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In Drought-Stricken Southwest, A War Against an Invasive Tree

In this Yale Environment 360 video, journalist Jon Brand reports on the controversy over the tamarisk tree, or salt cedar, which has been a fixture in West Texas since the late 1800s, when settlers imported it from the Mediterranean. As salt cedar has spread throughout the southwestern U.S., it has increasingly been vilified as a water-sucking species that exacerbates the region’s droughts

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In an e360 video, journalist Jon Brand reports on the controversy over the tamarisk tree, or salt cedar, which has been a fixture in West Texas since the late 1800s, when settlers imported it from the Mediterranean. As salt cedar has spread throughout the southwestern U.S., it has been vilified as a water-sucking menace in an already arid region.

States in the Southwest spend millions of dollars each year on pesticides and herbivorous beetles to control salt cedar. Now, however, studies suggest that salt cedar uses up no more water than native species and that the spread of salt cedar is largely due to changes in hydrology caused by building dams and irrigation canals. This video explores both sides of the debate over salt cedar and examines whether the battle against it is a misguided use of public funds.