Beetle vs. Bird: Expert Panel Weighs in on Biocontrol of Invasive Tamarisk Trees

Anna Sher Simon:  “Tamarisk was introduced to the Western U.S. from Eurasia in the late 1800s, and over the next 50 years it was widely planted as a fast-growing, drought-resistant ornamental and riverbank stabilizer.  However, the negative impacts of the tree were increasingly evident, leading to the passage of a national bill to address the issue.”  Source:

GR:  Tamarisk became invasive, replacing native plants, and sucking up lots of water that people wanted.  It also became home to an endangered bird species.  An introduced beetle effectively kills the tree, but also eliminates the endangered bird’s habitat.  What to do.

Land managers conclude:  “Our primary task, therefore, is to promote desirable replacement vegetation whenever and wherever we can, taking advantage of the opportunity the beetles create and mitigating any unintended effects. The panelists’ report, expected this spring, is a first step in that direction.”

WELL DUH. Why weren’t restoration and unintended effects considered in the first place?  In many similar instances of “land-use management,” the U.  S. Bureau of Land Management, and most other public land-management agencies, fail to plan ahead.  They praise “adaptive management,” and then do not collect the necessary information.  They just don’t look before they leap, and they don’t look back to see why their shoes stink.