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For Release: Friday, July 17, 2015

DEC, Partners and Volunteers Pull Invasive Mile-A-Minute Vine from Mianus River Gorge

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will join forces on Saturday, July 18 with members of the Mianus River Gorge Preserve, the Lower Hudson Partners for Invasive Species Management (PRISM) and local volunteers to remove one of New York's most aggressive invasive species, the "Mile-a-Minute" vine at the Mianus Gorge Preserve in Bedford, N.Y. The event is part of New York's second annual Invasive Species Awareness Week, July 12-18.

"Mile-a-Minute is a highly aggressive invasive that has taken hold in southeastern New York State," said DEC Regional Director Martin Brand. "By doing all that we can now to both eliminate and control this invasive plant, we hope to minimize its potential to spread across the state. We appreciate everyone's help to keep it under control in this stunning and ecologically significant gorge. We'll need the continued involvement of our partners and the community to help us contain it elsewhere."

This event, part of Invasive Species Awareness Week, is designed to raise awareness about invasive species and to encourage all New Yorkers to take action to protect lands and waters from invasive species that can be harmful to human health, animal habitat, agriculture and tourism.

The Mile-a-Minute pull was organized by Mianus River Gorge Preserve and the Lower Hudson PRISM. PRISMs are coordinated groups of organizations and engaged citizens working together to prevent and manage invasive species. Eight PRISMs are established across the state.

Mile-a-Minute (Persicaria perfoliata) is an annual vine capable of growing six inches per day and over 20 feet over the course of a growing season. It smothers perennials, shrubs and trees with its dense mats of rampant growth, cutting off sunlight and ultimately causing death. It can survive in a wide range of soils and will quickly colonize disturbed areas, as well as roadsides, uncultivated fields, wetlands, and the edge of the woods. It prefers full sun but can tolerate some shade.

Mile-a-Minute was introduced into the United States from the Philippines several times between the late 1800s and the 1930s. It arrived in Pennsylvania in contaminated nursery stock and has since spread to 10 other east coast states. At present, Mile-a-Minute's distribution in New York is limited to the southeastern NY, New York City and Long Island. Its presence has been confirmed in Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties. Effective March 10, 2015, this species is among 69 plants prohibited from possession with the intent to sell, purchase, transport (except for identification or proper disposal), propagate or introduce.

Mile-a-Minute in the Mianus River Gorge is of particular concern because of the gorge's ecological significance. The Mianus River Gorge was the first registered Natural History Landmark in the country. It was also the first property acquired and protected by The Nature Conservancy because of the magnificent old-growth hemlock forest that grows there. Some of the hemlocks are 350 years old and 100 feet tall.

Like many invasive species, Mile-a-Minute produces abundant seeds which remain viable in the soil for up to five years. This large seed bank helps the Mile-a-Minute proliferate. The seeds can be spread by birds, deer, squirrels and chipmunks and can float and be dispersed by water as well.

Hand pulling of Mile-a-Minute is effective where there are not many plants, but impractical for an extensive infestation. Herbicides can be effective, but may injure native vegetation. Biological control, through release of a natural predator, the Mile-a Minute weevil (Rhinocominus latipes) is effective. DEC released thousands of weevils at Stewart State Forest and has observed good results. The weevil eats only Mile-a-Minute and has not damaged any other plants. The results of weevil releases at four other sites in southeastern NY are being monitored by DEC and others.

Learn more about the threat to the lower Hudson Valley from invasive species on the New York Invasive Species Information website.

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