Cocopah Tribe working to restore native plants, landscape on #ColoradoRiver — KJZZ #COriver #aridification #CRWUA2022

The Cocopah Environmental Protection Office finished planting more than 1,000 trees along a seven acre stretch of land along the Colorado River near the Arizona-California border. Cocopah EPO Director Jen Alspach. Cocopah Elder Neil White and Restoration Ecologist Fred Phillips talk about what this project means for the environment and Cocopah culture. This project is being sponsored by the Catena Foundation.

Click the link to read the article on the KJZZ webiste (Al Macias). Here’s an excerpt:

This small stretch of the river winds through part of the Cocopah Reservation near Yuma. It’s the last tribal land the river touches before it flows into Mexico. For hundreds of years, the river provided food and other resources to the Cocopah and other river tribes. In the 19th century, the river was hundreds of yards across and steamboats ran up and down the river ferrying supplies. Now the river is a few feet across.

View showing steamboat Cochan on the Colorado River near Yuma, Arizona in 1900. A photograph of the Cochan, last stern-wheel steamboat running on the Colorado River for the Colorado Steam Navigation Company between 1899 and 1909. This photo was taken in 1900. Cochan was sold to the U.S Reclamation Service in 1909. Not required by the Service, Cochan was dismantled in 1910. By Unknown author or not provided – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain,

But major change began to take shape in the early 1900s, when the first dam was added. More than a century later, development and an extensive system of 15 dams has changed the river and the people who depended on it. Here on the Cocopah reservation, the landscape changed as well with invasive plant species choking out native cottonwoods, mesquites and other trees. Back in June as this, heavy equipment began ripping out seven acres of invasive plants called phragmites.


Jen Alspach is the director of the Cocopah Environmental Protection Office.

“The goal of this project was to bring back those native plants and create a very special place where they can gather and you know reconnect with the river,” Alspach said. 

After the seven acres were cleared, a thousand cottonwoods, willows and mesquites were planted.

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