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Great Lakes Protection Fund Grant
Gypsy Moths
Purple Loosestrife Controls
Reintroduction of Peregrine Falcons
Lupine Plantings
Lake County Native Plant Nursery


Great Lakes Ballast Technology Demonstration Project

In 1996, Governors of the Great Lakes states participating in the Great Lakes Protection Fund announced a $1,000,000 grant designed to seek better ways to control the spread of aquatic nuisance species into the Great Lakes. In announcing the grant, the governors reflected that more than 130 exotic species have come into the Great Lakes through ballast water, and many have thrived due to a lack of predators.98

The grant is being used to fund an experimental filter on Algoma Central Marine's bulk carrier Algonorth. The project is conducted by the Lake Carriers' Association and the Northeast-Midwest Institute, a non-profit organization involved in economic and environmental issues affecting an 18-state tier of northern states from Minnesota to Maine.

"In terms of a single, dedicated project, this is bigger than any other similar project in the world," said Richard W. Harkins, vice president of operations for the Lake Carriers' Association. "The British have been conducting some experiments with ultraviolet treatment and the Australians have studied the effects of heat. But this is the only actual shipboard application of a technology currently being carried out."

The object of the Great Lakes Ballast Technology Demonstration Project is to test one or more potential technologies aboard an operating commercial vessel. In the process, the exercise will forge a cooperative partnership between an industry group, the Lake Carriers' Association, and a non-profit group concerned with resource protection, the Northeast-Midwest Institute. The project is designed to be widely applicable. While the Great Lakes will serve as the laboratory for this project, a Great Lakes-only solution is not the objective.

The Great Lakes Ballast Technology Demonstration Project consists of three phases. Phase 1 involved preliminary research, scoping, experimental protocol development, and documentation of projects funded by U.S. and Canadian federal agencies.

Phase 2 was the installation and implementation of the Algonorth experiment funded by the Great Lakes Protection Fund. The filtration unit, with testing lab and peripheral equipment, was installed on the Algonorth in late 1996 and, following some shakedown trips, was further refined during the vessel's winter lay-up. Testing in earnest began with the ship's operations in the spring of 1997.

Phase 3 will be directed at refinement of the technologies demonstrated and will be funded by the State of Minnesota.

A steering committee has been formed with broad participation from U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, the states, the commercial maritime industry, and interested parties from other parts of the country, including the West Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. Institutions participating in the project include the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Canadian Shipping Federation, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, the Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering and CILER at the University of Michigan, Ontario Hydro Technologies, Hyde Products Inc., Williams College-Mystic Seaport, and the Great Lakes Commission, which is serving as the fiscal agent for the project.99

Importation of Wild Animals for Release

During its March 1998 meeting, the Natural Resources Commission gave final adoption to a new rule which would require a person to obtain a permit before the person "can import a mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, mollusk, or crustacean for release or sale for release in Indiana.100" A permit may be granted only if an applicant can demonstrate the animal to be imported (1) is free of any communicable disease; (2) will not become a nuisance; and (3) will not damage a native wild animal, a domesticated species of animal, or a species of plant.101 If approved by the Attorney General and Governor, the rule will become effective before the end of 1998.

Gypsy Moths

The gypsy moth was brought to Massachusetts in 1869 by a biologist who wanted to cross it with the silk worm moth. An accident freed the caterpillars from their enclosure, and without parasites and predators from their native Asia and Europe, the caterpillars thrived. "The trees and shrubs were stripped bare every spring. Fecal pellets dropped from the trees like rain."102

Biological effects of gypsy moth outbreaks can be severe, particularly during the first outbreak in newly-infested areas. Intensive repeated defoliation causes tree mortality and growth loss. Indirectly, gypsy moth outbreaks alter species composition, change wildlife habitat, decrease regeneration, and reduce water quality.103 After running out of food, the insects will invade cars and homes and become susceptible to a virus caused by stress. When dead caterpillars fall from trees, they burst and emit a foul-smelling liquid which attracts flies.104

The expansion of gypsy moth populations has been slow, in part because of eradication efforts on the East Coast and in part because female moths do not fly.105 That expansion now covers most of the Northeast, however, and the caterpillars are firmly established in Michigan. About $1,800,000 is spent annually in Michigan to help manage the infestations. "We invest in areas of greatest impact because we don't have enough money to spray everywhere," according to Ron Priest of the Michigan Department of Agriculture.106

"The female crawls to protected sites to lay from 500 to 1000 eggs in a mass, which she covers with her body hairs. It is the egg mass that travels out of the infested area on cars, trucks and campers into areas far from the naturally expanding front."107 The naturally expanding front is currently located along the northern Indiana border.

For the past two decades, Indiana has fought sporadic outbreaks of gypsy moths using a variety of techniques, including traps for male moths. Those traps are set throughout the state and also are used as a measure of the insect's spread. These traps demonstrate the insect is now spreading into Indiana at an alarming rate. Fewer than 6,000 male moths were trapped in Indiana in 1996. In 1997, the number exceeded 60,000.

According to Robert Waltz, State Entomologist, there are three basic classifications for the degree of moth infestation. Northern Indiana is now in a "transition zone" from a condition relatively free of gypsy moths to a condition of "infested areas" with "tremendous populations. Indiana is just the tip of the iceberg; there is much more to come."108

Public hearings were held in Michigan City and Indianapolis in February 1998 to consider a proposed rule to set a quarantine process on a county basis for the anticipated invasion of gypsy moths. No adverse comments were received on the proposal, and the rule becomes effective in May 1998.109 Both LaPorte and Porter Counties experienced significantly elevated levels of gypsy moths in 1997.

The most-common treatment to combat small infestations of gypsy moths is a naturally-occurring soil-borne microbial insecticide called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). The insecticide causes a bacterial disease in some species of foliage-feeding caterpillars. Gypsy moth caterpillars ingest the insecticide, become paralyzed, and die from starvation. The typical method for application is aerial spraying, a technique generally better suited to rural than urban sites.110 Bt was applied twice in 1996 to each of the five infested sites in northern Indiana.111

Diflubenzuron is another substance which has been used to help control gypsy moths. Diflubenzuron is a growth regulator that interferes with chitin synthesis and the molting process of other arthropods. In Michigan, concerns about diflubenzuron's effects on aquatic invertebrates and other nontarget organisms have limited its use.112

A Japanese fungus is also impacting gypsy moth populations in the East. Scientists had introduced Entomophaga maimaiga at six locations near Boston in 1908 in an effort to control gypsy moths, but the pathogen had apparently disappeared shortly afterwards. The belief is that the fungus has either awakened after a long dormancy or was accidentally reintroduced. The "long-term effect of the fungus is yet to be known," according to Noel Schneeberger, an entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service.113

The hope is to delay the spread of gypsy moths in Indiana until a dependable and predictable control can be secured, but advancing populations from Michigan (and otherwise in the Northeast) cannot now be stopped. "There is no resident population of the gypsy moth in Indiana that we cannot eradicate right now, but we're nearing the point when that statement will no longer hold true," according to Philip Marshall, a forest specialist with the Department of Natural Resources.114

Purple Loosestrife Controls

Purple loosestrife (Lythrum) is a plant with showy purple flowers, several exotic species of which have been planted in flower gardens as ornamentals. These exotic species (notably Lythrum salacaria and Lythrum virgatum) have escaped to the wild and have become aggressive invaders of wetlands to the detriment of native plants and native animals.

In Indiana, a person who plants, sells, or gives away purple loosestrife seeds or plants commits a Class C infraction unless the person acts pursuant to a permit. In 1996, responsibility for the permitting of purple loosestrife was transferred from the Dean of Agriculture at Purdue University to the Department of Natural Resources.115

Under rules given final adoption by the Natural Resources Commission which became effective at the end of 1996, a process was established by which a permit could be obtained to plant native, non-aggressive species of purple loosestrife. Before a permit can be issued, an applicant must secure an identification of the species through the Division of Nature Preserves of the Department of Natural Resources or by gene testing methodologies through qualified laboratories.116

Reintroduction of Peregrine Falcons

Social and environmental factors, including limited suitable habitat, severely restrict opportunities for the reintroduction of large predators to Northwest Indiana. One relatively small predator, the peregrine falcon, has been the subject of attention. Nesting peregrine falcons were discovered in East Chicago in 1989 and have resulted in the most sustained efforts by the Nongame Section of the Division of Fish and Wildlife of the Department of Natural Resources. Volunteers have worked with the state agency to monitor the nest. Plant personnel from USX Steel in Gary have worked with the agency since 1990 to monitor a second nest. "Both sites have been enhanced to ensure successful nesting and to make them easier to monitor. Nestlings are banded and unhatched eggs are retrieved to monitor contaminant levels." Unhatched eggs are delivered to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for chemical analysis.117

In 1996, there were seven nesting pairs of peregrine falcons in Indiana. Except for two nests in downtown Indianapolis and downtown Fort Wayne, these pairs were located along the Lake Michigan shoreline. A nesting pair was discovered June 10 at Inland Steel. The male is believed to be one of 16 falcons released in South Bend in 1993, and the female was released in 1992 in Racine, Wisconsin. In the early 1970s, the peregrine falcon population in the United States was estimated at 2,000, but as a result of release programs and a ban on the use of DDT, populations have increased to as many as 10,000 birds.118

Lupine Plantings

An IPALCO Enterprises "Golden Eagle Environmental Grant" funded a special restoration project at Ivanhoe Nature Preserve on May 4 and 5, 1996. At that time plantings of "the beautiful blue wildflower, lupine, (Lupinus perennis)" took place along the eastern side of the "globally rare dune and swale biological community" at Ivanhoe Nature Preserve near Gary. Volunteers of the Southern Lake Michigan Conservation Initiative and staff for The Nature Conservancy prepared the site by removing a large thicket of Siberian elm, an aggressive exotic species.119

Lake County Native Plant Nursery

In 1995, the Lake County Parks and Recreation Board was awarded a Golden Eagle Environmental Grant from IPALCO Enterprises to develop a native plant nursery at Oak Ridge Prairie County Park in Griffith. The grant provided funding for a greenhouse, irrigation lines, cellpacks, soil mixtures, and other supplies. The project depends largely upon volunteers to help collect seeds, care for seedlings, and to assist with the plantings of native species. The nursery is intended to supply the Oak Ridge Prairie restoration efforts, as well as those of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and The Nature Conservancy. Oak Ridge has worked with the Conservancy in growing lupine, the host plant for the endangered Karner blue butterfly. During the school season, the nursery will be the site of environmental seminars. The park is associated with a 30-acre prairie and marsh which will help provide an indigenous seed source.120

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