Eradication & Management

The McFerraz report issued by the Roswell office of the Bureau of Land Management gives a detailed plan of action for the removal of saltcedar. The plan employs the main eradication techniques that exist today: mechanical (removal by hand or machine), chemical (herbicides), biological (insects and animals), and non-mechanical (fire and flooding) control. For areas of low to medium density, the report recommends chainsaw removal, cutting the plant to a height of about three feet in order to treat the cut stands with an herbicide, and then burning the slash. In stands of medium to high density, an excavator with a special bucket would be used to uproot the plants, taking as much of the root system as possible while leaving behind as much soil as possible. For areas of very high density, a bulldozer would be used to uproot plants and collect the slash (which would be burned). The report estimates that an experienced bulldozer operator could clear up to six acres per day.

For treatment with an herbicide, the report recommends the use of imazapyr, a relatively safe and mild acid that inhibits enzyme function in saltcedar. When used in conjunction with glysophate, the herbicide combination "controlled saltcedar to levels of 90% or greater." The herbicide would be applied either by personnel on the ground with backpack sprayers, by vehicles, or from the air by a plane or helicopter. Biological controls are also discussed. Releasing insects to destroy saltcedar can be problematic; there are only a few species that have been approved for release by various government agencies: the mealybug (from Israel) and the leaf beetle (from central Asia). There is always the risk that, when a foreign species is introduced, it could become an invader itself, just like saltcedar did. The report also considers the use of goats to destroy new sprouts after an herbicide treatment or a prescribed burn. The only non-mechanical solution discussed is prescribed burning. The burns would be performed "as an initial treatment or as a follow-up treatment after an initial treatment." Because saltcedar grows faster and uses more water after a fire, burning could not be used as a primary treatment. Each of these various treatments would be used in conjunction with each other " there is no one method that is stand-alone and foolproof. After an area has been eradicated, the report says that the next step is restoration, re-seeding and re-vegetating the area with native plant species, helping to restore the health and natural qualities of riparian ecosystems.