Once upon a time there was the Colorado River and it was winding its way down the Grand Canyon. Flash forward and there are dams, beaches not being renewed by floods, people, and the introduction from Eurasia of the tamarisk (or saltcedar) into the southwest for erosion control in the 19th century.

You’ll see tamarisk all along the banks of the Colorado River during your rafting trip. Depending on the season, you’ll note the wispy green or pink bloomed shrubs lining the River along the entire stretch of the Grand Canyon.

Tamarisk shrubs displace native vegetation and animals, alter soil salinity, and increase fire frequency. Work crews have resorted to pulling, cutting to stump level, or girdling shrubs to leave the dead tree standing for wildlife habitat. The combination of hand tools and herbicide ensures maximum effectiveness with minimum impact to visitors and the environment.

In an effort to further manage tamarisk growth, the tamarisk leaf beetle was introduced in the southwest in 2001 as a biological control agent.

With the beetle introduction, Park resource managers are aware that there are different management risks emerging: how to remove the standing dead trees, assess rapid changes in wildlife habitat, and successfully restore native plant communities.

Ever think about extending your trip for some tamarisk removal volunteering? For information, contact Grand Canyon Trust at 928.774.7488 or visit them on gcvolunteers.org.

More information and updates can be found on the National Parks’ Grand Canyon website or the Tamarisk Coalition.

That pesky Tamarisk on the Colorado River was last modified: July 22nd, 2015 by admin

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