On Monday, June 12th, volunteers joined staff from the Hill Country Alliance and Native American Seed at the Texas Tech University (TTU) Llano River Field Station in Junction, Texas. There, they set fort an ambitious goal: control the more than 100 Chinaberry trees that are quickly spreading their footprint along the Llano River at the TTU field station.
Chinaberry trees were first introduced to Texas from Asia in the mid-1800s and continue to be used as an ornamental yard tree today. Bill Neiman, owner of Native American Seed in Junction, notes, “The Chinaberry tree has left homes and neighborhoods and found its way to invade many of Texas’ sensitive riparian areas. And the Llano River has her fair share. But thanks to Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Hill Country Alliance, an initiative is being launched to raise awareness about the importance of invasive species control along our precious rivers.”
When this non-native tree invades river bottoms, it can degrade the quality of wildlife habitat and decrease livestock forage. Chinaberry trees have greater resistance to native insects and pathogens, and can change the character of the soil around them, making it even harder for some native plants to thrive.
“It’s amazing what a few committed volunteers and partnering organizations can accomplish. In just a few hours, we were able to complete the Chinaberry control project,” said Daniel Oppenheimer, Land Program Manager with the Hill Country Alliance. “With the right partners, supplies, and best management practices, these types of community-based stewardship projects can be replicated effectively in other Hill Country river basins.”
Volunteers employed a “hack-and-squirt” method, using hatchets and herbicide that was applied to each hatchet-cut wound in the Chinaberry tree trunk. These treated chinaberry trees will be monitored by Texas Parks & Wildlife, the Llano River Watershed Alliance, and the TTU field station to inform future management needs.
The Hill Country Alliance is a nonprofit organization whose purpose is to raise public awareness and build community support around the need to preserve the natural resources and heritage of the Central Texas Hill Country. Visit us at www.hillcountryalliance.org.