Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Six-legged frogs, Japanese Knotweed, and Lawn Mowers

I'll have to add to my levels of hell, one level down from people who throw recyclables out their car windows, people who mow grass without picking up the trash first!  I spent several hours in the hot sun Saturday picking up shredded little bits of plastic and paper left by some idiot on a lawn mower.  This was at the bottom of Pysell Road---again.  I was so hot afterwards, I retreated to the cool, shady old dump site by the stream, further up Pysell Rd. in the woods, and fought with the greenbriar and deer flies instead.  There were some interesting finds there, most notably eight half-gallon-size brown glass bottles that said "Austin's A-1 Solution."  I googled it, and they're bleach bottles.  Unlike everything else I was finding, they weren't broken!  It's tempting to save some of these unbroken finds, but I don't think they're old enough to be worth much.  They all have twist-off lids.

Earlier in the week I was busy with other environmental concerns.  I happened to notice in the Garrett County Weekender that some Mennonite kids had a plastic duck regatta in the Casselman River near the old bridge (built in 1813).  I read the article to see how the heck putting a bunch of plastic ducks in a river can raise money for a charity, and hoping they got them all, when a line jumped out at me.  It said:  "The youth were delighted to spot a six-legged frog during the event." 

Well of course I was horrified, and the next day I was on the phone all morning, being referred to this person and that person, trying to notify the right people in the scientific community, at the Mennonite church, and the state EPA.  Finally I talked to Ed Thompson of the Natural Heritage Service who's doing a study of rare and endangered non-game species, such as hellbender salamanders, in the Casselman River.  He's the first person I'd spoken to who was a horrified as  I was.  The first thing he said was, "That's right where the Grantsville sewage treatment plant discharges into the Casselman!"  He said the presence of that frog may be a clue to the disappearance of the hellbenders, too.  We had a discussion about all the possible causes of such genetic deformities, including pharmacueticals not being removed at sewage treatment plants, herbicides and pesticides from farms, and plastics.

Here's the really frightening part, though.  He said there was no one to report this to.  He said there's no governmental organization set up to respond to environmental incidents like this.  But he said he'd try to involve those higher up, and I agreed to let the town of Grantsville's government know, which I did.  He was also going to talk to the church to see if anyone had collected the frog, which he wanted to see.

Then the next day, I put a letter to the editor in the local paper about how trash affects wildlife and ends up in the ocean affecting wildlife there, and explained Maryland's litter control law.  While I was there talking to the editor, I proposed an article about an invasive species, Japanese knotweed, which is taking over our river and stream banks.  He asked me to go through Liz McDowell at the Savage River Watershed Association, who has written such articles in the past.  I've got some good pictures of it.

It reallys scares me because it's huge, as you can see in this picture of an abandoned house in the Spring Lick flood plain!  It's about 8 feet tall, so it shades out and crowds out all the native plants, and it totally changes these unique stream valleys such as I described in my last blog, Sang Run.  It's really heart-breaking how it's changed Spring Lick.  I've seen it along the Savage (as shown here),

the Potomac, the Casselman, and the Youghiogheny.   I've even seen it in isolated spots at higher elevations.  I saw on a website about invasive species that to kill it, you have to cut it back three times per growing season.  It has hollow stems that shoot up every year.  Here's what the leaves look like:

                          Death to Japanese Knotweed!!!

Well, that's enough bad news for one week.

1 comment:

  1. I have this at the end of my yard and today I spent hours pulling it out.It grows so fast, you can almost see it grow. Such a pain.