Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Sunday, November 5, 2006

A picture named tamarisk.jpg

Here's an article about the control of tamarisk and other invasive species in Colorado and a hopeful looking project on the San Miguel River, from the Denver Post. They write, "While the scope of the tamarisk and Russian olive problem across the West is daunting, it is a solvable problem. Two keys to addressing the problem are to prioritize eradication and restoration efforts in places that can have the greatest benefit to native species and communities, and to develop collaborative efforts to tackle the problem. Colorado is well-positioned to benefit form these new funds with organized community groups along the San Miguel, Upper Colorado, Yampa, Arkansas and Purgatoire rivers that can deliver success on the ground. In the battle against invasives, a little money can go a long way. In 2001, The Nature Conservancy embarked on a six-year program, 'Saving the Natives,' to remove tamarisk and Russian olive from along the San Miguel River, one of the last remaining free-flowing rivers in the West. The Conservancy took a watershed-wide approach, removing tamarisk from upstream areas first and then working downstream. Local crews and volunteers are cutting these invasives and applying herbicides directly to their stumps, in combination with mechanical removal in appropriate locations. When complete, project partners will offer continuing landowner education, monitoring and maintenance. The seriousness of the issue to local landowners is demonstrated by the fact that an unprecedented number of private land owners along the river are partners in this effort. They see tangible benefits of removing tamarisk from their properties, including improved grazing and increased access to water for their herds.

"The San Miguel project, now in its final year, is a national example of a tamarisk-free watershed and provides a model of a collaborative, efficient and cost-effective way to address this threat throughout the West. When the Nature Conservancy and its partners - including the San Miguel Weed Board, the Bureau of Land Management and The Tamarisk Coalition - fell the last tree, we will have removed approximately 100 miles of tamarisk at a cost of about $1 million. This money is a combination of public and private funding with a significant contribution coming from hundreds of dedicated volunteers who spent long weekends tackling tamarisk."

A picture named tamariskleafbeetle.jpgMeanwhile, here's an update on the use of Tamarisk beetles to control the noxious week in the Arkansas Valley, from the Pueblo Chieftian. They write, "Imported beetles could provide a more natural, less expensive way to control tamarisk throughout the American West, and a few are already on the job in the Arkansas Valley. Tamarisk leaf beetles, imported from the areas of central Asia where tamarisk originated, are seen by some as a way to knock back the trees by biological means...

"Testing in Colorado by the Bureau of Reclamation began near Pueblo in 1998, with the beetles working in protective netting. The netting primarily protects the beetles from predators like birds, since the beetles don't eat anything besides tamarisk. In 2001, the beetles were released, but so far have not ventured far from the original test site below Pueblo Dam, because there are few large stands in the immediate area and their population has been knocked back by mosquito spraying. More have been released in the past three years near John Martin Reservoir...

"The tamarisk leaf beetles, imported from northwest China or Kazakhstan, will go through two to three generations in a year, Bean said. Those used in Colorado come from the Fukang region of China, bred through Reclamation's program at Pueblo. Female beetles lay up to 10 to 20 eggs a day on tamarisk twigs, with 300-500 eggs in a season. The eggs hatch in seven days. The larvae will feed for about a week, drop into the leaf litter and look for another plant. They go into a pupal stage before emerging as beetles. They will fly from tree to tree, and after stripping a stand of leaves will fly for miles to find more tamarisk. They 'hibernate' through the winter. Beetles released two years ago in Utah have not spread to other species of plants, Bean said. He said the nature of tamarisk leaves - high salt content, unique chemistry and scaly surface - make it the only host for the beetles."

A picture named goatmunchingtamarisk.jpgYet another method of dealing with Tamarisk (and Russian Olive) uses goats, according to the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article, "For landowners, thickening stands of salt cedar are a water-sucking menace to waterways and pastures. For Lou Colby's work force, they're what's for dinner. Colby, owner of Golden Hooves Grazing, has an itinerant army of 457 goats that criss-crosses the West in search of weeds to destroy. For the next couple of months, they'll be assaulting the tamarisk, Russian olives and noxious weeds on 200 acres east of Vineland owned by Rick and Cindy Leach...

"On cue, a few of the more media-savvy goats began furiously gnawing on small tamarisk plants by the river, knocking them over and munching down branches like so many French fries. Which must be how they taste. Tamarisk, also known as salt cedar, are infamous for leaching salt to the surface. Their leaves increase the salinity of the very ground they grow in. Goats are one of the few animals that find them tasty."

Category: Colorado Water

7:25:00 AM    

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