SAFFORD — On Jan. 11, the Gila Watershed Partnership is providing an opportunity to hear from regional experts on the tamarisk leaf beetle.
At the partnership’s afternoon steering committee meeting, from 2-4 p.m., Dr. Carol Sutherland will speak about recent monitoring and sightings of the tamarisk leaf beetle as close as Lordsburg, N.M. Sutherland is the extension entomologist at New Mexico State University and the state entomologist for New Mexico Department of Agriculture.
In addition to the afternoon session, GWP will be hosting a second public meeting in the evening from 7-9 p.m. Ben Bloodworth, program coordinator for the tamarisk coalition, will be the guest speaker and will continue the discussion on the tamarisk leaf beetle and potential impact to the Gila Valley.
The tamarisk leaf beetle is an approved biological control agent that has been released in the western United States for the control of tamarisk (saltcedar), and is proving effective in that capacity.
However, secondary impacts related to tamarisk beetle activity have arisen, including detrimental effects to an endangered species, the Southwestern willow flycatcher, if nesting in tamarisk stands.
While original approved releases occurred more than a decade ago in Utah, and subsequently in Texas, natural dispersal and spread have distributed the beetle through the Southwest, and its arrival in southern Arizona, including the Gila River watershed, is imminent.
This presentation will discuss the history of release and spread, current and predicted distribution, and effects of the beetle on overall ecosystem health
Both free, open-to-the public meetings are hosted by the Gila Watershed Partnership and will be held at the Graham County General Services Building in the main assembly room.
GWP is a nonprofit agency that works to improve the health of the upper Gila Watershed and its communities in Graham and Greenlee counties. GWP holds a free public meeting on the second Wednesday of each month in order to connect local residents to the work being done throughout the watershed. Each meeting features one or more speakers giving a presentation about a different aspect of the watershed.