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Governor Owens Issues Executive Order on Tamarisk

Tamarisk (also known as saltcedar) grows as a large shrub or small tree. It was imported from Eurasia to help stabilize streambanks in Arizona and for use as an ornamental.

On January 8, 2003, Governor Owens signed an Executive Order that directs state agencies to coordinate effort to eradicate tamarisk on state lands in ten years. The Department of Natural Resources is the state agency that was given lead responsibility to combat tamarisk. According to John Marshall of DNR, the agency is developing a strategy to move forward by working with a broad network of public agencies and private groups.

There are compelling reasons to control tamarisk. Tamarisk has spread far beyond its points of introduction and now inhabits lower-elevation riparian areas throughout the southwestern US, including the Colorado, Arkansas, Dolores River basins. Tamarisk has several attributes that create problems. It is very aggressive and can take over riparian areas, replacing the native willows and cottonwoods. Tamarisk plants take up salt from the soil and store it in special glands in their leaves. When the leaves fall each autumn, the salts accumulate around the bases of the plants, and over time, the soils can become so salty that other plants cannot survive. Tamarisk plants produce highly flammable leaf litter, which promotes wildfire that is very detrimental to native riparian plant communities. Via salt accumulation, wildfire, and competition, riparian areas can become virtual monocultures of tamarisk, with losses in plant and animal biodiversity. Stands of tamarisk have been shown to provide inferior wildlife habitat compared to stands of native riparian trees and shrubs. There is mounting evidence that stands of tamarisk consume more water than stands of native cottonwoods and willows. This extra increment of consumed water could be particularly significant during severe droughts.

 


Reassessing CRA Programs

The mission of the CRA is to promote the conservation, restoration and preservation of Colorado’s riparian areas and wetlands. We have done this for over 15 years by fostering practical and scientific understanding, promoting sound management, and promoting communications. We have done this through conferences, field trips, the newsletter, original publications, contributions to other organizations and much, much more.

As 2003 winds down and a new year begins, the new CRA board is looking to the future. We will be evaluating the successes as well as areas of improvement for CRA’s programs and projects in fulfilling the mission and serving our members. In the coming weeks, we will be asking you to complete a quick email survey to assess what type of activities and projects YOU may be interested in helping us tackle and areas where CRA can be a source of information in managing, restoring, and protecting riparian areas and wetlands. This is your opportunity to think outside of the box and help us move ahead with the protecting and restoring our valuable resources. We will also be talking to as many agencies and organizations as we can to find out how CRA can best interact with them to promote our mission.

If you are interested in helping with this assessment or if you just want more information, please contact either Denise Culver (            970-491-2998       <dculver@lamar.colostate.edu>) or Kathryn Mutz (            303-492-1293       <kathryn.mutz@colorado.edu>).