MSU and the DDRS are custodians of a pristine section of the northern Chihuahuan Desert with bluffs, canyons, streams, and springs that shelter and provide habitats for a diversity of living things. The region has never been plowed, and it has been ungrazed by domesticated ungulates for over 50 years.  Occasionally, feral burros are known to visit the site. The twin objectives of MSU guideliens regarding use of the Station are to prevent the invasion of alien or invasive plants and to control the inadvertent introduction of a non-native plant species.

Invasive plants are typically from biomes on other continents that share a common climate. They are capable of surviving and breeding in the Chihuahuan Desert, and the natural checks and balances of their home ecosystem are lacking in Southwest Texas.

Some invasive plants are native to the region, but cultural changes may have reduced the features that kept their growth in check.

Invasive Plant Control

The following rules assist in keeping invasive and alien plant species out of DDRS. When you explore the site, please:

  1. Restrict food preparation to the kitchen, patio grill, or any DDRS-staff established, permanent, marked fire pits;
  2. When you leave DDRS, do NOT leave behind any plant materials. Pack out all fruits with seeds and the seeds themselves (e.g., apple cores, cherry pits, peach stones, pecans, walnuts, tomatoes), root-vegetables (e.g., potatoes, carrots, radishes), and bulbs or corms (e.g., onions, lilies, tulips) that you brought with you;
  3. When you work in the field away from headquarters and take food with you on your trek, pack all refuse (plant materials and trash—biodegradable and otherwise) back to headquarters and dispose of it in appropriate containers;
  4. Do NOT bring any aquarium or garden plants (whether native or non-native) on site;
  5. Do NOT plant or bury any fruits, seeds, bulbs, rhizomes, corms, roots, or stems on the property—even as a planting around the headquarters building or any facilities—without obtaining the expressed written permission of the Director of DDRS in a specific letter that is counter-signed by the Dean of Science and Mathematics and the President of the University—even if the plant is beautiful and seems harmless—and especially if it does well in your lawn or garden;
  6. When possible use toilets in the headquarters area for bowel movements, but if you must defecate while away from headquarters, your waste should be buried a minimum of 50 cm (about 1.5 ft) deep;
  7. If you encounter a plant that you believe is an alien species to DDRS, contact your instructor and/or the Director of DDRS and report its location—do not remove it without permission; and
  8. Dispose of any wastes in the approved, covered waste receptacles.
Use of Alien Species in Experimental Studies

The use of alien species in experiments, as controls, bait, comparisons, etc. must be approved by the expressed, written permission of the Director after consultation with the members of the Science Advisory Panel. The permission must be in a direct, specific letter that is counter-signed by the Dean of Science and Mathematics and the President of the University. The experimental plants must be sacrificed and removed as soon as the study is completed, and the scientists must affirm in writing that all the introduced plants have been removed from DDRS. 

Removal of Alien Plants

Alien species must be identified unequivocally, but then should be removed as soon as possible to prevent their spread using the most conservative technique possible to prevent damage to the ecosystem. Whenever possible, the plant(s) should be dug from the habitat with all roots and placed in a black plastic bag for removal from DDRS. For epiphytes (either photosynthetic or parasitic) remove as much tissue of the host-plant as necessary to eliminate the alien, and then place both the host tissue and the alien plant in a black plastic bag.

Whenever possible, herbarium specimens should be prepared of the pest plant for on-site identification purposes with duplicates sent to appropriate repositories.

Chemical removal should be a last resort and must conform to the following policies of pesticide, herbicide application.