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The communications office of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin provides media with timely, accurate information about the Wildflower Center. Below are recent press releases related to Center events and to staff expertise on conservation practices, native plant gardening, nature education, and native plant resources and research findings. For more information or photos beyond those on the newsroom site, please contact:

    Media Manager
Barbra Rodriguez

July 1, 2008

New Texas Organization to Combat Invasive Plants and Pests

Austin - Texas has joined more than 25 states with organizations established specifically to protect native species from invasive plants and pests. The Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council (TIPPC) has 96 charter members, including representatives of state and federal agencies, local governments, higher education, landowners, conservation organizations and green industry.

The council was born at the second statewide Invasive Plant Conference held last November and approved its bylaws and appointed a steering committee earlier this year. The objectives of TIPPC are to promote understanding and awareness of the impact of invasive species in Texas, provide a forum to exchange scientific, educational and technical information, and support research and restoration activities that reduce the impact of invasive plants and pests statewide.

Invasive plant and animal species spread easily in today's global commerce network and are difficult and costly to control. Invasive species impede industries, threaten agriculture and, in some cases, endanger human health. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, invasive species impact nearly half of the species currently listed as Threatened or Endangered under the U.S. Federal Endangered Species Act. One study estimated that the annual cost of addressing invasive species nationally is more than $135 billion each year. 

Texas is under attack by a host of plants and pests with exotic names such as Tamarisk, Giant Salvinia, Hydrilla, Emerald Ash Borer and Channeled Applesnail. These invaders threaten the health of Texas' native ecosystems by decreasing biodiversity, threatening the survival of native plants and animals and interfering with ecosystem processes that include nutrient flow and flooding.

Stakeholders from state and federal agencies, conservation organizations, higher education, green industry and the public sector had long discussed the need for one unified body to address the threat of invasive species in Texas.

The new organization will be governed by an interim board until a general election is organized. Membership in TIPPC is open to individuals, corporate and institutional entities.

According to acting Board President, Damon Waitt, Senior Botanist at the Wildflower Center, "Over half the states in the U.S. have established invasive species councils (www.naeppc.org). Forming the Texas Council will not only help Texas pull together, it will also foster national cooperation to address a threat that knows no geopolitical boundaries."

Information about TIPPC is available online at www.texasinvasives.org. For more information, contact TIPPC Secretary, Scott Walker (SWalker@PIRNIE.COM) 512-370-3864 or TIPPC President, Damon Waitt (dwaitt@wildflower.org) 512-232-0110.

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