2014 Colorado legislation SB14-195 funds phreatophyte study in the South Platte Basin #COleg

June 18, 2014

From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

Many farmers and others applauded the recent signing of a bill aimed at addressing a major water issue in the region — vegetation along the rivers, which consumes about 40 percent as much water as all cities in northern Colorado combined, studies show.

Signed into law this month, Senate Bill 195, co-sponsored by Scott Renfroe, R-Eaton, allows the Colorado Water Conservancy Board to use funds for a two-year-plus study on the South Platte River watershed where it was impacted by the 2013 flood. The study will attempt to determine the relationship between high groundwater and increases in non-beneficial water consumption of phreatophytes — particularly non-native tamarisk, salt cedars, Russian olives and other such plants along rivers. The bill also calls for developing a cost analysis for the removal of the unwanted phreatophytes in the South Platte Basin. The final report is expected to be presented to the General Assembly by Dec. 31, 2016.

“The amount of plants along the river … and the amount of water we lose because of them … just gets worse and worse every year for us,” said Frank Eckhardt, a LaSalle-area farmer and member of the South Platte Roundtable — a group made up of water officials and experts in the region who convene monthly to discuss ways of solving the region’s future water gaps.

Eckhardt is also chairman of the board for the Western Mutual and Farmers Independent irrigation companies, which, combined, deliver water to about 15,000 acres of farmland in the LaSalle/Gilcrest areas.

Eckhardt said his ditch companies removed some vegetation along their ditches and saw improvements in those water supplies.

The bill talks of the CWCB working with Colorado State University and the Colorado Department of Agriculture on its study, and also notes funding for the study and report could come from unused dollars in an existing $1 million state fund.

“Rather than spend $1 million to study the problem, there’s a lot of us who’d rather see that $1 million go toward more quickly removing some of those plants,” Eckhardt added. “Still, this was a good step.”

A broader study of the South Platte basin, conducted last year by the Colorado Water Institute, showed that phreatophytes continue to increase, resulting in large quantities of non-beneficial consumptive water use — perhaps as much as 250,000 acre feet per year, or 80 billion gallons. According to 2010 Statewide Water Supply Initiative study, all of the South Platte Basin’s municipalities used a little over 600,000 acre feet. That being the case, approval of the study comes as welcome news to many water users and water officials in the ag-intense South Platte River Basin, which includes all or portions of eight of the state’s top-10 ag-producing counties, in addition to many of the fastest growing cities in Colorado.

Many South Platte water users see invasive phreatophytes — deep-rooted plants that obtain water from permanent ground supplies or from the water table — as a major problem and potential threat to agriculture.

In all years, and especially in years like 2012 — one in which rainfall was at a record low, some farmers’ irrigation ditches were running dry and cities were having to watch their supplies closely — many agree some of that water could be going to a more beneficial use than quenching the thirst of vegetation along banks in the South Platte basin.

The Senate Bill 195 study won’t solve the problem, many acknowledge, but it represents another step in the right direction — although some still have questions about the bill.

“There’s still a lot of explanation needed regarding how the dollars will be spent, among other issues,” said Bob Streeter, a South Platte Roundtable member, and head of the roundtable’s phreatophyte committee. “We’re looking forward to having some of that explained to us.”

While Streeter acknowledges that phreatophytes are an issue, he, like others, questions how much water users would actually benefit in the long run if that vegetation was eradicated.

Streeter and others agree some kind of vegetation would be needed in place of the removed phreatophytes because root systems are necessary for keeping the river’s banks from eroding, and vegetation would be needed to provide habitats for wildlife in those areas and flood control.

The study isn’t the first step aimed at the phreatophytes issue. Most recently, the Colorado Youth Corps Association and Colorado Water Conservation Board, a division of the Department of Natural Resources, is funding invasive plant species mitigation projects throughout Colorado in an effort to preserve and protect the state’s water resources. Five projects in 2014 — funded through a $50,000 grant from the CWCB — will be conducted by Colorado Youth Conservation Association-accredited youth corps in conjunction with local project sponsors in four counties throughout the state.

The projects are designed to control a variety of invasive phreatophyte plants. The Weld County Youth Conservation Corps, for example, will receive $15,000 to remove invasive vegetation from riverbanks and sandbars of the South Platte River.

The CWCB, local governments and organizations also have put together other efforts to limit the amount of vegetation that now lines the banks across the state — some of which are plants that couldn’t be found along the river a century ago.

With more thorough studies required and millions of dollars needed to help reduce the number of phreatophytes along rivers, no one is expecting immediate action that would significantly help address the looming water gap.

However, despite the uncertainties, recent years — like 2012 — serve as a reminder that water shortages are likely to be an issue down the road as the population grows in northern Colorado, and all possible solutions need to be thrown on the table to avoid the expected water-supply gap.

The Statewide Water Supply Initiative study estimates the South Platte River Basin alone could face a municipal and industrial water-supply gap of between 36,000 and 190,000 acre feet by 2050.

More invasive specie coverage here.


Tamarisk Coalition “Raft the River” event, June 29 #ColoradoRiver

June 2, 2014
Colorado River -- photo via Wikipedia

Colorado River — photo via Wikipedia

Click here for the inside skinny.


2014 #COLeg: SB14-195, South Platte River Post #COflood Phreatophyte Study, Ag to Appropriations unamended 12-0

May 5, 2014

Click here to read the bill.

More 2014 Colorado Legislation coverage here.


The Weld County Youth Corps Association recently received grant dollars to help mitigate invasive plant species — Greeley Tribune

April 3, 2014

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From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

The Weld County Youth Corps Association recently received grant dollars to help mitigate invasive plant species along the area’s rivers and protect the state’s water resources.

This will likely come as exciting news to water users in northeast Colorado’s South Platte River Basin, who see invasive phreatophyte plants — deep-rooted plants that obtain water from permanent ground supplies or from the water table — as a major problem.

A study conducted last year by the Colorado Water Institute showed that invasive phreatophyte plants continue to increase in the South Platte basin, resulting in large quantities of non-beneficial consumptive water use — perhaps as much as 250,000 acre feet per year, or 80 billion gallons.

According to a news release, the Weld County Youth Conservation Corps will receive $15,000 to remove invasive vegetation from riverbanks and sandbars of the South Platte River.

The project is coordinated with and sponsored by Ducks Unlimited.

The corps will also receive $7,500 to eradicate tamarisk and Russian olive along the St. Vrain River in a project for the Weld County Weed Division.

A total of five projects in 2014 — funded through a $50,000 grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which is a division of the Department of Natural Resources — will be conducted by Colorado Youth Conservation Association-accredited youth corps in conjunction with local project sponsors in four counties throughout the state.

For the South Platte River project, the Weld County Youth Corps Association crew will clear invasive vegetation from three protected properties located along the South Platte River in Weld and Morgan counties. This work will improve the river channel habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife and reduce consumptive water use.

The project will start at Weld County Road 1 and extend about three linear miles toward the confluence with the South Platte River.

The Weld County Youth Corps Association proposal was one of eight representing $105,000 in requests for 14 weeks of work to mitigate these plants throughout the state.

The Weld County Youth Corps Association — serving youth and young adults ages 14-24 — engages its corps members in community and conservation service projects throughout Weld County.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Grand Junction: Riparian Restoration in the Western U.S., February 18, 19, 20

February 7, 2014
Tamarisk

Tamarisk

From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Hannah Holm):

Across the West, stream and riverbanks have been taken over by alien invaders. Tamarisk and Russian Olive form dense thickets that crowd out native plants, degrade wildlife habitat, and cut off access to the water.

As daunting as the scale of this invasion is, a tenacious group of scientists, land managers and weed wranglers are doggedly working to understand and control the problem. Many of these experts will gather in Grand Junction Feb. 18-20 to share their latest discoveries on how to tame the invaders and bring back the native willows and cottonwoods, as well as address other challenges to healthy, accessible streambanks.

The Grand Junction-based Tamarisk Coalition is teaming up with The Water Center at Colorado Mesa University to bring these experts together for the research and management conference titled “Riparian Restoration in the Western U.S.” The conference will involve presentations and workshops highlighting recent advancements and emerging issues in riparian invasive plant management and restoration on Feb. 18-19, and a half-day field trip on Feb. 20 to visit a restoration site in Palisade’s Riverbend Park and the Palisade Insectary, which has played an important role in promoting and studying the spread of a tamarisk-eating beetle.

Conference session topics will include secondary weeds and monitoring, threatened and endangered species considerations in restoration, biological control, partnerships and community, restoration planning, technology, wildlife, and water availability and challenges.

There will also be a half-day workshop on “Bridging the Gap between Land Manager Needs and Scientific Research,” and a presentation on the various ways that gardening practices can encourage or discourage certain kinds of insects, including the destructive emerald ash borer.

This conference offers a great opportunity for land and resource managers, private land owners, researchers, students, and others to convene in a collaborative venue to learn about and discuss the latest trends in riparian restoration and ecology. CMU students can attend for free, although they do need to register under the “scholarship” category.

For complete details on the conference and to register, go to http://www.tamariskcoalition.org/programs/conferences/2014.


#ColoradoRiver District: 2014 Water Resources Grant Program

December 4, 2013
Roaring Fork River

Roaring Fork River

From email from the Colorado River District (Martha Moore):

Effective immediately, the Colorado River District is accepting grant applications for projects that protect, enhance or develop water resources within its 15-county region. (district map)

Projects eligible for the grant program must achieve one or more of the following objectives:

• develop a new water supply
• improve an existing system
• improve instream water quality
• increase water use efficiency
• reduce sediment loading
• implement a watershed management action
• control invasive riparian vegetation
• protect pre-Colorado River Compact water rights (those in use before 1929)

Previous successfully grant-funded projects have included the construction of new water storage, the enlargement of existing water storage or diversion facilities, rehabilitation of nonfunctioning or restricted water storage / delivery / diversion structures, implementation of water efficiency improvements and watershed enhancements.

Successful grantees can receive up to a maximum of $150,000 (or approximately 25% of the total project cost; in the case of smaller projects, this percentage may be slightly higher) for their project. The total amount available for the 2014 competitive grant program is $250,000. The application deadline is Jan. 31, 2014.

To access the Water Resources Grant Program application, instructions, guidelines, policies, and other details please visit http://www.ColoradoRiverDistrict.org/page_193.

More information can be obtained by contacting Dave Kanzer or Alesha Frederick at 970-945-8522 or by e-mail to grantinfo@crwcd.org.

More Colorado River District coverage here.


Tamarisk control: ‘When you get a group of people together, it’s amazing what you can do’ — Jesse Loughman

November 5, 2013
Goat munching tamarisk via The Pueblo Chieftain

Goat munching tamarisk via The Pueblo Chieftain

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Melinda Mawdsley):

Desa Loughman thinks tamarisk and Russian olive trees suck, as in suck up too much water. The Palisade resident is tired of watching the non-native plants choke out native trees and consume large amounts of the Colorado River in Riverbend Park.

“They suck the water. They smother out native plants. They literally suck,” Loughman said.

On [October 14], she and her husband, Jesse Loughman, owners of Colorado Alternative Health Care, organized an informal effort of invasive plant eradication in the popular Palisade park along the Colorado River.

“I hope this inspires people all over Colorado to clean up their rivers,” Loughman said. “When you get a group of people together, it’s amazing what you can do.”

For several hours Sunday, the Loughmans and nearly a dozen other people cut down and removed dozens of plants by the boat launch.

“Look at the beach,” Jesse Loughman joked after a huge area of sand was exposed.

The Loughmans coordinated the effort with Frank Watt, Palisade’s public works director, with the hope he can apply for a future grant to replant native plants, Desa Loughman said.

“Frank has a lot of neat opportunities for the town to do things but doesn’t have the manpower,” she added.

Sunday’s tamarisk and Russian olive destruction day was the latest Lend A Hand effort the Loughmans have coordinated to help beautify Palisade at no extra cost to the town. Another invasive plan eradication day is planned for next spring, but the timing depends on the weather, Desa Loughman said.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


The Western Colorado Conservation Corps scores $10,000 for restoration along the Colorado River mainstem

April 27, 2013

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From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

The Western Colorado Conservation Corps will partner with the Bureau of Land Management to remove invasive tamarisk and Russian olive trees from the banks of the Colorado River. The introduced trees suck up water needed by native flora and fauna.

The funding is the result of a partnership between the Royal Bank of Canada and the Conservation Lands Foundation. The bank is is one of Canada’s largest corporate donors. “We are extremely grateful to RBC for helping us put ‘boots on the ground’ in Colorado,” said Brian O’Donnell, executive director of the Conservation Lands Foundation. “McInnis Canyons and the Colorado River are cornerstones of the National Conservation Lands and important to so many people. RBC’s gift has given this partnership and river an important boost.”

McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area is part of the National Conservation Lands. The National Conservation Lands are a 28-million-acre system of protected lands in the west known for their culturally, ecologically and scientifically significant landscapes managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

The volunteers will also remove Russian knapweed, and plant and protect native Freemont cottonwoods and coyote willow. The re-introduction of these native species will enhance wildlife habitat, help rehabilitate the river corridor and improve water quality.

More restoration/reclamation coverage here and here.


The Center for Biological Diversity files an intent to sue the USDA over management of the tamarisk leaf beetle

March 18, 2013

tamariskleafbeetlesatwork

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

Along with Maricopa Audubon, the CBD last week filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Department of Agriculture and APHIS, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, over their failure to safeguard flycatchers. APHIS promised mitigation if its release of the beetles went awry, but has not taken the steps necessary — including planting native willows and cottonwoods to replace dying tamarisk — to help the endangered flycatchers. “APHIS refuses to clean up its own mess now that its introduction of an exotic, invasive biocontrol agent has gone haywire,” Silver said.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was also included in the notice of intent to sue for failing to protect the flycatcher as required by the Endangered Species Act; another federal agency, the Bureau of Reclamation, was included because its plans to protect the flycatcher in western Arizona are no longer sufficient due to the spread of the beetles. Today’s notice clears the way for litigation against these agencies if they fail to initiate protective actions within 60 days.

Flycatchers frequently nest where tamarisk has displaced native cottonwood and willow trees. A quarter of the birds’ territories are found in areas dominated by tamarisk, and about half are found in areas of mixed tamarisk and native trees.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


CMU: River Crossings Conference will highlight emerging issues in riparian restoration and river management

March 9, 2013

tamarisk.jpg

Click here for the inside skinny from Colorado Mesa University. It sounds like a terrific program. Here’s an excerpt from the website:

River Crossings: Linking River Communities is an interagency river management workshop and research conference presented by the Bureau of Land Management, River Management Society, Tamarisk Coalition, The Water Center at Colorado Mesa University, and International Submerged Lands Management Conference. We are joining together to host a week of presentations, panels and field trips highlighting recent advances and emerging issues in riparian restoration and river management practices.

This event will provide a unique interdisciplinary training opportunity where researchers, students, agency managers and practitioners will present and discuss scientific advances and program learning. Attendees will be able to network with agency and other professionals, and bridge the gap between research and land management.We look forward to seeing you in March!

From the Grand Junction Free Press (Hannah Holm):

Have you noticed tamarisk stands along the Colorado River turning sickly, or just vanishing, turned to stumps? Have you wondered what impact that has on birds and what it takes to reestablish native willows and cottonwoods? Maybe read that some dams up in the Northwest have been removed and wondered how those rivers responded?

You can learn about all this and more as researchers and river managers from around the West descend on the University Center Ballroom at Colorado Mesa University for the River Crossings Conference and Workshop from March 11-15.

The Tamarisk Coalition, River Management Society, Bureau of Land Management, International Submerged Lands Conference and Water Center at CMU are working together to organize the event.

The River Crossings Conference and Workshop will include presentations, panels and field trips highlighting recent advances and emerging issues in riparian restoration and river management practices. Friday field trip options include a float trip down the Ruby-Horsethief Canyon on the Colorado River, a tour of the Colorado Riverfront, a tour to the Palisade Insectary and a tour of restoration projects along the Dolores River near Gateway.

More restoration/reclamation coverage here.


The Middle Colorado River Watershed Partnership is hosting a public educational field tour on November 28

November 17, 2012

coloradoriverdebeque.jpg

From the Middle Colorado River Watershed Partnership:

The Leadership Committee will be meeting at the offices of the Garfield County School District R2-E, on Wednesday, November 28th, 2012, from 8:00 to 9:15 AM. The District offices are located at 339 Whitewater Avenue, Rifle, CO.

We welcome all of our Partners and members of the public to join us for an educational field tour on Wednesday, November 28th beginning at 9:30 AM and running until approximately 11:30 AM. Please RSVP by clicking here. Along with our host, Steve Anthony, Director of Garfield County’s Vegetation Management program, see first-hand the collaborative work on the part of a number of agencies and private landowners to promote tamarisk control within portions of our watershed. We will be looking at two projects currently underway along the mainstem of the Colorado River near Rifle: Lion’s Park and the Gypsum Ranch.

Tour Info Flyer.

Map of Tour Meeting Location.


Tamarisk control: The leaf beetle for biocontrol program is yielding good results

July 18, 2012

tamariskleafbeetle.jpg

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

Efforts to control invasive tamarisk plants along the Arkansas River are looking up, thanks to a boost from some unexpected evolutionary adaptations. A small imported but that eats and kills the water-sucking plants has been expanding its range and reproducing more efficiently after adapting to regional cycles of darkness and light. “This is one of the clearest cases of rapid evolution,” said Tom Dudley, who has been involved in the tamarisk control efforts at UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute Riparian Invasive Research Laboratory. The tamarisk leaf beetle has managed to delay its entry into hibernation to adapt to the shorter days of the southern region of the United States. That adaptation enables the beetle to survive until spring and prolongs the time it has to reproduce.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Drought news: Northern Colorado officials are examining removal of streamside vegetation to increase supplies #CODrought

July 6, 2012

tamarisk.jpg

From The Greeley Tribune (Eric Brown):

Estimates show that trees and shrubs lining the South Platte Basin’s rivers and irrigation ditches — salt cedars, Russian olives, cottonwoods and others — collectively consume hundreds of thousands of acre feet of water each year, although comprehensive studies on the issue in the South Platte Basin are few, and also outdated, some say.

Some experts believe the amount of water consumed by those plants — called phreatophytes — could be rivaling or even surpassing the more than 600,000 acre feet of water that, according to Colorado Department of Natural Resources, were delivered to all of the South Platte Basin’s municipalities in 2010.

And in a year like 2012 — one in which rainfall is at a record-low, some farmers’ irrigation ditches are running dry, and cities are having to watch their supplies closely — many agree some of that water could be going to a more beneficial use than quenching the thirst of vegetation along banks in the South Platte Basin, some of which isn’t native to the area in the first place…

Additionally, some question how much water users would actually benefit in the long run if that vegetation was eradicated. Water officials and environmentalists agree that some kind of vegetation would be needed in place of the removed plants, since root systems are necessary for keeping the river’s banks from eroding, and vegetation would also be needed to provide habitats for wildlife in those areas.

It’s also not clear who would legally be entitled to the water that’s salvaged through eradicating phreatophytes. In recent decades, the state’s water courts have denied requests from individuals wanting to clear their property of trees and shrubs and stake claim to the water that’s saved…

“This issue is certainly on a lot of peoples’ radars right now … but there’s still a lot we don’t know,” said Harold Evans, chairman of the city of Greeley Water and Sewer Board, who also serves on the South Platte Roundtable. “I think we’re all in favor of finding ways to make water more available to users. We just need to learn more about this and see what’s feasible.”[...]

In recent years, the South Platte Roundtable — made up of water officials and experts in the region who convene to discuss ways of solving the water-supply gap — has spearheaded efforts to attain about $250,000 to eradicate the Russian olives and salt cedars along the South Platte River near Brush.

More invasive species coverage here. More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


The Dolores River below McPhee is part of Interior’s ‘America’s Great Outdoors Highlighted River Projects’

May 24, 2012

doloresrivercanyon.jpg

Here’s the link to the Department of Interior’s America’s Great Outdoors Highlighted River Projects webpage. Here’s the link to the Dolores River release. Here’s an excerpt:

The Dolores River Partnership was formed in 2008 and is a two state, citizen driven partnership with the goal of restoring approximately 200 miles of the Dolores River from McPhee Reservoir to its confluence with the Colorado River in Utah. Project goals include improving public safety, the removal of tamarisk and other noxious weeds, improving fish habitat, the development of education and stewardship opportunities, and expanding opportunities for youth employment.

This citizen driven project is focused on restoring riparian vegetation through the removal of tamarisk and other invasive species along the Dolores River and the planting of native cottonwoods and willows. Youth groups will assist with invasive species control and native species planting. Tamarisk removal and native vegetation plantings will reduce the risk of wildfire, increase in-stream water flows, and improve stream bank stability thus improving habitat conditions for native fish species.

Thanks to KUNC (Emily Boyer) for the heads up.

More Dolores River watershed coverage here and here.


An October tamarisk control operation on the North Fork of the Gunnison River used cutting and herbicide treatments

November 6, 2011

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From the Delta County Independent (Kathy Browning):

On Oct. 21, volunteers worked on a half-mile of the easement. Tamarisk, Russian olive and Siberian elm were cut out and stumps of the invasives were treated with herbicide. Tamarisk and Russian olive were introduced in the 19th century as ornamentals. Tamarisk is now seen as a problem as it out-competes native plants for moisture and displaces them along river eco-systems in the West.

Webb Callicutt, Delta County weed coordinator, trained volunteers on how to apply the herbicide.

Rosa Brey of the Colorado Canyons Association explained why it was partnering on this project. “We are a Grand Junction based group and are looking to expand our membership and our volunteer base in Delta and Montrose counties,” Brey said. “The other reason we are involved is because this river flows into the Gunnison which flows through several of our conservation areas. So if we can get tamarisk eradicated on the upstream sections of the river, then there will be fewer seeds that will flow down the river and down into the conservation areas.”

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Tamarisk control: Federal, state and local officials complete clearing 3,000 acres in the Arkansas River valley near the Kansas border

April 22, 2011

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“Some people ask why we’re starting at the bottom when it spreads downstream,” said Henry Schnabel, a Prowers County commissioner. “In our case, Holly would be inundated if there was a backup because the river channel is clogged.”[...]

Michael Daskam, of the Holly Natural Resources Conservation Service office, Wednesday gave the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District board an overview on the progress of the Prowers County tamarisk project. The Lower Ark board voted to support the project with $30,000 in the coming year. Schnabel said not all of the funding may be necessary, because the program requires private landowners to sign up. The project has been more cost-effective than anticipated, costing a total of $264,690 to spray 3,172 acres by helicopter over the past two years, or $83.50 an acre, Daskam said…

The benefits include better water quality and quantity. The U.S. Geological Survey last year reported tamarisk water savings have not been proven, but did not rule out the possibility in a report released last year, Daskam said…

This year, the program will focus on spot spraying, catching areas that were not sprayed by helicopter, such as clumps of tamarisk growing under cottonwoods. A revegetation workshop is also planned to discuss the best ways for restoring native plants, Daskam said. Other partners in the project include the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, Southeastern Colorado Resource Conservation and Development, State Land Board, Northeast Prowers Conservation District, Division of Wildlife and Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association. Kansas also is working on the problem just across the state line.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Tamarisk control: The Tamarisk Coalition scores $25,000 from Xcel

December 15, 2010

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From the Grand Junction Free Press:

The Tamarisk Coalition will be accepting $25,000 from the Xcel Energy Foundation for the continued restoration activities at Watson Island 9 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 16, at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens. The Tamarisk Coalition will be using these funds in partnership with the City of Grand Junction, Western Colorado Math and Science Center, Mesa State College, the Botanical Gardens, and the Western Colorado Conservation Corps to reach the ecological objectives for this site which include replacing invasive plant species with native plants to benefit wildlife habitat.

More Tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Arkansas Valley: Colorado Water Supply Reserve Account distribution recap

November 8, 2010

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

In 2006, SB179 had created the Water Supply Reserve Account, and the roundtables were being asked to bring forward projects that would use money to identify water needs, evaluate available water supplies or build projects. There weren’t hard-and-fast guidelines and proposals had to pass muster of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Three proposals moved ahead that day: the Arkansas Valley Conduit, tamarisk removal and a study of recharge in the Upper Black Squirrel Aquifer in El Paso County. Since then, more than $4 million has been brought into the Arkansas River basin for 21 water projects or activities through the roundtable. The Rio Grande basin also has received about $4 million Like a snowball, those funds have leveraged more money as they were spent. Statewide, $26 million in grants from the account have been matched by $50 million from other sources…

BASIN BENEFITS

Since 2007, the Arkansas River Basin has received more than $4 million from a state fund established in 2006 to fund water activities. Projects include:

2007

Arkansas Valley Conduit, $200,000
Tamarisk control, $50,000
Upper Black Squirrel recharge, $45,200
Groundwater conference, $24,721
Fountain Creek Vision Task Force, $75,000
Round Mountain Water District, $120,000
Lower Ark Rotational Fallowing, $150,000

2008

Upper Big Sandy water balance, $45,000
Transfers subcommittee, $23,860
Las Animas water, $300,000
Zebra mussels, Lake Pueblo, $1 million
Colorado State University basinwide investigation, $600,000
Zero liquid discharge (reverse-osmosis brine), $725,000
Upper Ark water monitoring devices, $285,000

2009

Headwaters diversion improvements, $58,000
Non-consumptive needs quantification, $148,975
Fountain Creek sediment removal demonstration, $225,000
Groundwater policy, aquifer storage and recovery, $225,000

2010

Upper Arkansas water balance, $190,000
Fountain Creek flathead chub study, $35,000
Flaming Gorge Task Force study, $40,000

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here.


Montezuma County: Tamarisk forum recap

September 4, 2010

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From the Cortez Journal (Kimberly Benedict):

The evening forum, held at the Calvin Denton Room at Empire Electric, was presented by the Dolores Conservation District in partnership with Colorado State University Extension. “Our main focus is to hear from everybody what you want to be doing with tamarisk in the county,” said Steve Miles, of the Dolores Conservation District. “We really want to hear input as to what you want to see the conservation district do.”[...]

Miles, Clark Tate, with the Tamarisk Coalition, and Dan Bean, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, gave brief presentations on the progress of tamarisk eradication in the west, focusing on the use of tamarisk beetle biocontrol. First released in 2001 in experimental sites, tamarisk beetles are now widespread throughout Colorado and Utah. The small beetles are native to China and Kazakhstan and were part of a $1 million USDA project aimed at finding a biocontrol agent for tamarisk. “The tamarisk biocontrol project started in the ’70s with a look at tamarisk and the problems and potential for developing agents for control,” Bean said. “At the time their was a belief you could not control trees and shrubs with an insect so they shelved it. In the late ’80s they reconsidered.”

Tamarisk beetles do not kill plants directly, they consume the foliage resulting in stressed plants that have difficulty greening after a few seasons, according to Tate. The beetles have left a wake of dead tamarisk in their path in Nevada, resulting in a 75 percent mortality rate. “We are seeing a lot of stressed out tamarisk,” Tate said. “It is hard to tell if they are actually dead, but just looking at them, they are very, very stressed. It is time to start thinking about the void that is going to be created.”

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Montezuma County: Tamarisk control update

August 8, 2010

A picture named tamariskleafbeetlesatwork

From the Cortez Journal (Melinda Green):

The beetle is working in McElmo Canyon, stripping the leaves from tamarisks, then flying away to another stand of tamarisks. The beetles may return when the tamarisk grows more leaves, until in three to four years, the tree dies, Miles said. That gives time to revegetate with more desirable plants.

However, in June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ended its program of releasing the beetles in 13 states, including Colorado. The move came after the Center for Biological Diversity and the Maricopa Audubon Society sued, saying that release of the beetle in southern Utah in 2006 had destroyed tamarisk trees containing endangered southwestern willow flycatcher nests. When tamarisks crowded out the native willow preferred by the flycatcher, the bird moved to tamarisk trees, Miles said. He believes a better strategy would be to reintroduce the willow in areas where the beetles have killed the tamarisk. The beetles already released continue to thrive and help with tamarisk control, he said.

With an estimated 9,000 acres of tamarisk in Montezuma County in 2005, organizers have been successful in slowing its progress, Miles says. “We’ve definitely made progress (controlling the tamarisk locally),” he said. “You don’t see much around McPhee Lake. We treated (chemically) 200 acres in 2005 above McPhee. We’re helping keep tamarisk out of 50,000 to 60,000 acres of agricultural land in the county, spread through irrigation water. The Conservation District, National Resource Conservation Service, private agencies, and state agencies spent half a million dollars here in the last seven years.”

Work was also done on the upper reaches of McElmo Creek and the Hawkins Preserve. In addition, Miles said the Mancos Conservation District and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe have been working to control tamarisk on the Mancos River.

“We’re working on revegetation projects with landowners to find the best way to get appropriate plants back in,” he said. “Most of the time there’s enough native seed source to come back in. Nature abhors a vacuum, so if we take out one noxious weed, we don’t want another noxious one to come in.”

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Tamarisk control: Timpas Creek Riparian Restoration Project update

June 28, 2010

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From the La Junta Tribune-Democrat (Bette McFarren):

The object of the letter and the grant is to obtain an additional $18,000 in matching funds to continue the tamarisk eradication. The Colorado Forest Service has had good luck with Habitat, a herbicide that can be applied from the air, using a helicopter, or from an ATV. The herbicide takes 3 years to deplete all carbohydrates in the root system. Last year it became substantially more cost effective when the original patent ran out and other sources than the inventor could manufacture it. The cut-stumps method of application is less efficient in that it is extremely labor-intensive and does not leave the tree skeletons for wildlife habitat or beneficial recycling. Mulching and chipping are options to remove the remains of the tamarisk.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Southwestern willow flycatcher boots tamarisk leaf beetles from 13 states

June 22, 2010

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From The Aspen Times (Mead Gruver):

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service last week formally ended its program of releasing saltcedar leaf beetles to eat saltcedar, also known as tamarisk, in 13 states: Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Montana, Washington and Wyoming.

The reason for the program’s demise is the southwestern willow flycatcher, an endangered species found in scattered pockets around the Southwest. The bird nests in saltcedar, as well as in native willows and cottonwoods.

Concern that beetles could destroy much of the bird’s nesting habitat was why the USDA excluded New Mexico, Arizona and California from the beetle-release program, which began in 2005.

Now, scientists think the beetles are likely to spread from the states where they were introduced. They say it could be just a matter of time before the insects chew through saltcedar all the way down the Colorado River drainage in Arizona and eastern California.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Tamarisk control: Tamarisk leaf beetle release in Grand Junction

June 10, 2010

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From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:

The city of Grand Junction removed tamarisk and fostered four acres of wetland more than a year ago along the river near Riverside and Redlands parkways. The new wetland area was created after seven-tenths of an acre of wetland was eliminated along Patterson Road between 24 1/2 and 25 1/2 roads during the Ranchmen’s Ditch project. The project involved installing pipes that would guide rain water from storms on the Bookcliffs to the Colorado River without causing flooding along the way. Within months, the tamarisk in the new wetland area was back. The city considered spraying a herbicide to kill the new growth, City Project Engineer Dave Donohue said. “We concluded if we did that, we’d have so much herbicide on new wetlands plants and water, it would be a disaster,” Donohue said.

So, Donohue pursued a different tamarisk-killer: the tamarisk beetle. Palisade Insectary Director Dan Bean released 7,000 tamarisk beetles at the site two weeks ago and another 1,000 Wednesday. Eggs and larvae already are appearing this week, showing the beetles are spreading into their new habitat and leaving offspring behind. The beetles regulate their numbers based on available food, Bean said, so he doesn’t expect them to overpopulate the area. Bean said the beetles aren’t likely to enter homes, and they don’t eat anything but tamarisk.

The insectary is one of a few in the country and the only one in Colorado, Bean said. It’s run by the Colorado Department of Agriculture and was placed in Palisade in the 1940s to provide predatory wasps to eat oriental fruit moths, which were destroying peach crops. The insectary continues to collect insects from inside and sometimes outside the state to help farmers, ranchers and gardeners fight pests across Colorado. The tamarisk beetles released along the Colorado River were collected in De Beque Canyon.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Tamarisk control: Leaf beetle introductions in Southwestern Colorado workshop Saturday, June 19

June 3, 2010

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From The Telluride Watch:

The Colorado Native Plant Society hosts a free seminar and field trip on tamarisk beetle control introductions in Delta County Saturday, June 19, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., with “Beetle Wrangler” Mike Drake, executive director of Painted Sky, discussing the history of tamarisk beetle introductions, how they control tamarisk, the logistical and financial advantages and what has been achieved in Delta County. After a classroom session, the group will tour Confluence Park in Delta to see firsthand results.

Tamarisk or salt cedar is on Colorado Department of Agriculture’s B list of noxious weeds. B list plants need to be controlled to stop their spread. Despite recent U.S. Geological Survey study findings that tamarisk isn’t quite the water hog it was long believed it to be, it still chokes riverbanks, reduces native plants and biodiversity, especially bird species, and tends to take over the landscape. Its presence increases soil salinity, thwarting competition from other plants.

Attendees should wear walking shoes and bring a lunch. You need not be a member of Colorado Native Plant Society to attend, but seminar is limited to 15. Meet at Painted Sky office, in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 690 Industrial Blvd in Delta. Call or email Gay Austin to register or for more information: austinaceae37@roadrunner.com or 970/641-6264.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Tamarisk control: Tamarisk consumptive use is on a par with native cottonwoods and willows

May 31, 2010

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From The Durango Herald (Dale Rodebaugh):

…decades and millions of dollars of eradication projects later, a report released April 28 says that conventional wisdom had it all wrong. Tamarisk was getting a bad rap – it doesn’t use any more water than the native species it crowds out – cottonwood and willows. The report, done jointly by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Forest Service and the Bureau of Reclamation, contains no new research. Rather, it’s a review and compilation of research dating back half a century. “The report is a review of the science starting in the 1960s,” said David Merritt, a riparian plant ecologist with the Forest Service in Fort Collins. The review found the premise that tamarisk was a water hog just didn’t wash, Merritt said.

Eradication efforts worked from the assumption that if tamarisk were removed there would be more water for other users, including plant species, wildlife, livestock and humans. “They weren’t able to quantify any real water savings by removing tamarisk,” Merritt said. “In certain cases, apparent (water) increases disappeared when vegetation came back…

There is relatively little tamarisk around Durango but it flourishes along the banks of the Animas, La Plata and San Juan rivers at the New Mexico line, La Plata County Weed Manager Rod Cook said. In Montezuma County where tamarisk is more abundant, a leaf beetle is munching tamarisk to death. The beetle is believed to have migrated to Montezuma County from Utah or from a beetle release four years ago on the Dolores River. Merritt said tamarisk peters out at around 7,000 feet elevation. Durango is at 6,512 feet elevation.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Tamarisk control: The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District ponies up $36,000 for herbicide operations

May 21, 2010

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

One of the largest tamarisk removal projects in the Arkansas River basin apparently was successful last year and sponsors are ready to go after some more. The Lower Arkansas River Water Conservancy District board voted unanimously Wednesday to contribute $36,000 toward this year’s $130,000 project to use helicopter spraying to kill tamarisk in Prowers County. Last year, 1,414 acres of mostly private land was sprayed at a cost of $117,000 in the Arkansas River flood plain, said Nolan Daskam, of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The estimate for the cost of the project was $200 per acre, but was completed for $84 per acre. The price of the chemical used, Habitat, dropped because of competition from a generic brand, Daskam explained. The project also pinpointed spraying through use of global positioning system technology, he added. “I think if we get a handle on this, we can keep it in control,” Daskam said. “We can make progress up to the county line and into Bent County…

The project’s goals include restoring native vegetation, improving wildlife habitat and reducing the flood hazard from clogged river and stream channels, Daskam said. There are other methods of tamarisk removal in Prowers County as well, including grinding and bulldozing, with follow-up hand spraying to kill plants that regenerate. “Mechanical control still has its place,” Daskam said. “For some landowners, it’s the only option.”

About 45,000 beetles that eat tamarisk leaves have been released in Prowers County. “In October, we found them (beetles released earlier in the year), and they were thriving,” Daskam said. “We’re waiting to see how they over-wintered. It’s the cheapest method, so we’re hoping they’re successful.”

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District board meeting recap

May 20, 2010

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Arkansas River basin has the highest number of acres infested with tamarisk in Colorado, and much of it is in the upland areas, Edelmann said. “The [recent U.S. Geological Survey scientific assessment] doesn’t mean there weren’t water savings from tamarisk removal, just that they couldn’t be detected,” Edelmann said. “That’s not to say there could be some savings in the upland areas of the Arkansas River basin.”

Tamarisk consumptive use was reported as high as 9 feet per year in studies from the 1940s-70s, but the scientific methods did not take into account weather factors. Newer studies show the probable consumptive use is closer to 3-4 feet per year…

There could be a savings to the river by increasing the amount of water available to the Arkansas River, but any measurement would have to look at all components of the water budget — the water table, canal leakage and weather factors. “The river is a drain, so you should be able to see a net difference,” Edelmann said. “A lot of variables come into play.” So far, there have not been comprehensive studies showing the water-saving benefits of tamarisk removal in the Arkansas River basin. There is some anecdotal evidence,” Edelmann said. “The wetlands returned at Bent’s Fort when the tamarisk was cleared.” There are other benefits, such as improved flood protection in the river channel and improved wildlife habitat, Edelmann said.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Tamarisk control: Tamarisk is not the water hog it has been made out to be

May 12, 2010

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“In a few cases, clearing saltcedar has resulted in temporary, measurable increases in streamflow,” a report by the U.S. Geological Survey states. “Most studies, however, have found that although evapotranspiration may be decreased by large-scale removal of saltcedar, no significant long-term changes in streamflow are detected as a result of vegetation removal.” The report is a scientific assessment ordered under the Saltcedar and Russian Olive Control Demonstration Act of 2006. It reviews past studies in order to assess the scientific information available about tamarisks and Russian olives, while providing a common background for those applying for federal grants.

In Colorado, the Arkansas River basin is the most heavily infested with tamarisk, with 69 percent of the state’s total acreage. Many of the trees were planted in the 1900s as a means of erosion control. The trees have spread over time, taking over cottonwood stands in the river beds and colonizing upland areas as well. More than 67,000 acres are affected…

Today, the [Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District] is coordinating efforts throughout the valley under the Arkansas River Watershed Invasive Plant Plan. In addition to water usage, the trees have been identified as crowding out beneficial native plants and restricting flood control channels. According to the project’s website, tamarisk use 76,600 acre-feet of water per year, and infilling of partially infested areas eventually could increase that amount to 198,000 acre-feet…

The report acknowledges that tamarisk stands spread areas of vegetation into upland areas as well as along the banks, but states that simply removing the trees does not increase the water supply. Instead, the natural vegetation that replaces tamarisk may use the same amount or even more water, nullifying any water gain. Evaporation could actually increase if shading by tamarisk is reduced. Water made available to groundwater is used by other plant species, and does not increase long-term streamflow, the USGS report states.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Tamarisk control: Tamarisk is not the water hog it has been made out to be

May 7, 2010

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From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dave Buchanan):

A recent study by the U.S. Geological Service says tamarisk, commonly known as saltcedar, consumes no more water than native plants such as cottonwoods and willows. Also, the report says tamarisk-dominated landscapes aren’t totally inhospitable to wildlife. Reptiles, amphibians and birds, including the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher, use and breed in tamarisk stands. The report was requested by Congress asking for a review of the scientific literature about tamarisk and Russian olive to assess the impacts, distribution, water consumption and control methods for the two invasive species.

Click through to if you want to download the report. Here’s the pitch from the authors:

The primary intent of this document is to provide the science assessment called for under The Saltcedar and Russian Olive Control Demonstration Act of 2006 (Public Law 109–320; the Act). A secondary purpose is to provide a common background for applicants for prospective demonstration projects, should funds be appropriated for this second phase of the Act. This document synthesizes the state-of-the-science on the following topics: the distribution and abundance (extent) of saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) and Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) in the Western United States, potential for water savings associated with controlling saltcedar and Russian olive and the associated restoration of occupied sites, considerations related to wildlife use of saltcedar and Russian olive habitat or restored habitats, methods to control saltcedar and Russian olive, possible utilization of dead biomass following removal of saltcedar and Russian olive, and approaches and challenges associated with revegetation or restoration following control efforts. A concluding chapter discusses possible long-term management strategies, needs for additional study, potentially useful field demonstration projects, and a planning process for on-the-ground projects involving removal of saltcedar and Russian olive.

More Tamarisk control coverage here.


USGS Fort Collins Science Center: Saltcedar and Russian Olive control demonstration act science assessment

April 29, 2010

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Click through to if you want to download the report. Here’s the pitch from the authors:

The primary intent of this document is to provide the science assessment called for under The Saltcedar and Russian Olive Control Demonstration Act of 2006 (Public Law 109–320; the Act). A secondary purpose is to provide a common background for applicants for prospective demonstration projects, should funds be appropriated for this second phase of the Act. This document synthesizes the state-of-the-science on the following topics: the distribution and abundance (extent) of saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) and Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) in the Western United States, potential for water savings associated with controlling saltcedar and Russian olive and the associated restoration of occupied sites, considerations related to wildlife use of saltcedar and Russian olive habitat or restored habitats, methods to control saltcedar and Russian olive, possible utilization of dead biomass following removal of saltcedar and Russian olive, and approaches and challenges associated with revegetation or restoration following control efforts. A concluding chapter discusses possible long-term management strategies, needs for additional study, potentially useful field demonstration projects, and a planning process for on-the-ground projects involving removal of saltcedar and Russian olive.

From the Los Angeles Times (Bettina Boxall):

Federal, state and county agencies across the West have uprooted saltcedar in the belief that erasing it from riverbanks would save water. “In the West we’re always looking for ways to stretch our water supply,” Brown said. “And sometimes it takes a while for the science to catch up with the common belief.”

“If the primary interest was in stretching water supply,” he added, “there are a number of other ways to conserve and augment water supply … that are much more reliable and predictable.”

Here’s a look at the costs involved in beating down the weed, from The Lamar Ledger. From the article:

In 2009, 1,414 acres of Tamarisk were sprayed at a cost of $116,748.60. Of that amount, $83,686.86 came from the NRCS EQIP, $7,500 came from NRCS WHIP, $7,405 from the State Land Board, $2,949.69 from the Division of Wildlife and $13,156 from the Colorado Water Conservancy Board. Per acre, tamarisk spraying cost $82.57. Five percent of EQIP dollars were reserved for maintenance on NRCS funded areas and WHIP funds will be used for maintenance on CWCB funded areas.

Areas under consideration for tamarisk removal include the Clay Creek tributary and the Arkansas River west between Holly and Granada.

Here’s the release from the USGS (Peter Soeth, Pat Shafroth, Curt Brown):

Long considered heavy water users and poor wildlife habitat, non-native saltcedar and Russian olive trees that have spread along streams and water bodies in the West may not be as detrimental to wildlife and water availability as believed.

In a U.S. Geological Survey report requested by Congress and released today, scientists conducted a review of the scientific literature to assess the existing state of the science on the distribution and spread, water consumption, and control methods for saltcedar (also called tamarisk) and Russian olive. They also assessed the considerations related to wildlife use and the challenges associated with revegetation and restoration following control efforts.

The report was a collaboration among the USGS, the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Forest Service, and other federal agencies and universities to assess and summarize a large number of previously published studies.
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One notable finding is that native trees such as cottonwoods and willows along western rivers typically consume as much water as non-native saltcedar and Russian olive. Generally, the report noted, removal of saltcedar from floodplain areas along rivers leads to replacement by other vegetation that consumes roughly equal amounts of water. Therefore, removal of saltcedar from these areas is unlikely to produce measurable water savings once replacement revegetation becomes established, report authors wrote.

“None of the published studies to date, which include projects removing very large areas of saltcedar, have demonstrated production of significant additional water for human use,” said Curt Brown, Director of Research for the Bureau of Reclamation. However, the authors note that saltcedar and Russian olive can also grow on river terraces that are too high and dry for cottonwoods and willows. Some scientists have suggested that, on these sites, revegetation with native dry-site species could save some water for human use. But, the effectiveness of such an approach has not been demonstrated.

Similarly, although it has long been assumed that these non-native trees harm streamside habitat and wildlife productivity, research evaluated in the report indicates this isn’t always true. Many reptiles, amphibians, and birds use habitat dominated by saltcedar and Russian olive. Even the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher frequently breeds in saltcedar stands.

However, according to the report, saltcedar-dominated landscapes do not provide suitable habitat for more specialized birds, such as woodpeckers and birds that live in cavities. Dense tracts of pure saltcedar are typically unfavorable for most wildlife, and the report notes that many birds still prefer native cottonwood or willow habitat. Other negative impacts of dense stands of these introduced species can include impeded access to riverside recreational areas, increased wildfire hazard, and clogging of irrigation ditches.

Saltcedar and Russian olives are now the third and fourth most common streamside plants in 17 western states. The species have been the focus of significant removal efforts along some western rivers, such as the Rio Grande and Pecos River.

Plant removal techniques range from use of herbicides and bulldozers to biological controls such as insects. Once the invasive plants are killed or removed, effective restoration depends on replacing them with plant species that meet the specific goals of the planned restoration, the report said.

“The vegetation that replaces salt cedar following its removal, with or without restoration actions, will influence the quality of wildlife habitat, amount of water use and other ecological conditions,” said Pat Shafroth, a USGS scientist and lead editor of the report.

Site restoration, however, can be challenging and costly, depending on the size of the area and the methods used. Restoring key river processes, such as natural patterns of high and low flows, can help re-establish native vegetation and other important ecosystem features over larger areas than is possible with site-specific restoration, he added.

The authors highlight areas where further study could advance understanding of invasive plant control and restoration, including effects on wildlife habitat and water use. “Research and monitoring could be particularly important in the context of biological control of saltcedar,” Shafroth said. “The beetle that has been released for biological control has been defoliating saltcedar and spreading rapidly in some watersheds. We really need to understand the effects of biocontrol on these ecosystems, to better inform river and riparian restoration.”

The report provides a summary of the latest science and is expected to be helpful to organizations that undertake the management of saltcedar and Russian olive.

The report, Saltcedar and Russian Olive Control Demonstration Act Science Assessment, was completed to fulfill requirements in the Salt Cedar and Russian Olive Control Demonstration Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-320).

The full report, USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2009-5247, is available online along with USGS Fact Sheet 2009-3110 that summarizes the findings.

More Tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Montrose County Commissioners support the Lower Dolores River Working Group’s proposals

April 15, 2010

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From the Montrose Daily Press (Katharhynn Heidelberg):

Those supporting alternate plans to protect the Lower Dolores River can count Montrose County in. Montrose commissioners are supporting the Lower Dolores River Working Group’s efforts to develop protections for the river that also protect private property and water rights, the commission decided in a resolution last week. Parts of the Lower Dolores, which flows through Montrose County’s West End, are listed as “suitable” for federal Wild and Scenic River designation.

More Dolores River watershed coverage here.


Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership meeting Wednesday

April 11, 2010

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From the Montrose Daily Press:

The new Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership will meet from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at DMEA in Montrose. The meeting is open to the public. Partners will review more than 50 years worth of water quality data on the Uncompahgre River, from its source at Lake Como to the mouth at Delta. This will provide water resource specialists, city planners, agency experts and citizen groups a scientific foundation from which to establish watershed goals…

For more information, e-mail sarah@coloradowater.org or call 303-408-1312.

More Uncompahgre River watershed coverage here and here.


Arkansas River Watershed Tamarisk Workshop recap

April 1, 2010

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The workshop attracted 86 participants from all parts of the valley as part of the Arkansas River Invasive Plants Plan, an effort launched in 2007 by the Southeastern district and 30 partners to aid in restoring land taken over by tamarisk…

While the strategies vary in different parts of the basin, the basic lessons are the same:
Most have stopped talking about eradication and are looking at knocking back infested areas to the point where natural vegetation will have a change.
– Many partners are needed in projects, as well as the cooperation of landowners. Not all landowners want to remove tamarisk and may even value their presence as windbreaks.
– One swipe at the problem may get rid of 90 percent of the invasive trees, but follow-up efforts are needed. Complete restoration can depend on how well native vegetation takes hold.M.

“Complete eradication is pretty much impossible,” said Mike Eichenberry of the U.S. Forest Service, which has been eliminating between 500-800 acres of tamarisk each year since 2004 on the Comanche grasslands…

In North La Junta, a flood control district is using a different method for a different purpose, said Mike Taylor of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Tamarisk and willows have constricted the channel of the Arkansas River and reduced its ability to protect North La Junta from floods. The river has filled with about 15 feet of sediment since the 1965 flood, and the goal is to widen the channel to 300 feet. That should accommodate a 25- to 50-foot flood and avoid a repeat of flooding in 1999. The district, NRCS and other partners are using a root rake — large teeth attached to the blade of a bulldozer — to dig out tamarisks to a depth of two feet. “Once you get at them deep enough, they will not regenerate,” Taylor said. The willows are tougher, and like tamarisk hold soil in banks against erosion. Taylor laughed that it was the first time in his career that he’d been involved with a project trying to encourage erosion, saying a small flood would help scour the river. And while the area at first looks like a “moonscape,” native plants come back, and local residents are enjoying the effect. “Each spring we’re seeing people picnicking and enjoying the river. They say they haven’t seen the river in years,” Taylor said…

Killing tamarisk by any means will take years, but they most likely won’t come back as strong, said Anna Sher, a revegetation expert from the University of Denver and Denver Botanical Gardens. “Managing for native species will result in less tamarisk cover,” Sher said.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Cortez: Dolores River Dialogue meeting recap

March 25, 2010

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From the Cortez Journal (Kimberly Benedict):

Representatives from every major stakeholder group in the Dolores River watershed flooded the Dolores Water Conservancy District offices Tuesday for the first full meeting of the Dolores River Dialogue since October 2008. Among the items on the agenda were a presentation on the progress of the Lower Dolores Plan Working Group and a discussion of DRD restructuring. Presentations were also given on native fish populations in the Dolores, recent findings regarding salinity, the work done by the Dolores River Restoration Partnership and information on the 319 Watershed Study…

Created to examine alternatives to a Wild and Scenic River designation for the Dolores River, the group has spent the last year identifying and brainstorming around the plethora of issues involved in river protection. In early December, the group moved into the recommendation phase of the project, mindful of a June 2010 deadline to present recommendations to the Dolores Public Lands Office. “They have come up with 15 consensus recommendations,” [Facilitator Marsha Porter-Norton] said. “The recommendations are pretty solid, but this isn’t the report of the group. I would call them the bulk, but there could be some more recommendations arising.”[...]

The initial recommendations put forward by the group include a desire to continue monitoring and documenting priority archaeology and cultural resources; wildfire management by the Dolores Public Lands Office; the denial of Bradfield Bridge as a launch site at the present time; allowing a viable put-in/take-out to remain in place in the Slickrock area, although a partnership is needed to meet various needs; management of the Big Gyp recreation site rather than decommissioning the site; a continuation of the “first come/first served” policy around usage of campsites; continued partnerships for the management of tamarisk and other invasive plants; and maintaining current management practices of the four-wheel-drive road along the river from the pump station to Slickrock. Through the recommendation process, the group concluded that primary river protection must be secured to ensure the efficacy of the other action steps. “The key thing they have decided is the need for special legislation that would set up some type of area in the Lower Dolores,” Porter-Norton said. “This was arrived at by consensus at the March meeting – something that would be alternative to the Wild and Scenic designation…

In seeking an alternative to Wild and Scenic designation, the group finds itself balancing the need for environmental protection against the desires of recreational use and private land ownership. “There are really two things,” Porter-Norton said. “One is to protect the area, and yet it would also respect the economic development and private property rights. I think the group understands that the area needs to be protected and also that there are a lot of private interests involved.”[...]

The next meeting of the Dolores River Dialogue will take place in the fall. The Lower Dolores Plan Working Group will meet next at 5:30 p.m. April 19, at the Dolores Water Conservancy District. For more information, contact Porter-Norton at 247-8306. On the web: Dolores River Dialogue, http://ocs.fortlewis.edu/drd/.

More Dolores River watershed coverage here and here.


Prowers County: Tamarisk control update

March 18, 2010

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From The Lamar Ledger:

Grant funding in the amount of $24,343.65 from the Colorado Water Conservancy Board is available, but funding from the county, Natural Resources Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentive Program (NRCS EQIP), NRCS Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP),State Land Board and Colorado Division of Wildlife funding is yet to be defined. In 2009, 1,414 acres of Tamarisk were sprayed at a cost of $116,748.60. Of that amount, $83,686.86 came from the NRCS EQIP, $7,500 came from NRCS WHIP, $7,405 from the State Land Board, $2,949.69 from the Division of Wildlife and $13,156 from the Colorado Water Conservancy Board. Per acre, tamarisk spraying cost $82.57…

Areas under consideration for tamarisk removal include the Clay Creek tributary and the Arkansas River west between Holly and Granada.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Arkansas Valley: Tamarisk control workshop March 30

March 14, 2010

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From The Pueblo Chieftain:

The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, Colorado State Forest Service, and the Natural Resource Conservation Service are sponsoring a technical workshop on tamarisk control and restoration methodology. The workshop will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. March 30 at the Southeastern district office, 31717 United Ave…

There is no cost to attend the workshop and lunch will be provided. Contact Jean Van Pelt, jean@secwcd.com or 719-948-2023.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Shelley Simmons receives Tamarisk Coalition’s First President’s Award

January 24, 2010

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From the La Junta Tribune Democrat:

The Tamarisk Coalition’ First President’s Award is given in memory of Pete Larson, the Tamarisk Coalition’s first president to honor his dedication to restoring natural resources through the application of science, education, and volunteerism. The individual selected for this award has demonstrated the same level of commitment on their project through their volunteer efforts, incorporation of education and use of science in their work or through their project. On Jan. 13, Shelly Simmons (formerly VanLandingham) with the Colorado State Forest Service – La Junta office was nominated and received this distinguished award at the Tamarisk Symposium in Grand Junction. Attached is a photo of Shelly Simmons receiving the award from the Tamarisk Coalition President, Dr. Anna Sher.

In the award nomination form, her nominator described Simmons’ contribution, saying, “Shelly Simmons has spearheaded the tamarisk control and restoration efforts for over seven years in Southeast Colorado within the Arkansas River Basin. Shelly was an integral part of the development of the Arkansas River Watershed Invasive Plants Plan. She chaired the education (and) outreach committee, assisting with the development of the educational http://www.arkwipp.org Web site and the brochure.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Tamarisk control: 15 camels working the tamarisk clusters near Loma

January 21, 2010

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From Discovery News (Alyssa Danigelis):

Rancher Maggie Repp has unleashed her 15 camels in Loma, Colorado, on tamarisk clusters and noticed that they managed to obliterate every one of the hardy shrubs, Lisa Song reports in the High Country News.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Arkansas Valley: What’s happened to the releases of tamarisk leaf beetles?

December 27, 2009

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (R. Scott Rappold):

…after two summers of releases here [Arkansas River Basin], the beetles have eaten little of their favorite food, and experts fear they are leaving, dying or becoming food themselves. “In most cases that I’ve seen so far, it seems like the beetles are gone and we’re trying to come up with ways to deal with that,” said Dan Bean, director of the state’s Palisade Insectary, where the beetles are bred…

In summer 2008, the National Resource Conservation Service released 27,000 beetles along Fountain Creek north of Pueblo. Last summer, after biologists found no trace of the beetles, they released another 15,000. “We did see a slight amount of defoliation, but it often takes a couple years for the beetles to take hold and establish,” said conservation service biologist Patty Knupp. She will return in spring to look for beetles.

Elsewhere in the Arkansas Basin, there have been only a few pockets with slight signs of beetles eating the tamarisk. Said Bean, “There could be some quirks in climate and weather that cause them to not make it, but I think it’s more likely it’s something biological. Something is eating them.” He suspects other insects are the culprit.

One the other hand here’s a story about a mystery population of the little buggers in Fremont County from October 2008. From the post:

On the drive back to Grand Junction after visiting Pueblo in July, Bean noticed the tamarisk at the U.S. 50 bridge over Beaver Creek were yellowing – a tell-tale sign of beetle defoliation. He stopped, and sure enough there was a thriving beetle population in the trees below the bridge. Where the beetles came from is anyone’s guess. The Bureau of Reclamation has, for years, done controlled releases of beetles on trees below Lake Pueblo, but Bean knows of no official releases of beetles upstream of Lake Pueblo. “If the conditions were just right, they could migrate upstream,” Bean said. The beetles were found in a rocky canyon, which is similar to the areas where the same type of insects have thrived in eastern Utah and Western Colorado.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Colorado State University: 2010 Tamarisk Symposium January 12-13

December 16, 2009

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Here’s the link to the webpage with all the dope on the symposium:

The 2010 Tamarisk Symposium will be held at Two Rivers Convention Center, 159 Main Street, Grand Junction, CO. The committee has finalized the agenda and the schedule is now available. If you would like to be considered, please contact Meredith B. Swett via email mswett@tamariskcoalition.org.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Boulder: City Council discusses Boulder Reservoir water quality

December 15, 2009

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From the Boulder Daily Camera (Erica Meltzer):

In a discussion of a new master plan for the Boulder Reservoir, council members expressed concern about maintaining water quality and preventing invasive species from entering the reservoir. Several council members asked what the city could do to pressure the managers of Six Mile Reservoir, which feeds into the Boulder Reservoir, to maintain water-quality standards similar to Boulder’s. The answer was not much, except exert regional pressure.

More water pollution coverage here.


Surface Creek sourcewater protection meeting recap

December 5, 2009

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From the Delta County Independent (Hank Lohmeyer):

The project is conceived as an effort on the part of local water providers, including the U.S. Forest Service which administers lands where water supplies originate, to identify threats to source water quality and cooperate on a plan to protect those sources from contamination threats. The water providers involved in the initiative are the Towns of Orchard City and Cedaredge, Coalby Domestic Water Company, and Upper Surface Creek Domestic Water Association.

According to Colleen Williams of the Colorado Rural Water Association, a government-funded 501(c)3 that is leading the planning effort, the communities of Collbran, Rangely, and Paonia are all at various stages of developing their own source water protection plans. Williams is the “facilitator” of the effort to develop a localized plan which hopefully in the initial stages will attract grant money for things like fencing and signage to help protect local water sheds.

The committee is at the stage of developing management strategies for dealing with a range of source water quality issues including the following ones: Oil and gas development, roads and dust, livestock grazing, wildland fires and forest health decline, noxious weeds, septic systems, and a half-dozen or more other factors.

More Surface Creek watershed coverage here.


Uncompahgre River: ‘Examining Abandoned Mine Lands in the Uncompahgre Watershed’ December 11

December 5, 2009

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From The Telluride Watch (Gus Jarvis):

The Uncompahgre Watershed Planning Partnership will be hosting a daylong workshop titled “Examining Abandoned Mine Lands in the Uncompahgre Watershed” on Friday, Dec. 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Ouray Community Center. Various representatives from state and local organizations will be attending the workshop, which will focus on reclamation activities and abandoned mine lands in the upper Uncompahgre watershed. The workshop’s organizer, Andrew Madison, who is an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) volunteer working in Ridgway to develop a mine reclamation strategy for abandoned mine lands in the watershed, said that while there has already been a lot of mine reclamation work completed in the area, the work has just begun…

The Uncompahgre Watershed Planning Partnership is a volunteer group seeking to involve citizens and organizations in the Uncompahgre watershed. Its mission is to protect and restore water quality in the Uncompahgre River through coordinated community and agency efforts. “I am really looking forward to the workshop,” Madison said. “I have had a great response so far and I am looking forward to getting people to talk to each other on these issues.” For more information about “Examining Abandoned Mine Lands in the Uncompahgre Watershed” contact Madison at 413/297-7232 or at ridgway.vista@gmail.com.

More Uncompahgre River watershed coverage here and here.


Colorado River District grant program

December 3, 2009

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From email from the Colorado River District (Martha Moore):

Beginning December 1, 2009, the Colorado River District will be accepting grant applications for projects that protect, enhance or develop water resources in their 15-county area within the Colorado River Basin; this includes all tributary watershed areas in Colorado, except the San Juan River basin.

Water resource projects eligible for grant funding should meet one or more of the following objectives:

Development of a new water supply;
Improvement of an existing system;
Improvement of instream water quality;
Increased water use efficiency;
Sediment reduction;
Implementation of watershed management actions; and/or
Tamarisk control

Past successful projects have included the construction of new storage, the enlargement of existing facilities, the rehabilitation of non-functioning or restricted structures, both small and large-scale water efficiency measures, tamarisk removal and other watershed actions. In addition, proposals that enable water to be supplied to areas previously short are eligible and encouraged. Projects that utilize pre-1922 water rights will be given ranking priority.

Eligible applicants can receive up to a maximum of $150,000 (or 25% of the total project cost whichever is less) for their water supply projects. The total grant pool for 2010 is $250,000. The application deadline is Jan. 29, 2010.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.


Arkansas Valley: Tamarisk control update

October 23, 2009

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Arkansas Valley has taken aim at the invasive trees and gotten rid of 9,000 acres of the pests in the last four years. It’s estimated that 67,000 acres along the Arkansas River and its tributaries are infested with tamarisk. “Since 2006, we’ve spent more than $1 million in controlling invasive species,” said Mary Miller, of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the federal agency that has coordinated programs. “The majority of the money has been spent on the ground for the treatment of tamarisk.” Last year, the NRCS, more than two dozen government agencies and 40 landowners spent a combined $248,000 to treat 2,400 acres in Fremont, Pueblo, El Paso, Huerfano, Las Animas, Otero, Bent and Prowers counties.

The programs mostly involved destroying tamarisk, with some areas being restored as well. Mechanical, chemical and biological methods were used, Miller said. The largest areas were controlled with aerial spraying. Mechanical means, either by hand or with machines, are more time-consuming and costly, but more effective in some areas. Biological control usually means releasing beetles that eat tamarisk, and only tamarisk.

More tamarisk coverage here and here.


Glenwood Springs: Tamarisk cleanup this weekend

October 9, 2009

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From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (Hannah Goulding):

Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers is seeking volunteers for an all-day tamarisk-removal project Saturday. In addition to removing the trees, the nonprofit group will revegetate trees and shrubs indigenous to the banks. Volunteers will start at Two Rivers Park, focusing on both banks of the Colorado River between West Glenwood and the Hot Springs. The event is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Arkansas Valley tamarisk control update

October 8, 2009

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From the Ag Journal (Susan Pieper):

Several partners including NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service), Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW), Colorado Legends and Legacies and Mile High Youth Corps, Colorado State Conservation Board, Colorado State Forest Service, Colorado State University, Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), Fremont County Weed Manager J.R. Phillips and his department, Fremont County Weed Control Department (FCWD); Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory (RMBO), Sangre de Cristo and Southeast Colorado Resource Conservation and Development Councils, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Wildlife Program, Upper Arkansas Cooperative Weed Management Area (UACWM), several conservation districts including Fremont, Turkey Creek, South Pueblo County, El Paso, Central Colorado, Northeast Prowers, Bent County, West Otero Timpas, Custer County-Divide, Upper Huerfano and Spanish Peaks Purgatoire River Conservation Districts plus several individual landowners have undertaken a massive effort to remove tamarisk along the Arkansas River and its tributaries and have provided financial and in-kind support for all the projects being undertaken in the various counties and individual conservation districts.

Also providing the same type of support for the projects are the county commissioners in each of the counties along this stretch of the Arkansas River, Colorado State Land Board, Southeast Colorado Water Conservancy District, Holly Flood District and Tri-State Generation and Transmission.

Generally, water issues can divide communities, but the eradication of this scourge has united producers and governmental agencies across property lines, county lines and even the state line.

Although the Arkansas River banks are the primary target for tamarisk removal, the plan can not be successful within only those boundaries. The Arkansas River, just like any large body of running water, is fed by tributaries and with plants that can produce up to 50,000 seeds annually, controlling the spread of tamarisk on the creeks and arroyos upstream will support the efforts along the river.

In Colorado, approximately 1,414 acres along the Arkansas River in Prowers County have been targeted for eradication with the boards of directors of several conservation districts accepting bids and choosing the applicator to assist them with controlling and eventually ridding the river of this alien species. The same is true for areas up the river where approximately 850 acres were treated, also.

<p.In the lower regions of the Arkansas River, such as in Prowers County and across the state line into Kansas, herbicide application of the plants from the air was chosen.

In Fremont and Custer counties, the targeted areas were tributary streams.

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.


Dolores River: Tamarisk grants available

September 15, 2009

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From the Targeted News Service:

The U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management has modified its announcement of a cooperative agreement opportunity to conduct habitat restoration by removing invasive weeds in Colorado’s Dolores River Watershed. The funding announcement was modified Sept. 14 to reflect a change in the category of funding activity, expected number of awards and the contact details. This funding is available under the American Recovery and Investment Act of 2009…

The funding opportunity number is RECOVERY-ACT-BLM-CO-RFA09-1471. It was posted Sept. 14 with an application closing date of Sept. 15.

More Dolores River coverage here and here.


Prowers County tamarisk efforts

September 13, 2009

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Prowers County is taking to the air to fight tamarisk, according to a report in The Lamar Ledger (Aaron Burnett). From the article:

[Prowers County Commissioner Henry Schnabel] said the county has concentrated its efforts in the area from Holly to the state line in hopes of clearing out the river channel and lessening the possibility that high water levels could result in flooding in and around Holly. “With the different entities coming together in a cooperative effort, it just shows what can be done when you have that cooperation among all the people to really get out there and get something done,” said Schnabel.

The area being sprayed through the project include sections along the Arkansas River as well as upland tributaries and runoffs. “We feel that if can control those tamarisk in those upland situations and get them killed, they shouldn’t be coming back,” said Michael Daskam, NRCS agent in the Holly office. Daskam said the water saved by removing tamarack and revegetating with native plant species is approximately 70,000 acre feet a year in the river. “That’s like John Martin (Reservoir) in a good year, and that’s the net savings each year.” Daskam said there are several benefits to removing tamarisk from the area. “There’s these water conservation benefits that we talked about, there’s flood hazard mitigation benefits, there’s wildlife benefits as well because tamarack don’t provide much of any kind of habitat for our native species. If we can get the native species to come back, then we’ll have a lot more valuable wildlife habitat.”

Following the completion of aerial spraying, ground spraying will be conducted in areas too tight for aerial spraying. It takes three years from the time of the chemical application for the tamarisk to be completely killed, at which point it can then be manually removed.

More tamarisk control coverage here and here.


Tamarisk control in Montezuma County

September 8, 2009

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Here’s an update about Tamarisk control in Montezuma County, from Kristen Plank writing for the Cortez Journal. From the article:

For the past two weeks, the tamarisk leaf beetle has been chowing down on the area’s tamarisk, cropping up in sporadic locations from McElmo Canyon clear across the county…

Killing off an entire tamarisk typically takes a few seasons of defoliation, and beetles often will leave some of the leaves intact on each plant. “We really don’t know how long it will take for all of a tamarisk to be gone, but it’s not realistic to think that beetles are going to get it all,” Kolegas said. “Beetles only eat as much as they can. They want to sustain their population.” Which is why other efforts to rid the area of the water-loving weed, like native revegetation, will still occur. But most of the local tamarisk eradication efforts will be drastically reduced, Downs said. “We’re putting tamarisk removal on hold for now,” she said. “We’re going to finish the projects we’ve already started, and we’re going to continue heavily with revegetation efforts. “We want to get willows and cottonwoods and box elders in the area before the tamarisk is completely dead.”

How the bugs came into the county is unknown, but tamarisk beetles were released in Moab, Utah, and other parts of Colorado, Downs said. Reasons for not releasing the insect prior to now was due mostly to federal concerns for the southwest willow flycatcher, an endangered bird. The flycatcher, which used to nest in willows along riverbanks, now nests in tamarisk.

For residents interested in learning more about the tamarisk leaf beetle’s progress, the district will hold a public information meeting in conjunction with the Tamarisk Coalition at 6 p.m. Oct. 12 in Empire Electric’s Calvin Denton room, 801 N. Broadway, Cortez. The leaf beetle will go dormant in early October, but residents wishing to report a known population or to ask questions can call D-TAG and the Dolores Soil Conservation District at 565-9045.

More Tamarisk coverage here.


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