Choked Out: Battling Invasive Giant Cane (Arundo Donax) Along the Rio Grande/Bravo Borderlands
Mark Briggs1*, Helen M. Poulos2, Jeff Renfrow3, Javier Ochoa-Espinoza4, David Larson5, Patty Manning6, and Joe Sirotnak7, Kelon Crawford8
1RiversEdge West, Tucson, AZ;;; (520) 548-4045
2Wesleyan University
3Rio Grande Scientific Support Services
4Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas
5Big Bend National Park
6Sul Ross State University (retired)
7Bureau of Land Management
8Rio Grande Scientific Support Services
Biological invasions have myriad negative impacts on native biota and human livelihoods, worldwide. Along the U.S.-Mexico border, giant cane (Arundo donax), an aggressive non-native grass, grows in dense, nearly impenetrable stands along hundreds of kilometers of the Rio Grande/Bravo (RGB). Between 2008 and 2018, a diverse, multisector binational-team treated giant cane along 90 Km of this binational stretch of the river to improve aquatic and riparian conditions for native species as well as to enhance river access for riverside citizens and visitors. Monitoring of riparian plant cover over a ten-year period reveal significant reduction in giant cane cover and recovery of native woody riparian plant taxa.  However, continued management and monitoring is needed to better understand the long-term efficacy of this effort. As part of our presentation, we will highlight:
  • The methods used to manage giant cane;
  • The debate – Central points that our binational team discussed as part of making the decision to move forward with a concerted effort to manage giant cane;
  • Results: In addition to highlighting results of long-term riparian vegetation monitoring, we will also discuss other general takeaways from this work, including impacts of giant cane management on channel morphology, site conditions that appear to have a strong bearing on the effectiveness of management actions, working binationally, and the introduction of biologic agents to manage giant cane.
  • Taking stock as we look to the future.