features photos and information on six non-native plants that have caused widespread problems in the Bay-Delta Estuary and elsewhere.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta, its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex and competing issues with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural drainage, and water distribution.