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Recent News and Events

Summer 2013•Fall 2012Summer 2012Winter 2011-2012


Summer 2013

The US Fish & Wildlife Service grant which was administered by the last 2 years through the Georgetown Soil and Water Conservation District with technical assistance provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has ended. A final follow up treatment was completed last spring. All treatment was completed by a private contractor.

Throughout the life of all the grants provided over the last 10 years, over 250 sites have been treated from North Myrtle Beach in Horry County, south to Edisto Island in Colleton County. The ongoing assistance of the Beach Vitex Task Force has made the project a great success. However this success will need to be a continued effort of follow up by the property owners diligently monitoring for the presence of beach vitex, while continuing to educate all property owners to be aware of the problems with invasive plants.

Plans for the future are to work on a partnership with North Carolina to continue the effort and ensure the success controlling beach vitex.

Fall 2012

An article about beach vitex appeared on the website for Public Works magazine’s November issue. The web page is sponsored by Dupont land management and addresses the responsible use of herbicide for vegetation management by public sector entities--local, state and federal--charged with controlling and maintaining plant growth on a vast amount of public property. The article,‘Coastal exotic vine diminishes dunes’, written by Leslie Drahos, addresses the threat beach vitex poses to coastal dune health and sea turtle nesting habitat.
http://vegetationmanagement.pwmag.com/bestpractices/coastal_exotic_vine_diminishes_dunes.html

Through a grant from the US Fish & Wildlife Service, fall treatment for sites in South Carolina began October 15 and ended mid December. 160 small sites of retreatment and 7 new large sites were completed. Several large sites will be first on the list for a spring treatment.

Summer 2012

During summer 2012, sea turtle volunteers surveyed the South Carolina coast for regrowth of beach vitex at existing sites and also searched for new sites. 167 sites were documented of regrowth and 23 new sites were located. In July, the Georgetown Soil and Water Conservation District received news that the US Fish & Wildlife Service had awarded a $25,000 grant to continue treatment of invasive beach vitex. This grant was made possible, in part, by the match in time by sea turtle volunteers. The funding will allow for a fall and spring treatment of beach vitex. Work commenced October 1 and will continue until mid-December.

Future funding for beach vitex eradication is uncertain at this point with government agency budget cuts. Sea turtle volunteers have been enlisted to survey the coast for regrowth of known sites and to document any new sites. The SC coast has been divided into zones with zone captains who have received sheets for each property where beach vitex has previously been treated. Surveys will be completed by August 1 in hopes that funding will be in place for a fall treatment of sites found over the summer. An article about beach vitex appeared in the Summer 2012 edition of Sea Scripts, the newsletter of the South Carolina Marine Educators Association. The article, titled Kudzu of the Coast, was written by South Carolina Aquarium horticulturist, Kristen Colvin. Read the article.  

November 2011 to January 2012

Treatment and re-treatment of known sites in SC, NC and VA ended by mid-December as fall is optimum treatment time. The beach vitex plant’s energy is going to the roots as the plant begins to go dormant for the winter and thus carries the herbicide along with it. Over the winter months, Task Forces in the 3 states are planning their strategies for 2012’s growing season concentrating on surveying for new sites, treating and re-treating sites and contributing GPS coordinates to the GIS database of sites in SC, NC and VA. Beach vitex usually begins leafing out mid- April to early  May. The Task Force is optimistic that aggressive efforts in the 3 states are paying off and the invasive plant is coming under better control with each new season.

October 2011

South Carolina

October 18, 2011: The 2011 Beach Vitex Symposium was held at the Kimbel Lodge at Hobcaw Barony, Georgetown, SC. Although the Task Force includes NC and VA, the focus was on SC. The agenda theme was Beach Vitex: Past, Present & Future. There were about 45 people in attendance including representatives from state and federal agencies, academia, sea turtle volunteers, nurserymen, municipalities and environmental groups.
 
Betsy Brabson gave a presentation and went through the timeline of first finding beach vitex, the steps in the creation of the Task Force, funding and the accomplishments over the past 8 years. Chuck Gresham and Jack Whetstone, both now retired from Clemson University, addressed the early control demonstrations to eradicate beach vitex. They spoke about the aggressive nature of the plant and its ability to resprout. Through much experimentation, they have devised the most effective control using the herbicide Habitat and a hack and squirt application. Debbie Mann, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Hal Drotor, eradication contractor, addressed current eradicaton efforts on the SC coast. While there is regrowth at many sites, it is manageable and under control. Drotor brought in long runners, showing the taxonomy of the plant and cut clippings to pass around to the audience. Pawleys Island Mayor Bill Otis talked about how this island town enacted an ordinance and worked as a liaison between property owners and the Task Force to get beach vitex under control. Recognizing that Pawleys Island was the ‘epicenter’ of beach vitex
and had received a lot of the efforts of the Task Force, the town council gave $15,000 grants two successive years.

Hal Drotor shows the long runers of the beach vitex plant.Guest speaker Patrick McMillanHal Drotor demonstrates the long runner or the beach vitex plant (left). Guest speaker Patrick McMillan speaks with symposium attendee Walter McElveen (right).

The guest speaker was Clemson naturalist Patrick McMillan, co-creator and host of ETV’s award winning Expeditions with Patrick McMillan. Patrick was the biologist at Clemson University to conduct the Weed Analysis on a clipping taken to Clemson Extension in 2001. He was the first to identify beach vitex as an invasive and a detrimental plant for the SC dune ecosystem. He gave a dynamic presentation and tied in beach vitex to the international problem of invasive plants.

At the close, SC Task Force partners were presented with framed certificates of appreciation for "not letting beach vitex become the ‘kudzu of the coast’". Betsy Brabson and Randy Westbrooks, PhD, US Geological Survey, were presented plaques for their contributions.

SC task force partnersFront row left to right:Wendy Allen, Jennifer Plunket: North Inlet-Winyah Bay NERR Kelly Sloan, SC DNR Jennifer Koches, US FWS Betsy Brabson, Beach Vitex Task Force Debbie Mann, NRCS George Chastain, Baruch Foundation. Back row left to right: Jack Whetstone, Clemson (ret.), Mike Walker, Huntington Beach State Park Tommy Socha, ACOE Hal Drotor, eradication contractor Chuck Gresham, Clemson (ret.) John Brubaker, SC-EPPC Bill Eiser, DHEC-OCRM

Funding under the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation's Pulling Together Initiative Grant ends as of Dec. 31. This has given the Task Force operating money and paid the coordinator's part time salary. The eradication effort is currently being funded by a US Fish & Wildlife Service grant which runs out in 2012. A meeting of key partners is being planned to discuss the next step for beach vitex.

A front page article by reporter Bo Petersen ran in Charleston's Post & Courier about beach vitex titled Funding may doom war on leafy invader. View the article.


October 20, 2011: An additional front page article appeared in the Pawleys Island Coastal Observer: As invasive plant disappears, so do funds to keep it at bay. View the article.

Read the Significant Accomplishmenets for South Carolina 2003-2011

View Presentations from the Symposium

North Carolina

Contractors and town staff have been treating beach vitex sites since June with October being a peak month for treatments. All sites with property owner’s permission have been treated at least once, if not twice during this field season. This includes sites in Topsail Beach, North Topsail Beach, Surf City, Emerald Isle, Pine Knoll Shores, Atlantic Beach, Morehead City, Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Duck and Corolla. At this point, about 89% of the known sites in NC have been treated. The Task Force will continue to gain permission and treat additional sites in 2012, the last year of the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Keystone grant.

903 (total known sites as of Sept. '11)
801 (total treated sites in NC) 
88.6% (percentage of sites treated to date)

Virginia

In October, a contractor treated a total of 25 areas of beach vitex in the Sandbridge community of Virginia Beach. Over 39,325 square feet of beach vitex was treated with an additional 21 known properties still needing treatment. Those properties will need right-of-entry agreements secured to allow treatment next fall. In addition, a single beach vitex plant was discovered inland in the Kempsville community of Virginia Beach. A letter is being drafted to the property owner to advise of the statewide quarantine on the plant and hopefully secure permission to eradicate the plant next year. It should be recognized that the City of Virginia Beach is taking a proactive and determined stance on addressing beach vitex anywhere they find it in their jurisdiction.


September 2011

South Carolina

2011 Beach Vitex Symposium: Tuesday, October 18 - Hobcaw Barony, Georgetown, SC. We will be taking a look back at the beach vitex project over the past 8 years and discussing future plans for this invasive plant. Dr. Patrick McMillan, Clemson naturalist, will be our guest speaker and address how beach vitex and other invasive plants threaten habitats. There will be a full agenda of those who have been involved with the beach vitex project over the past 8 years. The symposium is free and will be held at the Kimbel Lodge at Hobcaw Barony. Lunch will be served. Please register online.

An updated agreement with the contractor working on treatment of beach vitex was signed with the Georgetown Soil and Water Conservation District. This agency is  overseeing the US Fish & Wildlife grant and the Natural Resources Conservation Service is providing technical assistance. This final agreement will use all allocated grant money.  Treatment for fall begins October 1.

North Carolina

Contractors have been busy treating and retreating sites state wide. The Task Force received a lot more permission letters this year so some sites are being treated for the first time, while others are just spot-treatments or follow up treatments. Approximately 88% of known sites have received at least one treatment, if not several treatments.

Contract work was delayed due to heavy rains and weather associated with Hurricane Irene that hit the NC coast and other bad weather days where it was too windy to spray herbicides.

Virginia

With fingers crossed, the remaining 23 beach vitex plants were treated on Willoughby Spit in Norfolk. Most of the plants were small and most likely germinated from seeds around the main colony. Special attention was given to each plant to ensure that a good dose of herbicide was delivered. If the treatment is successful, this will eradicate beach vitex from Norfolk with the remaining plants now being in the City of Virginia Beach's Sandbridge community. A second year of treatment is being conducted there to start next month with approximately 15 additional properties being treated.


August 2011

The Weed Science Society of America sent out a news release about the efforts of the Beach Vitex Task Force which was widely circulated among US newspapers. Coastal Communities in the Carolinas Turn the Tide against “Beach Kudzu”. The Task Force was spotlighted as a grassroots organization that is successfully managing beach vitex - an invasive weed that threatens fragile sand dunes, turtles and shorebirds on some of the nation's most popular beaches.

South Carolina

Sea turtle volunteers surveying North Island in Georgetown County also surveyed for beach vitex. The 8 mile long island, owned by the State of SC and managed by the SC Dept. of Natural Resources, is accessible only by boat. In previous years, beach vitex sites have been found and treated. This year, volunteers found and flagged 3 sites which were treated with herbicide by the contractor.

Beach vitex found on North IslandSea turtle volunteers, surveying Hobcaw Beach in Georgetown County, located several sites of beach vitex and flagged them for treatment in October.

The Task Force had beach vitex signs made for public beach accesses, state parks, POAs, etc. in SC, NC and VA to alert visitors to look out for the invasive plant. The photograph on the sign shows the leaves, flowers and seeds and gives information about the problems with the plant. Anyone who finds or thinks they have found beach vitex is asked to report it on the website at: www.beachvitex.org.

Beach vitex unwanted sign


August 31, 2011: Members of the Task Force met at Hobcaw Barony Discovery Center to finalize the agenda and plans for the 2011 Beach Vitex Symposium to be held Tuesday, October 18 at Hobcaw Barony’s Kimbel Lodge.
Under the US Fish & Wildlife grant, beach vitex treatment should begin for the fall at the end of September and conclude on Dec 1.


North Carolina

August 3, 2011: Melanie Doyle, Beach Vitex Task Force, NC Coordinator, surveyed most of the undeveloped Lee-Hutaff island complex and unfortunately did find beach vitex growing there. The islands are managed by Audubon North Carolina and a huge "thank you" goes out to the staff for allowing access to the island. Eradication efforts of the beach vitex will get underway this fall.

During August, Dale Suiter, US Fish & Wildlife Service, visited many of the known beach vitex sites on Topsail Island (Topsail Beach, Surf City and North Topsail Beach) and Bogue Banks (Emerald Isle, Pine Knoll Shores, Atlantic Beach and Morehead City). If  permission has been granted to treat the sites, they were retreated, as necessary or made notes to contract that work to beach vitex eradication contractors. For those sites for which permission has not been granted, letters were sent out and there has been a good response in receiving those signed permission letters back.

Contractors have already retreated many sites in Surf City and they are working on the other towns.


Virginia

During the last two months, a couple of news articles came out on the vitex plant. After the first article came out on vitex (not the beach variety), contact was made with the author by the City of Virginia Beach's environmental manager, to make sure that the dangers of beach vitex were explained to the public. Mary Reid Barrow of the Virginian-Pilot newspaper followed up with an excellent article that solicited a number of phone calls and emails from citizens who were concerned that they may have the plant on their property

The Task Force continues to get calls from property owners who believe they have beach vitex and want to give permission for its eradication. Treatment will begin in Norfolk and Virginia Beach in September.

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June/July 2011

South Carolina

Save the date!

2011 Beach Vitex Symposium: Tuesday, October 18 - Hobcaw Barony, Georgetown, SC

We will be taking a look back at the beach vitex project over the past 8 years and discussing future plans for this invasive plant. Dr. Patrick McMillan, Clemson naturalist, will be our dynamic keynote speaker and address how beach vitex and other invasive plants threaten habitats. There will be a full agenda of others who have been involved with the beach vitex project over the years. The symposium will be held at the Kimbel Lodge at Hobcaw Barony and lunch will be served. Please mark you calendars! View the symposium agenda, or click here to register.

The beach vitex grant from the US Fish & Wildlife Service has been extended through December 31, 2012. The extension of this grant allows the contractor to have another fall, spring, and fall treatment. To date 191 sites have been treated. We will continue to monitor these sites as some sites might need follow up treatments. Five new sites have been identified and will be treated this fall. New treatment sites are from Edisto Beach to North Myrtle Beach.

beach vitex at Surfside beach

Beach vitex at Surfside beach.

North Carolina

A number of sites have been retreated over the summer months including: Outer Banks, Topsail Beach, Surf City and North Topsail. Sites at Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores, Duck and Corolla were visited and 8 sites were sprayed for minor beach vitex growth. Two sites at the Outer Banks have not received treatment because permission has not been granted but is being persued.

In July, surveys were conducted of waterfront areas around Bogue Banks. Beach vitex was found in one new area along the waterfront in Morehead City where it was scattered along the bulkhead/beaches of four residential lots.

Task Force staff members are working on permission letters to treat property and have gotten a good response so far with over 90% obtained. Retreatments will continue throughout the summer into the fall.  

Virginia

In cooperation with a local Beach Vitex committee, the City of Virginia Beach applied for and has been selected to receive a grant from the Mid-Atlantic Panel for Aquatic Invasive Species (MAPAIS). The grant will assist in meeting the eradication costs of treating additional beach vitex located in the coastal town of Sandbridge in Virginia Beach. The $6,000 grant will be matched with over $8,000 in in-kind services and cash.  The next eradication treatment will occur in September.

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May 2011

South Carolina

Eradication work continues under the US Fish & Wildlife grant with 86 sites that have been revisited and retreated. Several sites were taken off of the list and 5 new ones were added. The contractor will be finishing up the spring treatment by the end of the June. Follow up treatment will be done in the fall.


North Carolina

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has modified NC Beach Vitex Task Force grants with Emerald Isle, Surf City and Wrightsville Beach in order to make additional funds available for follow up treatments and surveys. The eradication contractor has re-treated all sites where permission has been granted by property owners on the Outer Banks (north of Ocracoke to VA State Line). Work will continue with all beach towns to initiate follow-up treatments in June 2011. Work will also continue to secure permission from property owners to treat those sites that have not been treated yet and/or will encourage the towns to enforce their beach vitex ordinances.


Virginia

Efforts are underway to coordinate additional treatment of beach vitex in the coastal community of Sandbridge (Virginia Beach) as well as follow-up treatment to approximately 15 remaining plants on Willoughby Spit (Norfolk). Following a spring survey of treated areas in Sandbridge, it was mistakenly reported that there was a 100 percent kill rate. Unfortunately, some of the plants have leafed out and these will be targeted for a second treatment this fall.

resprouting beach vitex

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March 2011

Field crews in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia are beginning to survey the coastline for regrowth of beach vitex and new sites. Temperatures are warming up and beach vitex is beginning to ‘green up’. Reports of beach vitex should be reporting using the online reporting form at www.beachvitex.org. Digital photographs, which are very helpful in positive identification, may also be submitted.

South Carolina

March 16, 2011: Huntington Beach State Park hosted South Strand Wildlife & History Day in celebration of Canadian-American Week along the Grand Strand. There were about 20 exhibitors at the Atalaya Castle who were promoting wildlife and history in the area. Betsy Brabson, Task Force SC Coordinator worked at the beach vitex exhibit handing out brochures and talking to visitors from around the US and abroad about the invasive plant. A common theme in the conversations was that everyone is battling some invasive species wherever they live.

North Carolina

Billy Beasley, Wrightsville Beach director of Parks and Recreation retired after 38 years of service. Beasley was crucial to the success of the beach vitex program at Wrightsville Beach by convincing the Town Manager, Town Council, hotel owners and residents that beach vitex was threatening their beaches. He spearheaded the effort to survey for and eradicate beach vitex from the island and, as such, Wrightsville Beach was one of the first islands (Bald Head Island was first) to get property owners’ permission and treat all known beach vitex sites. While a few populations still have a few living plants and surveys for seedlings needs to be ongoing, Wrightsville Beach is practically beach vitex- free because of the efforts of Beasley’s and the Town's contractors (Steve Mercer, Coastal Transplants).

The USFWS  has renewed beach vitex eradication grants to the towns of Wrightsville Beach, Emerald Isle and Surf City in order to provide additional funds to those towns to be used for follow-up beach vitex treatments. Plans are to do a spring/early summer follow-up treatment to surviving plants with hopes that the herbicide will knock the plants back early in the growing season before they have a chance to regain strength and grow through the summer. The USFWS will also contract out follow-up treatments in the other coastal towns with fewer beach vitex sites.

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February 2011

South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia Task Forces are making preparations for the beach vitex growing season and the continuation of surveys, treatment and retreatment of the invasive plant.

Virginia

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will be moving forward with the administrative process to list Beach Vitex as a noxious weed. The process will take upwards of 18 months to two years. The City of Virginia Beach will also be investigating other regulatory measures that would allow local government personnel to conduct eradication even if the plant is on private property and permission is not granted.  As currently written, the State noxious weed law does not provide for delegation of eradication authority to local governments.

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January 2011

South Carolina
Task Force partners convened at Hobcaw Barony Discovery Center on January 19 to set goals for the year and to wrap up work on the 5th and final National Fish & Wildlife Foundation. The partners set the date of October 18th for a symposium covering the seven years of work on the beach vitex project in South Carolina. The keynote speaker will be Clemson naturalist, Dr. Patrick McMillan, who did the original analysis on beach vitex and deemed it to be an invasive plant which was not welcome in the dune ecosystem. A complete agenda for the symposium will be available in the near future and posted on the website.


U.S Fish & Wildlife Grant
The Beach Vitex fall treatment under the US Fish and Wildlife Service Grant was off to a great start. The treatment period was from October 1 through December 1, 2010. A total of 167 sites were inspected and treated. The next treatment period will begin on April 15, 2011 and continue through June 30, 2011.


North Carolina
Thirteen small islands or remote, undeveloped stretches of beach south of Cape Lookout have yet to be surveyed for beach vitex.  Arrangements with managers are being made to assist with access and boat transport. Past experience has shown that even on undeveloped shores, beach vitex seeds and vegetative clippings can wash in and take root. Spring treatments on new beach vitex sites and sites with regrowth will begin in late March to early April.

Virginia

A coordination meeting of the various Virginia agencies and stakeholders is scheduled for February 23, 2011. Larry Nichols of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will provide an overview of the State's noxious weed designation process. Due to the resistance of some property owners in allowing their beach vitex plants to be treated, options are being explored to overcome this roadblock. The plan of attack for continuing the eradication of beach vitex in the Sandbridge community next fall will also be addressed next month.
 

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