Healthy Creeks Initiative & Arundo Control

Arundo donax, commonly called Arundo, giant reed, or carrizo cane, is a highly invasive, non-native grass with the potential to significantly damage the health of Hill Country streams and rivers by affecting water quality and quantity, worsening flooding, displacing native plants, destabilizing banks, contributing to erosion, increasing fire risk, and harboring other invasive species such as feral hogs. Targeted, aquatic-approved herbicide application is used to gain control of significant Arundo infestations. This control method has the least impact on the stream ecosystem and is currently being provided at no cost to landowners in priority areas. In some areas, re-seeding or planting of native plants and control of other invasive plants is needed to support establishment of healthy, strong, native vegetation along the creeks. Our ultimate goal is to help restore healthy stream function and improve habitats beside and within the creek. These measures will benefit our state fish, Guadalupe Bass, found only in the Hill Country.

In the Nueces River basin, the Pull.Kill.Plant. initiative has been a leader and model for successful management of Arundo through building partnerships with riverside landowners along the Frio, Dry Frio, Sabinal, and Nueces rivers in priority areas. More than 300 acres of Arundo along 90 river miles have been treated over the past 7 years. This effort is led by the Nueces River Authority with support from TPWD.

In late 2015, the Healthy Creeks Initiative to manage Arundo in the Hill Country began with surveys and demonstration treatments by TPWD in partnership with Hill Country Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, City of Fredericksburg, and several private landowners. In 2016, the initiative began to implement large-scale management of Arundo on Hill Country streams. Through building partnerships with the TxDOT and river and creekside landowners in the headwaters of the Blanco and Pedernales rivers, these initial efforts have been highly successful over the past two years (see project map). In 2018, efforts are continuing and expanding to the Upper Medina and Upper Guadalupe river basins through partnerships with Upper Guadalupe River Authority and Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District.

Get Involved!

100% landowner participation is essential to maximizing the success of this project. Interested landowners in priority areas should email healthycreeks@tpwd.texas.gov or reach out to the local contacts provided in these downloadable information packets:

What's Happening

  • Preparation for 2018 surveys and treatments of Arundo and other invasive plants is underway, with plans to seed or re-plant some treated areas in late 2018 or early 2019. Workshop dates will be posted here soon. Read the Spring 2018 Update.
  • Previously treated Arundo canes need to be left in place to ensure the plants are dead and help the native vegetation recover. Please don’t mow the Arundo!
  • Ongoing biological monitoring of creekside plant communities, aquatic life, water quality and quantity, and changes in the shape of Barons Creek (Upper Pedernales) over time will provide insights on how Arundo management benefits creek health. Early results suggest management efforts are not harming aquatic life and are likely to greatly improve diversity of native species.
  • The new Arundo Control Man Prevention Program for Texas kicks off in spring 2018 to help spread the word about how to prevent new infestations and re-infestation of managed areas through mowing and construction.

Infested creek before and after treatment
Arundo infestation, before and a few months after treatment