Shannon HatchWATER LINES

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October 25, 2012
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WATER LINES: Grand Valley partnership aims to improve riparian habitat

The Tamarisk Coalition is excited to announce the formation of a new partnership to protect and improve habitat along rivers and streams in the Grand Valley of western Colorado.Participants in this partnership include: Mesa County, City of Grand Junction, Town of Palisade, City of Fruita, Grand Junction Audubon, Colorado Riverfront Commission, Water Center at Colorado Mesa University, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Colorado Parks & Wildlife, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Colorado Watershed Assembly, Mesa Land Trust, Clifton Sanitation District, Western Colorado Conservation Corps, Bureau of Land Management, US Bureau of Reclamation, and private landowners.Although it is still in its infancy, the Grand Valley Riparian Restoration Collaborative (GVRRC), as it is informally being called, already has a number of projects on tap for the coming year. Thanks to generous funding from the Colorado Basin Roundtable and Statewide Water Supply Reserve Account, administered by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, the GVRRC will be implementing five on-the-ground projects in 2013.These projects collectively strive to improve the ecologic function of the river and its floodplain through the removal of invasive riparian plants, such as tamarisk and Russian olive; secondary weed treatment; revegetation with native plant species; and long-term monitoring. Improved river access and recreational opportunities and experiences will also result from project implementation.Some funding will be also be used for pre-project site assessments that include soil analysis, groundwater monitoring well installation, and other baseline data collection. The remainder of the funding will be used to support facilitation of the collaborative by Tamarisk Coalition.Specific on-the-ground projects that the collaborative will be working on in 2013 include: • Bank stabilization and revegetation work at Riverbend Park in Palisade.• Cottonwood fencing from beaver predation and wildlife browsing at the Ela Preserve, managed by Grand Valley Audubon.• Tamarisk and Russian olive removal, secondary weed treatment, and revegetation at several different areas, including the Jarvis Property, Watson Island, and Las Colonias Park, owned by City of Grand Junction; Redlands Parkway property, managed by Mesa County and the City of Grand Junction; and Connected Lakes State Park, managed by Colorado Parks & Wildlife.Several GVRRC participants are spending two days in October touring sites where restoration work has been completed over the last several years in the Grand Valley. The purpose of these field trips is to provide land managers and land owners the opportunity to learn from each other's experiences and to discuss strategies for moving forward with additional work.Participants have also visited a cottonwood pole plantation in Mack that will provide a source of trees for local restoration work over the coming years. Cottonwoods, which were grown from locally collected seed or cuttings, will first be available for harvest and installation this coming winter.In order to maximize the effective use of funding and personnel resources, the collaborative will undertake a prioritization exercise to determine where additional restoration could confer the greatest long-term cost benefit. Partners will also continue discussions about how best to understand system-wide changes as a result of woody invasives removal and restoration. While emphasis is currently on vegetation management, the GVRRC is open to tackling other riverine health concerns and issues.More information about the collaborative can be found at the following website: is part of a series of articles coordinated by the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University in cooperation with the Colorado and Gunnison Basin Roundtables to raise awareness about water needs, uses and policies in our region. To learn more about the basin roundtables and statewide water planning, and to let the roundtables know what you think, go to Shannon Hatch is restoration coordinator for the Tamarisk Coalition. Contact her at or by calling 970-256-7400 if you would like to learn more, or if you are interested in becoming involved.

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The Post Independent Updated Oct 25, 2012 01:24PM Published Oct 25, 2012 01:23PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.