Invasive plant plaguing public waterways

Arnudo Donax is an invasive, reed-like plant that can grow to over 20 feet high.

The Nueces River Authority informed the Commissioners about an invasive plant species called Arundo Donax. The giant reed-like plant can grow to over 20 feet in height.
The River Authority is on high alert about this plant because its giant reeds choke riverside and stream channels, crowds out native plants, interferes with flood control, increases fire potential and reduces habitat for wildlife, the fibrous root mats can create debris dams behind bridges, culverts and other structures, it also ignites easily and has high heat burn. A rapid grower, one tiny fragment can float downstream or be relocated when dirt is moved and take root easily. Once established, the giant reed has the ability to outcompete and completely suppress native vegetation.
Eradication is only possible by treating with herbicide by a licensed applicator. After treatment the plant must stay in place for two years before it can carefully be removed or burned.
The Nueces River Authority spokesperson, Jenny Lawrence stated, the plant was first found in 2010 along the waterways the Authority watches. As of today 72 miles of headwaters and streams are home to the Arundo Donax. The plant has been spotted on the Nueces, Dry Frio, Sabinal and Frio Rivers.
Lawrence further asked the Commissioners to be mindful when doing road or bridge work or mowing and bulldozing near waterways. The tiny fragments can easily be disturbed and redistributed. The giant reed may appear to be dead when dried and brown but is in fact just dormant. One acre of plant can negatively affect forty-eight acre- feet of water.
If property owners have this plant they should contact the NRA for information before attempting to remove. The Uvalde Office can be reached at 830-278-6810; the Coastal Bend Office in Corpus Christi at 361-653-2110.
The Nueces River Authority (NRA), was created in 1935 by the Texas Legislature. The NRA does not tax, issue permits or regulate. It does not receive state or federal appropriations or tax revenues. Income comes mainly from contracted services.
The NRA’s jurisdiction includes all or part of 22 South Texas counties, 17,500 square miles extending from Rocksprings to the Gulf of Mexico. The Nueces Basin is about 235 miles long and 115 miles wide, encompassing parts of the Texas Hill Country, Brush Country and the Coastal Plains. The basin is divided into The Upper Basin (3100 square miles known as the Hill Country); The Middle Basin (south of The Hill Country within about 60 miles of the coastline); and The Lower Basin (a 60-mile corridor along the Gulf Coast in the Nueces and adjoining coastal basin known as the Coastal Bend).
The NRA is governed by a 21-member board of directors. Tomas Ramirez, III, the only local representative, serves as the secretary-treasurer.
By Trina Williams
Staff Writer