Monday, September 22, 2014
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IBWC: Biological control for invasive plant outreach program

usibwc logoA proposed biological control program for invasive plants, efforts to enhance flood protection along the Arroyo Colorado in Harlingen, and a report on environmental flows will be discussed at a public meeting of the Lower Rio Grande Citizens Forum (LRGCF), and outreach program of the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC). The LRGCF was established to facilitate the exchange of information between the IBWC and members of the public about commission activities and related issues in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The meeting will be held Wednesday, July 18 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the IBWC office at 325 Golf Course Road in Mercedes.

John Goolsby, research entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will discuss the potential for biological control of salt cedar and Carrizo cane on the Rio Grande. These two exotic plants have invaded the Rio Grande Basin causing extensive ecological and economic damage. Both plants are targeted by biological control programs using specialist insects from the native range of these plants in Mediterranean Europe. The salt cedar beetle has been released and established in the Big Bend area of Texas where it has served to control this invasive tree. An alliance of state and federal agencies is proposing release of this beetle in the Lower Rio Grande Valley to ameliorate the impacts of salt cedar, which has now spread throughout the watershed and floodways following the 2010 flood. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the lead agency for the proposed salt cedar biological control program.

Carrizo cane, also known as giant reed or arundo, is also widespread in the Rio Grande Basin. A bi-national biological control program led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service and Mexico’s Institute of Water Technology to rear and release two specialist insects for control of this invasive plant is in progress. The goal of the program is to reduce the dominance of Carrizo cane thereby allowing the transition of the riverbank back to native vegetation. Native river vegetation uses less water, allows for increased visibility of the border for law enforcement and reduces spread of cattle fever tick.

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