Summit County: Invasive species — tamarisk

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From the Vail Daily (Bob Berwyn):

Tamarisk, also known as salt cedar, was found a couple of years ago growing in a rock wall in Frisco. The plants were likely brought in during construction, said Lisa Taylor, director of Summit’s weed control program. The invasive plant has infested many areas in the lower Colorado River Basin, drinking millions of gallons of water that could otherwise be used for irrigation, municipalities or environmental purposes. A second tamarisk sprout was located near Silverthorne, Taylor said. The plant is difficult to eradicate when established, requiring heavy duty applications of herbicides and even burning. Taylor said the Summit County specimens are gone. It’s not clear how easily the plants spread in the higher-elevation cool climates, but Taylor doesn’t think tamarisk will be a major problem here. Keeping Summit County free of tamarisk is a high priority because of its impact on water resources.

Taylor said a couple of other non-native plants have made a spotty appearance in Summit County, including absinthe wormwood and sulphur cinquefoil, the latter in the Heaton Bay campground.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel: Senator Udall and Representative Lamborn introduce legislation to fund and authorize Reclamation treatment of mine water

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Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“We both share a strong, deep commitment when it comes to the Leadville drainage tunnel,” Udall said. “We need for someone to step in and take responsibility,” Lamborn added. The lawmakers are sponsoring the legislation to avert disaster if the blockage in the Leadville tunnel were to give way under pressure and release a toxic flood into the Arkansas River. It will also improve the water quality of water from the mines that is returned to the river, Udall said. [ed. the toxic flood scenario was debunked by Reclamation last year].

In response to the emergency, a relief well was added to remove water backed up in the Leadville tunnel. The water was pumped to Reclamation’s treatment plant north of Leadville…

The bill would give Reclamation the authority to continue operating the relief well and to take steps toward a long-term solution. Previously, Reclamation claimed it lacked specific authority to treat water behind the blockages in the tunnel, a federal facility built to drain mines as a way to improve production in World War II and the Korean War. Reclamation and the EPA have been unable to reach a long-term solution.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.