Tamarisk control in Montezuma County

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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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