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Giant reed clogging Sabino Canyon

Removal training set for Nov. 2, 9

Giant reed: good for erosion control, musical instruments

Giant reed: good for erosion control, musical instruments

Move over buffelgrass, there’s a new weed in town.

Giant reed, a 20-foot perennial brought to the U.S. from India in the 1820s, is clogging the streambeds across the Southwest. In Sabino Canyon, the bamboo-like stalks crowd out native species and alter erosion patterns, so the Coronado National Forest is planning a removal effort, said spokeswoman Heidi Schewel.

“With adequate habitat it can spread very fast, and in Sabino Canyon we have that habitat,” said Schewel, a weed biologist.

The huge grass – used in landscaping, erosion control and woodwind instrument reeds – is common across the West, according to the Nature Conservancy, which helped the National Park Service draw up an invasive species Least Wanted List.

It is mainly found in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, but also in Georgia and the Chesapeake Bay area.

Next month, the Forest Service will train team leaders for a removal effort Nov. 2 and Nov. 9. Stalks will be cut, bundled and hauled away, and the roots will be dug up, bagged and also removed, according to a Coronado news release.

Invasive species have become a topic of concern across the nation. Non-native plants and animals are responsible for billions of dollars of damage and numerous deaths every year.

Crop loss alone was estimated at more than $2 billion annually in 1992, and Asian import West Nile virus had killed 1,089 Americans as of June, according to a federal invasive species plan released last month.

It is the first update of a plan ordered by President Clinton in 1999. The plan does not spell out how to deal with each species. It defines roles for various arms of government and sets up a structure for them to cooperate.

Arizona completed a similar plan in August. Gov. Janet Napolitano ordered that plan, which lays out how state agencies will cooperate to identify and eradicate non-native plants and animals, in 2006.

The invasion of Giant reeds in Sabino has not gone unnoticed by visitors, Schewel said.

“Over the years people have been stopping by the visitor’s center to complain,” she said.

Coronado National Forest has plans to have volunteers remove tall reeds in the Sabino Canyon area.

Coronado National Forest has plans to have volunteers remove tall reeds in the Sabino Canyon area.

A tram makes its way through Sabino Canyon on Thursday. The invasive species of reed is at left.

A tram makes its way through Sabino Canyon on Thursday. The invasive species of reed is at left.

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INVASIVE SPECIES

A species that is (1) non-native to the ecosystem under consideration and (2) whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm, or harm to human health

Source: Department of Interior’s National Invasive Species Management Plan

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IF YOU GO

What: Removal of giant reeds from Sabino Canyon streambed

When: Nov. 2 and 9

Where: Sabino Canyon Recreation Area

To register: E-mail Mark or Jean Henges-baugh at markheng21@comcast.net or jeanheng10@comcast.net

More information: Call Heidi Schewel, 388-8484

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On the Web

National Park Service invasive species Least Wanted List: www.nps.gov/plants/alien/factmain.htm#pllists

National Invasive Species Information Center: www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov

Coronado National Forest: www.fs.fed.us/r3/coronado/

Arizona Invasive Specie Advisory Council: azgovernor.gov/ais/

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