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.