Arkansas River Watershed Tamarisk Workshop recap

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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.

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