KPBS Televised Broadcast

TCDC supporter, Michael Bovee, produced the following video describing one aspect of TCDC’s response to the threat produced by Sahara mustard. This report was broadcast on KPBS television and radio on June 18, 2014.

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Sahara Mustard
Life Cycle Slideshow

Learn how to recognize invasive Sahara Mustard from seeds and tiny sprouts to large, mature plants.

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Borrego Knows Best

San Diego County Board of Supervisors agreed Borrego Knows Best when it made its final determination on Rudyville on September 12, 2018.

Check out our campaign video, Borrego Knows Best


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

— Margaret Mead


"Don't wait for the cavalry to come over the hill to save you. You are the cavalry and had better save yourselves."

— Robert Lee Paul

Glyph of Sun


Tubb Canyon Desert Conservancy

October 2019

Tubb Canyon Desert Conservancy wins Cal-IPC Policy Award for Sahara Mustard Biocontrol Program

Riverside, CA, October 16, 2019 --- The Tubb Canyon Desert Conservancy (TCDC) is this year’s recipient of the California Invasive Plant Council’s (Cal-IPC) Policy Award. This award is presented “for exceptional contributions to invasive plant management and the protection of California ecosystems.” The presentation was made during Cal-IPC’s annual meeting which was held this year at the Riverside Convention Center.

Doug Johnson, Executive Director of Cal-IPC, said TCDC was selected as the recipient of the Policy Award because of TCDC’s program to combat the spread of Sahara mustard in the deserts of California and the American Southwest. Mr. Johnson said, “TCDC’s effort is an exceptional program that has successfully combined cutting-edge science with focused policy advocacy on the federal level.”

In 2014, TCDC launched a multi-year, three-phase program to find a safe and effective biocontrol agent capable of addressing the invasion of Sahara mustard in the United States. Using the latest DNA sequencing techniques, and in partnership with the University of California, Irvine and the USDA’s European Biologic Control Laboratory (EBCL) in Montpellier, France, TCDC’s program has identified the precise locations around the Mediterranean Sea where the specific populations of Sahara mustard that have invaded the United States originated.

Building upon the success of the first phases of the program, in 2019 TCDC coordinated the support of stakeholders from across the southwestern United States who are also confronting the threat of Sahara mustard. These stakeholders—State and National Parks, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, and governmental agencies—wrote letters and contacted their congressional representatives to request that the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) complete TCDC’s biocontrol program as part of its 2020-2025 Action Plan (Borrego Sun, August 8, 2019). On August 19, 2019, in a letter to ten members of the United States House of Representatives, the director of ARS confirmed her agency would complete the scientific studies as requested (Borrego Sun, September 19, 2019).

Accepting the 2019 Policy Award, TCDC President J. David Garmon, M.D. expressed his appreciation for the individuals and organizations who have supported this effort to combat Sahara mustard: “They say it takes a village to raise a child. I would add that it also takes a village, or two, to impact policy decisions at the federal level. Without the support of generous donors like Audrey Steele Burnand and the Borrego Valley Endowment Fund, brilliant scientists at UCI and the EBCL, and engaged members of Congress like Susan Davis, we would never have come this far in combatting one of the most dire threats to desert ecosystems in the American Southwest.”

August 2019

USDA-ARS Administrator Commits to TCDC Effort to Control Sahara Mustard

Washington DC, August 19, 2019—In a letter to ten members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, Administrator of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), committed her organization to “include studies on identifying and assessing potential biocontrol agents that can be used for Sahara mustard mitigation and eradication” as part of ARS’s upcoming 2020-2025 Action Plan. In her letter Dr. Jacobs-Young identifies the European Biological Control Laboratory (EBCL) in Montpelier, France as the ideal location for these studies to take place because “Sahara mustard is native to this region and has not to date developed invasive characteristics that threaten its native ecosystem, which suggests natural predators already play a role in keeping it in check.”

Dr. Jacobs-Young’s letter was in response to a July 26, 2019 letter sent to her by ten members of the U.S. House of Representatives—five members from California, five members from Arizona, and all from districts threatened by the invasion of Sahara Mustard. In their letter, these congressional representatives requested ARS find a biocontrol agent for Sahara Mustard as part of its 2020-2025 Action Plan.

The studies Dr. Jacobs-Young agreed to include in ARS’s 2020-2025 Action Plan are Phase III of a multi-year, three-phase effort initiated by the Tubb Canyon Desert Conservancy (TCDC) in 2014. Phases I and II have been completed. They used next-generation, high throughput DNA sequencing to identify specific locations in Sahara Mustard’s native range around the Mediterranean in which to search for biocontrol agents that are most likely to be effective against the particular populations of Sahara Mustard that have invaded the United States.

In response to Dr. Jacobs-Young’s letter, David Garmon, President of TCDC noted the importance of USDA-ARS’s participation in this effort: “In partnership with the University of California, Irvine and EBCL we were able to complete the first two phases of this project, but only USDA-ARS has the scientific expertise, the decades of experience, the safety protocols, and the biocontainment laboratories necessary to complete this third and final phase. With ARS now committed to our project we have maximized the chances of finding a safe and effective biocontrol agent against Sahara Mustard.”

J. David Garmon, MD
President, TCDC


Archive of TCDC Updates