Regional tamarisk control planned
Post Independent Staff
The Garfield County Commissioners Monday put their weight behind a push to treat invasive tamarisk and Russian olive trees on the West Slope.
The nonprofit Tamarisk Coalition, based in Grand Junction, intends to apply to the state Department of Local Affairs for a $95,000 grant to plan to control tamarisk along waterways and restore riparian habitat.
It appealed to the commissioners Monday to support its grant application and to administer the money if it’s awarded.
Tamarisk and Russian olive trees were introduced to the United States for use as an ornamental vegetation and windbreaks. They have taken over millions of acres in the West, pushing out native riverine vegetation. Both use significantly more water than native species, and Tamarisk has depleted water tables, lowered river levels and clogged river banks with its uncontrolled growth.
In supporting the grant application, the county also agreed to administer the money and committed $10,000 in matching funds. Six Western Slope counties, Garfield, Dolores, Delta, Mesa, Montrose and Montezuma, will participate in the plan .
The plan will involve three steps, “identification, eradication and rehabilitation of riparian habitat,” said Chris Treese, external affairs manager for the Colorado River Water Conservation District, which also contributed matching funds.
Although the county commissioners unanimously agreed to support the grant application and commit the matching funds, Commissioner Larry McCown questioned the plan.
“This issue has been looked at, planned and plotted for years,” he said. “I question if we need another plan. It’s time to go beyond planning and get rid of some of this stuff.”
John Heideman, financial director for the Tamarisk Coalition, said the plan will coordinate activities in all the involved counties and be able to tap various sources of funding.
“We’re talking about the entire Colorado River watershed,” he said. “Some areas are ahead of others and we all need to be on the same page.”
Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510
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