The Invasive Tamarisk By Melinda Johnson

Did you know that the Tamarisk tree is an invasive species? Tamarisk trees are seen all over Western Colorado. As a child, I remember there was an entire shopping village and street named after the tamarisk in the small town where I grew up. There are eight different species of Tamarisk in the U.S. [1] Tamarisk originally came from central Asian and the Mediterranean area [3]. These trees came to the U.S. in the 1800’s to be used as decoration and to control wind and water erosion [1].

Why are they invasive?

Tamarisk can outperform native plants [1]. They can survive in poor soil conditions, drought, and spread out over long distances in a short amount of time due to their widespread roots [1]. Tamarisk found in our region can grow up to 30 feet tall and they are spreading along rivers and streams throughout the western U.S. [3] Tamarisk can use up to 20 gallons of water per day through their creeping roots [1]

Impacts of Tamarisk- Tamarisk can create a wildfire hazard, outperform and displace native plants, create a poor habitat for fish and other wildlife, and block access to waterways for recreation and agriculture [2].

Addressing the Tamarisk Invasion through Restoration-

Remove the tamarisk and replace them with native plant species- The Tamarisk Coalition based out of Grand Junction, CO works with volunteers to remove tamarisk and other invasive plant species from the area surrounding waterways [2]. The coalition replaces tamarisk with native plant species that restore our native ecosystem [2].

Why is restoration important?

It is important to preserve our natural areas for humans, plant life, and wildlife. We all need access to our waterways and should have access without the invasion of non-native plant species. As a community, we can work together to restore the areas along waterways and prevent wildfire hazards, poor habitats, and displacement of native plants.

Ways to Get Involved-

You can volunteer and support the restoration of our waterways by becoming a member of the Tamarisk Coalition.

 

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http://tamariskcoalition.org/get-involved/donatebecome-member

 

References

[1] Tamarisk Biocontrol. (n.d.). Retrieved March 02, 2017, from https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/agconservation/tamarisk-biocontrol

 

[2] C. (2016, November 29). Why Restore? Retrieved March 02, 2017, from http://tamariskcoalition.org/why-restore

 

[3] USDA-Agricultural Research Service Invasive Species Success Stories. (n.d.). Retrieved March 2, 2017, from https://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/docs/plants/issssaltcedar.pdf

 

 

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