Texas Invasive Plant Conference Seeks to Combat Growing Threat

by | Oct 23, 2007 | Pressroom

AUSTIN, Texas-The Texas Invasive Plant Conference November 14-17 at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center plans to hear about the latest threats posed by non-native invasive plants and strategies for combating them.

The purpose of the conference is to inform and educate the public, land managers, researchers and others on the serious impact invasive plants have on biodiversity, native flora, fauna and natural ecosystems. Through presentations, panel discussions, workshops, trade exhibits, symposia and other outreach activities, participants will learn to identify and manage invasive plants that are rapidly out-competing native plants and wildlife.

Damon Waitt, Wildflower Center senior botanist and conference co-chair, said establishing a statewide organization to evaluate the threat of invasive species in Texas is a primary objective for this year’s conference.

“Texas is missing out on many opportunities because it has failed to establish such an organization,” Waitt said. “All over the country, states are establishing invasive species counsels and management groups. A big purpose of this conference is to establish a statewide organization with diverse interests that shares in the common goal to protect Texas from the threat of invasive plants.”

Early detection and rapid response is key to effective control of invasive species.

“Invasive plants are like a disease; the earlier you treat it the greater your chance of success. If you give the disease a chance to spread, it becomes more difficult and more costly to control.” said Waitt

The last day of the conference, November 17, is open to the public. Expert scientists and gardeners will discuss innovative prevention methods, and will give gardening tips for avoiding invasive plants.

The first two days of the conference will feature professional meetings for state and federal land management specialists, environmental organizations, university researchers and land restoration consultants.

A featured part of the program will spotlight King Ranch Bluestem, a non-native invasive plant that is rapidly spreading throughout fields and roadsides in Texas, crowding out native plants and suppressing small animal diversity. The symposium on Old World Bluestem will be held from 8:30 AM- 3:00 PM. November 15. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service State Botanist Chris Best will chair and topics will include genetics, methods of control and the impact of these imported grasses on ecosystems.

Robert Howells, retired Texas Parks and Wildlife Department aquatic ecologist, will present a three-hour workshop on invasive aquatic plant identification on November 16.

Other half-day activities on Nov 16 include a session on “Developing an Invasive Species List for Texas” by Norma Fowler, University of Texas at Austin Section of Integrative Biology and Matt McCaw of the City of Austin Water Quality Protection Lands program will conduct a tour of terrestrial invaders of Texas– hikes through the lower Bear Creek Unit near Buda and the Onion Creek Management Unit between Driftwood and Kyle.

Sponsors of the conference include the Texas Forest Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association, the National Biological Information Infrastructure, Texas Parks and Wildlife, the Native Plant Society of Texas, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, theLower Colorado River Authority and The Nature Conservancy.

For more information about the conference, visit