Healthy Creeks Initiative & Arundo Control

Arundo donax, also commonly called 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.

In the Nueces River basin, the "Pull.Kill.Plant." initiative to manage Arundo has been highly successful with 202 (nearly all) riverside landowners along the Frio, Dry Frio, Sabinal, and Nueces Rivers in priority areas banding together to treat ~300 acres along 90 river miles over the past 7 years. Although monitoring continues with follow-up treatments as needed, this effort led by the Nueces River Authority with support from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) serves as a model for a successful Arundo management partnership.

In 2016, the "Healthy Creeks Initiative" kickstarted efforts to expand invasive Arundo management in the Hill Country to include the headwaters of the Blanco and Pedernales Rivers. This initiative is a partnership between more than 130 landowners on the Blanco and Pedernales rivers, the Hill Country Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, the City of Fredericksburg, Texas Department of Transportation, and TPWD to implement large-scale management of Arundo on Hill Country streams using targeted, aquatic-approved herbicide application. This control method has the least impact on the stream ecosystem and is currently being provided at no cost to the landowners.

Ultimately, our goal is to help restore healthy stream function and habitats beside and within the creek—including improving habitat for our state fish, the Guadalupe Bass, which is exclusive to the Texas Hill Country.

What's Happening

  • Preparation for 2017 Arundo treatments is underway:
    • In the Upper Pedernales watershed (Fredericksburg area), 65 landowners have already signed up to participate. Approximately 13 acres of Arundo were mapped and treated in 2016 along 6 river miles. On the Blanco River, 68 landowners have already signed up to participate. Approximately five acres of Arundo were mapped and treated in 2016 along 12 river miles.
    • Next steps include survey and retreatment of Arundo patches as needed, survey and treatment of new areas, efforts to seed native species in areas where large infestations were treated, and surveys to keep an eye on other problematic invasives that may try to sweep in to replace the Arundo.
    • 100% landowner participation is essential to maximizing the success of this project. Contact us to join the initiative.
  • Ongoing biological monitoring on Barons Creek (Upper Pedernales) studies how the Arundo, treatment of the Arundo, and the use of herbicides affect the shape of the creek, creekside plant communities, aquatic life, and water quality and quantity. Early results suggest Arundo management efforts are likely to greatly improve diversity of aquatic life. Monitoring continues in 2017.

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


2016 Progress Reports

For more details, contact healthy.creeks@tpwd.texas.gov or call:
Ryan McGillicuddy (Blanco River) 512-552-3713
Monica McGarrity (Pedernales River & tributaries) 512-552-3465

Learn More