"From a water and range standpoint, saltcedar is fast becoming our worst nightmare," said Allan McGinty, Texas Cooperative Extension range specialist in San Angelo, and a symposium coordinator.

"Saltcedar or ‘Tamarix' is the most widely distributed invasive, non-native, woody plant species growing along our streams and waterways," McGinty said. "This plant first came into the United States as an ornamental back in the early 1800s. Since then, it has literally gone wild along our western waterways, where it rapidly chokes out our native plants, blocks water movement, uses precious water and increases water salinity.

"This program's purpose is to bring anyone affected by the tree up-to-date on the large amount of work and research going on to combat it and the control programs in progress in Texas and other states,” he noted. “This is the first in-depth meeting we've had on the species in our area. If you've got this awful problem and have questions, there will be someone at the meeting with the answer, if there is one."

More than 30 speakers from across the Southwest will be speaking on the many issues associated with saltcedar. They will represent various agencies and universities including the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas Water Resource Institute, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, New Mexico State University, Arizona State University and Angelo State University.

Also involved are various organizations with special expertise in saltcedar management, including Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Fort Worth Zoo, Racher Resource Management, BASF Corporation and the Tamarix Coalition.

Presentations on the first day will deal with saltcedar's history and biology, threatened and endangered species issues associated with saltcedar control, and water use by saltcedar.

The second day's session will tackle the issue of saltcedar control and management, and will include updates on various saltcedar control projects across the southwestern United States.

The symposium will be held in the San Angelo Convention Center at 500 Rio Concho Drive. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. July 16. The program begins at 8:30 a.m. the first day.

Eleven Texas Department of Agriculture continuing education units will be offered to pesticide applicators.

Sponsors include Texas Cooperative Extension, Center for Grazing Lands and Ranch Management - Texas A&M University, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service's EQIP Program.

Pre-registration by June 30 is $75 per person. Registration after June 30 and at the door will be $100 per person. Registration covers refreshments at breaks, lunch on both days, and an evening social as well as a copy of the symposium proceedings, which will include papers from all presenters.

For further information or to register for the symposium, contact the Center for Grazinglands and Ranch Management, Texas A&M University (1-888-799-4442, e-mail: cgrm@tamu.edu or http://cnrit.tamu.edu/cgrm).

Steve Byrns is a writer for the Texas A&M University Extension Service.

e-mail: s-byrns@tamu.edu