Tamarisk Coalition works to restore native habitats | PostIndependent.com

Tamarisk Coalition works to restore native habitats

Sharon Sullivan
A Tamarisk Coalition volunteer removes cut tamarisk during a fall volunteer day in Devils Canyon at McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area outside of Fruita.
Tamarisk Coalition | Free Press


WHAT: “Cottonwoods and Cold Ones”

WHEN: 5:30-8 p.m. Thurs., Sept. 26

WHERE: Edgewater Brewery, 905 Struthers Ave.

COST: $10 — includes appetizers, live music and prizes

INFO: RSVP to 970-256-7400, http://www.TamariskCoalition.org

Edgewater Brewery is hosting “Cottonwoods and Cold Ones,” an event to celebrate the Tamarisk Coalition and its work removing invasive plant species and replanting areas with native vegetation.

On Thursday, Sept. 26, participants will learn about riverside restoration after a brief tour of nearby Watson Island and Las Colonias, followed by a return to Edgewater for appetizers, live music, prize drawings and a tour of the brewery. The event is from 5:30-8 p.m.

The flowering tamarisk, native to Eurasia (western China, Middle East, eastern Europe), was brought to the United States in the late 1800s for use as erosion control along riverbanks and canals. Later, people also began planting tamarisk as an ornamental.

However, the invasive tamarisk has crowded out native plants such as cottonwoods, willows and sumac shrubs. Those plants have shallow root systems and have evolved to grow near perennial water supplies.

Tamarisks have a deep tap root system and easily colonize areas. Tamarisk also seeds the entire summer, unlike native shrubs, cottonwoods and willows that seed once a year, Tamarisk Coalition restoration coordinator Bill Cooper said.

“Mature tamarisks produce a half-million seeds in one year; it’s an aggressive colonizer,” and has invaded 1.6 million acres throughout the western U.S., Cooper said.

The Tamarisk Coalition was formed in 2001 for the purpose of restoring riparian lands through collaboration, education and technical assistance.

Workers have removed tamarisk along the Riverfront Trail, on the city-owned Jarvis property west of the Fifth Street bridge, Watson Island and Colonias Park, Redlands Parkway property and Connected Lakes.

“Early goals were focused on local restoration work in the Grand Valley,” Cooper said. “It’s expanded to the Dolores River, Southeast Utah, and Northwest Colorado. It’s grown regionally. We’re working with groups in Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, Nevada, Texas and Utah.

“Our roots are here in Grand Junction. We’re still doing a lot of good work here with tamarisk and Russian olive removal.”

The coalition is working with nurseries and private landowners to develop native plant materials for re-vegetation efforts. Mack resident Stan Young is growing cottonwoods for the group.

Desert Rivers Collaborative formed a year ago to help the Tamarisk Coalition in protecting, restoring and maintaining native river habitat in Mesa and Delta counties by forming partnerships with a large number of organizations.

Those groups include Mesa County, Grand Junction, Palisade, Fruita, Grand Junction Audubon, Colorado Riverfront Commission, Water Center at Colorado Mesa University, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Colorado Watershed Assembly, Mesa Land Trust, Clifton Sanitation District, Western Colorado Conservation Corps, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and private landowners.

The collaborative has helped secure grant funding for restoration projects on the Colorado River bank at Riverbend Park in Palisade, and for removing tamarisk along the Riverside Parkway and on the Jarvis property.

“It’s been a really positive collaboration,” DRC restoration coordinator Shannon Hatch said. “We’re gaining traction; we’re making a dent.”

The $10 tickets to the “Cottonwoods and Cold Ones” event includes the tour, appetizers, live music and drawings for numerous prizes including a Chelsea Nursery gift card for $150, a bottle of wine from Talon Wine Brands, a gift card from Laughing Dog Coffeehouse.

Cottonwood Club members (join for a $250 donation) get in free, plus receive two drink tickets.

To RSVP or for more information, visit http://www.TamariskCoalition.org or call 970-256-7400.

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