Effort to fight Arundo ramps up along Hill Country rivers
December 9, 2016
A coalition of government and nonprofit conservation groups is expanding the war on Arundo (Arundo donax), an invasive plant that threatens to take over scenic Hill Country rivers. It’s one aspect of a broader statewide effort made possible by a record $6.3 million to control invasive aquatic species approved by the Texas Legislature for the 2016-17 biennium, an increase from $1.1 million in the previous two-year cycle.
Like fire ants and feral hogs, Arundo does not belong in Texas, but it’s threatening to take over, alter the shape and flow of streams and rivers, worsen erosion and flooding problems, and increase wildfire risk. Sometimes known as giant reed or Carrizo cane, this highly invasive plant is native to the Mediterranean area, but was introduced to the American Southwest in the 1800s as an ornamental plant. Growing in dense thickets up to 30 feet tall (or taller), Arundo chokes out deep-rooted native vegetation that naturally anchors the riparian area, absorbing water, dissipating stormwater energy, and reducing erosion. Instead, Arundo-infested areas are prone to bank undercutting and erosion, leading to reduced water quality. Arundo is also a “big drinker,” using up much more water than the diverse, native plant community it displaces—some estimates suggest that tall, dense thickets of Arundo can use 48 acre-feet of water per acre per year.
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