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- REPORT VERNAL POOLS AND RARE SPECIES ONLINE
- AVOID DECORATING WITH INVASIVE PLANTS!
- EXOTIC PETS ILLEGAL IN MASSACHUSETTS
- UPCOMING PUBLIC MEETINGS
- CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Citizen scientists, sportsmen, birders, naturalists and other actively
involved conservationists: Have you collected information this year
to certify a vernal pool or report rare wildlife or plants and just
haven't gotten around to filing the paperwork? If so, there is good
news-a new electronic reporting system, the Vernal Pool & Rare Species
(VPRS) Information System, has been developed by the Division of Fisheries
and Wildlife (DFW) with support from federal and state agency partners.
This reporting tool allows the interested public to electronically submit
their observations of vernal pool and state-listed (rare) species through
the web. No need to fill out paper forms, create copies of photographs
and maps, or put them in the mail, though it still is an option. The
new VPRS system will be posted on the DFW website November 5th, 2012
"The Vernal Pool & Rare Species Information System is a web-based mapping and data submittal application that provides an electronic method for the public to submit reports of observed rare species or vernal pool certification forms to our Program," said Sarah Haggerty, Information Manager for DFW's Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP). "Electronic reporting is a huge benefit for both the reporting observer and agency staff. The convenience of electronic submittal alone will save time for all involved in reporting and confirming the presence of rare species and vernal pools."
Four forms are available through the new VPRS system: 1) the Vernal Pool Certification Form, 2) the NHESP Animal Observation Form, 3) the NHESP Plant Observation Form, and 4) the Survey Form. The first three forms are electronic versions of the NHESP's existing paper forms, but the Survey Form is new and is intended for use by researchers and surveyors conducting organized searches for rare species or vernal pools. Using the VPRS system observers can map observations directly into the online form and upload photos, audio files, or other related documents. Anyone submitting reports can access all their reports and see the report status (in progress, submitted, accepted, etc.) within the VPRS system.
In addition to individual reports, users can create multiple reports using the bulk upload feature by entering data into a preformatted spreadsheet. Additional information (e.g. photos) can then be added to each report prior to submittal. As with the existing paper form system, once forms are submitted, they are reviewed by NHESP staff against its usual strict, standard data acceptance criteria. Based on this evaluation, as in the past, NHESP staff accepts or rejects the submitted reports. Staff can request additional information from reporting observers directly through VPRS using a built-in notification system which allows the observers to respond to the requests. An additional benefit to the system will be a "real time" update of accepted data reports which will be incorporated into the publically available NHESP Certified Vernal Pool datalayer and Town Rare species lists found at MassGIS and the NHESP website respectively.
Haggerty noted that a new Android mobile phone application which will allow users to capture basic information (species, location, photographs) while out in the field will also be available later this fall. The captured information can be used to create an observation report which can then be completed and submitted through the VPRS system.
What about observers who are computer-phobic? "People who are more comfortable with the paper forms can continue to submit their information on paper as in the past," said Haggerty. "We wouldn't want to preclude anyone from submitting data about rare species or vernal pools, so for that reason, we will continue to use the paper system. Obviously, we want as many people as possible to use the VPRS system, but if anyone has difficulties with an electronic submittal, the paper and postal service option is still available."
The Vernal Pool and Rare Species Information System was primarily funded through an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Wetland Program Development Grant. Additional funds were provided by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) in support of the Linking Landscapes Program. In addition, DFW-NHESP staff worked with the Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Information Technology Department, the Department of Fish and Game, and MassGIS all of whom provided staff and other resources to the development of VPRS.
During holiday seasons, many people use plant material they have gathered from their yard or neighborhood to decorate their houses or businesses. The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) and the Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR) highly recommend that people avoid using exotic, invasive plants such as Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) and Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora) in holiday decorations. Though these plants are attractive, it is best to not use them. Birds eat the fruits from wreaths and garlands and the digested but still-viable seeds sprout where deposited. Exotic, invasive plants create severe environmental damage, invading open fields, forests, wetlands, meadows, and backyards, and crowding out native plants. Bittersweet can grow over and even kill mature trees through strangling them. These invasive plants are extremely difficult to control: when cut off, the remaining plant segment in the ground will re-sprout. It is illegal to import or sell Oriental bittersweet and Multiflora rose in any form (e.g. plants, cuttings, or wreaths) in Massachusetts.
Home and business property gardeners, garden club members, nursery staff, landscapers and conservationists can learn more about invasive plants from DFW's A Guide To Invasive Plants. In the Guide, each invasive plant description includes a photograph, the plant's regulatory status, key identification characteristics, habitats where the plant is likely to be found, type of threat the plant poses to native species and their habitats, and its current distribution and place of origin. Similar plant species are also briefly described to aid in plant identification. The Guide includes definitions of three categories of invasiveness, brief explanations of how invasive plants are introduced and spread, explanations of why they are a problem, how to learn more about controlling invasive plants, and the state regulations regarding their importation, sale and propagation. Useful websites on invasive plants are also referenced.
To purchase a guide, stop in the Field Headquarters office in West
Boylston (Note new address) during business hours or send a request
to "Invasive Plant Guide," DFW Field HQ, NHESP, 100 Hartwell
Street, Suite 230, West Boylston, MA, 01583, and include a check for
$5 per copy payable to: Comm. of Mass.--NHESP. Sorry, but DFW does not
accept credit cards. Learn more about invasive plants from DFW's
Natural Heritage webpage.
As the holiday season approaches, the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) has an important reminder to prospective exotic pet owners; Massachusetts has some of the strictest state regulations in the country governing the possession of both native and exotic wildlife by the average citizen. "Do not assume that any animal purchased in another state or through the internet is legal to possess in Massachusetts," cautions Dr. Tom French, Assistant Director of DFW's Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program. "The goal of these regulations is to protect both wildlife and people. In Massachusetts, only research entities, museums, nature centers, or educational institutions are granted permits for most kinds of wildlife. "
Before making any purchase, consult with a veterinarian to determine
what kind of animal is suitable for your abilities, lifestyle, and commitment
to pet care, as well as the legal status of owning such an animal in
Massachusetts. Information regarding the possession of captive or exotic
wildlife in Massachusetts can be found at: www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/wildlife/living/keeping_wildlife.htm.
Dr. French recommends doing business with established and reputable Massachusetts pet shops rather than surfing the Internet, checking out Craigslist, or scanning the classifieds where sellers are not necessarily concerned with or aware of the laws that might affect potential buyers. "Store owners keep up with the laws," he notes. "The store owners were an effective lobby for making domestic ferrets a legal pet in Massachusetts and know their livelihood depends on doing business by the book. They'll be happy to sell you reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish, and mammals that conform to state laws, and they'll tell you if something you ask about is illegal."
French also asks that anyone with knowledge of an illegally held wild
or exotic animal to contact the Division at (508) 389-6300 on weekdays
during business hours or the Environmental Police at (800) 632-8075
on any day of the week. "To avoid making a difficult situation
more uncomfortable, we encourage owners with illegal wildlife to step
forward and cooperate with us for the sake of the animals, " said
French. "If animals have to be confiscated, our goal is to find
the best home in the most appropriate setting for the animal's health
November 8 -- Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee Meeting, W. Boylston -- The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee will be meeting on Thursday, November 8, 2012, at the DFW Field Headquarters, 100 Hartwell Street, Suite 230, in West Boylston (Note new address) from 1:30- 4:30 P.M. Directions or call the Field HQ at (508) 389-6360.
November 20 -- Fisheries and Wildlife Board Meeting, West Boylston - The Fisheries and Wildlife Board will hold its November meeting on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:00 P.M. at the DFW Field Headquarters, 100 Hartwell Street, Suite 230, in West Boylston (Note new address). Directions or call the Field HQ at (508) 389-6300.
Both meetings are open to the public and the venues are handicapped accessible.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS -- Visit the DFW calendar for regular updates.
November 7 - December 18 - Jr. Duck Stamp Traveling Exhibit; Connecting
Children with Nature Through Science and Art! Holden - Interested
in submitting artwork to the 2013 Massachusetts Junior Duck Stamp Contest?
Take inspiration from traveling exihibits featuring top youth entries
from the 2012 Massachusetts
Junior Duck Stamp (JDS) Contest at the Wachusett Regional High School,
Bowes Gallery. For directions
and more information, contact Suzanne Breen at (508) 829-6771.
November 13 - Land Protection and Fisheries Conservation, Holyoke - Andrew Madden, MassWildlife Western District Supervisor will be giving a presentation on how land protection benefits aquatic life and habitats to the Pioneer Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited at the Elks Lodge, 250 Whitney Ave in Holyoke. The meeting begins at 7:30, is free, and open to the interested public.
November 14 - New England Park Rangers Association Conference, Boylston - This conference organized by the New England Park Rangers Association will be held at Tower Hill Botanic Garden and is open to park ranger professionals, educators and others interested in the Ranger profession. Join DFW's Marion Larson, Chief of Information & Education, for her presentation on "Ranger Resources and Programs Available from MassWildlife." For more information on the conference visit the NEPRA website.
November 17 - Project WILD Educator/Teacher Training, North Adams - Educators of students/youth in grades K-12 are invited to a useful, hands-on and fun Project WILD workshop at the Heritage State Park in North Adams. Educator/Naturalist Aimee Gelinas of Tamarack Hollow and DCR Interpreter Alec Gillman from Mt. Greylock State Reservation will be conducting this workshop. Project WILD is an interdisciplinary, conservation and environmental education program that emphasizes wildlife, ecosystems, people, and the environment. Workshop participants will receive copies of each guide, and a certificate of completion. Pre-registration is required--contact Aimee Gelinas at firstname.lastname@example.org to register. Course fee is $25, but Northern Berkshire educators are free thanks to a grant from the Northern Berkshire Cultural Council. Project WILD is sponsored by DFW and the Massachusetts Wildlife Federation.
Last Updated: 11/01/2012