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Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov [SL]

TPWD Website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us

TPWD News Release — June 11, 2010

TPWD Will Hold Public Meeting on Prospective List of Exotic Aquatic Plants

AUSTIN – Many aquaria and landscape enthusiasts and lovers of aquatic wildlife appreciate both the beauty and functionality of aquatic plants, but the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department wants to ensure the introduction of non-native plants will not harm the state’s natural resources.

In an effort to allow businesses to sell and residents to use some non-native plants while adhering to its mission of wildlife protection and conservation, TPWD will hold a public meeting to gather input regarding which exotic aquatic plants to consider for sale and use in Texas. The meeting is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 29, in the Commissioner’s Hearing Room at TPWD headquarters, 4200 Smith School Road.

The Texas Legislature has directed TPWD to create a list of approved exotic aquatic plants that must be finalized by the end of the year. The use of a list of approved plant species is a departure from the department’s present use of a list of prohibited species to restrict the importation and sale of certain non-native plants.

Presently, possession of some non-native plants is prohibited while the possession of other non-native species is allowed with a permit. This system requires the department to continually monitor and update the prohibited list as new species are brought into Texas.

Ken Kurzawski, inland fisheries program manager, said several varieties of invasive plants enter Texas through the plant industry, a situation that necessitates cooperation between the plant sellers and TPWD.

“We need the public’s input to determine which exotic aquatic plants are being bought and sold in Texas,” Kurzawski said. “If we don’t know about (a specific plant), we can’t evaluate it for possible inclusion on the approved list.”

Each species considered for the approved list must pass a scientific risk analysis before it will be added to the list to ensure that it does not have the potential to negatively impact the state’s aquatic resources.

A draft of the list of proposed exotic aquatic plants under consideration for approval for possession and sale in Texas can be found at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business/feedback/public_comment/proposals/exotic_aquatic_plants/.

For more information, contact Earl Chilton at (512) 389-4652; earl.chilton@tpwd.texas.gov, or Ken Kurzawski at (512) 389-4591; ken.kurzawski@tpwd.texas.gov

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