Invaders don't take vacations

Invaders don't take vacations

I wrote this early because I left for vacation when I normally would have been on deadline. But it reminded me of several invasive-species issues to consider when on the road.

When thinking of invasive species, we think of insects, plants, pathogens, vertebrates and invertebrates that have invaded our local environment from some other part of the world. There are, however, invasions that take place on a smaller scale, from one part of the country to another, or even within a state.

Sam Chan, an assistant professor and invasive-species specialist at Oregon State University, says researchers have found larvae in random bundles of firewood they purchased from supermarkets. Most of what they found were native to the state in which the wood was sold, but not to that region of the state.

They even found firewood from China, Russia and New Zealand in Pacific Northwest stores. The wood is imported on ships, loaded on trucks and then sold throughout the United States, Chan says.

The message here is: Get your wood where you're going to use it. If you're going to the coast, please don't take firewood from the interior of the state. You never know what you could be transporting.

Another issue relates to boating and activities in and around water. There are many aquatic plants and animals (snails, mussels, etc.) that can hitchhike on your boat, boat trailer, waders and inflatable toys. Some of these are incredibly injurious, and the rate at which they can spread or populate a new body of water is amazing.

In 2007, the quagga mussel, native to Ukraine, was found in the Colorado River watershed. The tiny mussels have invaded water-intake systems in major dams throughout the country, bringing them to a standstill. Millions of dollars are spent to shut these facilities down for cleaning. Colonies of mussels can exceed 10,000 per square meter. They're transported mainly by boats and boat trailers.

Zebra mussels, New Zealand mudsnails, spartina, Japanese eelgrass, Asian kelp, hydrilla and Brazilian elodea are but a few examples of aquatic species for which we should be on the lookout.

Have a great vacation but don't bring any hitchhikers home with you. Wash your boat, trailer, shoes, waders and anything else that went in the water ON SITE. Yes, probably your dog, too.

This is not an issue to be taken lightly. If you're stopped at an inspection station, please be patient with the inspectors. They're trying to prevent a major invasion.

Jacksonville resident Bob Budesa oversaw the noxious-weed program with Medford District Bureau of Land Management and helped start the Jackson Coordinated Weed Management Area. Reach him at 541-326-2549 or bob_budesa@yahoo.com.

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